Hasblady Guzman’s son and clients keep Bokaos afloat
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Hasblady Guzman shares that her Aveda-affiliated salon, Bokaos, has a loyal client base.
That’s an understatement.
Throughout the pandemic, salon clients maintained Guzman’s morale — and business — by paying for services in advance, purchasing products, and texting supportive messages to her.
“They kept texting me and sending pictures of their hair undone,” Guzman says. “They would write, ‘I am waiting until you do my hair.’ They’d offer a high premium to go into their homes to do their hair. They wouldn’t accept that I would come for less. We never lost touch. There was this big fervor to help me out. I’m so grateful.”
Now, Guzman is working to rebuild the 4,000-square-foot Bokaos Aveda Salon’s business and clientele.
Styling is in her 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.
She 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 chose to join her family business. She’s never looked back.
In 1982, Guzman and her family escaped the dangers of Pablo Escobar’s reign and 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,” Guzman says 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 is hiring and training staff these days, and she’s ready for any service new or established clients may desire. Pre-pandemic, she would have ordered what she needed
“I’m purchasing everything for any service that I offer,” Guzman says. “I purchase hair extensions, every hair color on the planet. I’ve added brands. Whatever I’m promoting, I make sure I’m ready to deliver. Someone wants extensions? I have hair on hand. I didn’t before. I would order things.”
If Guzman did not have products on hand, she fears clients would spend their money elsewhere because women are selfless.
“They will spend money on their kids, their husband or their house,” she explains. “Women put themselves last. I have to be ready to deliver. They feel guilty spending money on themselves.”
A stylist for 31 years, Guzman sees her clients’ children now.
“Many of them have daughters who want highlights, balayage and extensions,” she says. “I think I’m part of their family.
“I met them when they were single — no marriage, no kids, nothing. Now, the kids are taller than me, and I’m doing color and cuts.”
Extensions are her forte because they make women look younger and “so different.” Guzman does extensions three ways — 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 blond and 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. She has been featured on KTLA 5 with Dayna Devon, and Guzman does the hair of several news anchors. Guzman is proud to announce that she will be doing the hair of all seven Rose Queens for 2021 and 2022.
Her 22-year-old son, Kostas, helped her make it through the pandemic. He took on several jobs to lend a hand financially.
“He’s been taking college courses online,” she says. “He took a quarter off, and he’s been working at the salon. Whatever help I need, he’s there. He has helped me with legal affairs and is part of what makes the salon happen. My other boy, Lucca, just went off to college. I also cannot hold back from mentioning my staff. I am very thankful for them as well. I’m very fortunate, I have to say.”
Bokaos Aveda Salon
52 Hugus Alley, Pasadena