The business of beauty is in Hasblady Guzman’s DNA. As a child in Colombia, she grew up watching her mother make women feel beautiful and confident in her salon.
“Seeing my mother help women feel better than when they came in was awe-inspiring. At a young age I saw how powerful it was to provide a great service—making someone feel uplifted,” Guzman says.
And quickly learned responsibility in her formative years.
“At 12, I was taking deposits on my bicycle and making change for her,” Guzman says. “She would give me hundreds of pesos and I would get her change. Nobody ever bothered me or questioned it.”
Guzman was offered a full-ride scholarship to UC Santa Barbara but gave in to her mother and joined the family business. She never looked back.
Now she’s at the helm of her successful 4,000-square-foot salon, Pasadena’s Bokaos Aveda Salon, where the staff goes above and beyond to make sure their clients stay healthy.
“I want my clients to feel really comfortable at Bokaos,” Guzman says. “My stylists want to give guests the best experience and provide the safest environment. We are taking every precaution to do so. We’re spaced 6 feet apart. We’re disinfecting. No one with a fever is allowed to enter the building. I’m protecting my business. I’ve given a lot of my life to it—29 years of myself to it.”
Coming to America
In 1982, Guzman and her family had to escape the dangers of Pablo Escobar’s reign, so they fled their native Colombia to find a better life in the United States. She learned English by watching American television, and at the age of 21 she opened her first hair salon, Renaissance Hair Studio in Glendale.
“Being in the business this long, it’s much more normal,” says Guzman, about being a female business owner.
“At the beginning, when I was 21, people would say, ‘Where’s the owner? Where is he?’ It’s been nice to show that a woman and an immigrant can make it if you stay focused. I don’t take no for an answer.”
In 2002, she expanded by opening a second salon, Bokaos Aveda Pasadena, and eventually a third location followed in Glendale in 2008. In 2009, she moved all three businesses to one beautiful loft location with hardwood floors and a soaring chandelier in the heart of Old Town Pasadena.
At the salon she is joined by her brother, Alfred Guzman. Her mother still owns her own salon.
“She’s been incredibly supportive and loving,” Guzman says. “She won’t stop working at 72. She has a shop in Glendale and shows up every day.”
Guzman has worked with many celebrity clients for print and TV projects, but it’s a special love for the styling, extensions and updos that feed her creative soul.
“I love doing extensions and wedding parties,” she says. “It’s so much fun. It’s so creative, and everyone is incredibly excited and loving. It’s like you’re part of an intimate moment of happiness. You see your work and it’s amazing how it all comes together.”
With bridal parties of 10 or more, they drink champagne and have a little celebration. Guzman has been invited to style brides in England, New York and Mexico.
“I’m not limited to Pasadena,” she says.
Guzman does three methods of extensions—keratin, I-tip and tape.
“When you take a woman who feels she doesn’t look as soft or young as she used to and put hair on her, it takes 10 years off. When she has shiny hair and it’s thick, it’s always a sign of youth. It really helps a woman come to life when she has hair like that.”
She is also a blond specialist and knows how to take someone safely to blonde with the right tones.
“We use Aveda color. It is 98% natural and all the packaging is 100% recyclable, which is incredible,” Guzman says. “They spend a lot of money in the way they package and are very honest as a brand. Right now, we have Nutriplenish, a moisturizing line that Aveda just came out with. It helps dry, stressed hair and makes it soft. It’s a great line for hair in California.”
What it all comes down to is her customers’ happiness.
“You have to have a lot of heart to be a small-business owner,” she says. “In my business, it’s important to remember the value of great relationships with your guests and staff.”
Guzman is a dedicated member of the Pasadena community, supporting Hillsides. She fundraises for their gala every year with cut-athons, service donations and clothing donations for the kids.
One Colorado Square
52 Hugus Alley, Pasadena
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday