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Q&A with Gene Juarez, Founder of Gene Juarez Salons

By Marguerite Cleveland

Photo By Samantha Elise Tillman

If you wanted to write a Great American Success Story, it would be Gene Juarez. He is the youngest of six children to Mexican farm laborers. In his early days, his parents followed the crops before settling down in Wapato, Washington, a small town in Eastern Washington whose main industry is agriculture. “My dad’s fondest wish was that I would have an indoor job when I grew up,” says Juarez. “I think he meant a warehouse job.” He fulfilled his father’s dream, but it was not to be in agriculture. Juarez had two things going for him: He was great with people and excelled at art and design classes in high school. He wanted a job where he could combine both skills, and hair was a perfect profession for him. A scholarship helped launch his dream. He eventually owned his own mom-and-pop salon that turned into a beauty empire in Seattle and Tacoma. When he sold his company in 2006, there were eight Gene Juarez Salons and Spas with revenues around $75 million. Juarez is still actively involved with the company as a consultant. For more than 49 years, Gene Juarez Salons & Spas have provided beauty and wellness services to the local community, a legacy his father is sure to be proud of.

Q. Gene Juarez Salons & Spas has a long history of supporting the local community. Why is this important?

A. I am very proud of being a Hispanic hairdresser, and the key to my success is a great staff who is like family and all the people I’ve worked with. I am incredibly grateful to all the support that helped me take a mom-and-pop salon and turn it into a successful business model. Giving back to the community and sharing our success is important. Currently each Gene Juarez Salon provides support to a local charity by providing volunteers, raising money and awareness for that nonprofit. Recent partnerships include The Ruby Room, Olive Crest, HOPEcrew Outreach, YouthCare, Seattle Humane, Union Gospel Mission, Night to Shine, Treehouse, Bridge of Promise, Mary’s Place, Wishing Well, St. Baldrick’s and Bloodworks Northwest. The home office also provides over 200 community contributions a year.

Q. Can you share with our readers about your commitment to the environment?

A. Commitment to the environment has always been one of our company’s core values. Our world is one we can destroy quickly, or we can work to save our environment. Gene Juarez Salons are part of the Green Circle Salon movement. We are a Certified Sustainable Salon and work to protect the planet by collecting our beauty waste, which includes hair clippings, used foils, color tubes, excess hair color and much more. This waste is shipped to Green Circle Salons, who works with their partners to turn it into new products or clean energy. Since the start of this program we have reduced our service waste by 95 percent.

Q. Can you share how your hair salons help improve the self-esteem of your clientele?

A. I honestly believe in this time of COVID-19 that we are an essential service based on the response when we reopened. We were slammed once the salons were able to reopen, and we had lots of clients asking if we could do services at home. We help people nonverbally project who they are on the inside. A stylist actually has a license to touch. Our training is extensive and includes learning about infectious diseases.

Q. Gene Juarez Salons & Spas are the official salon and spa sponsor of the Seattle Seahawks Dancers. Are there any special challenges, especially with Seattle's notorious weather, getting the dancers game-day ready?

A. The dancers come to our salons to get game-day ready. The key is choosing a type of makeup that doesn’t run. Each woman has a different hair texture. You must respect the texture of the hair to pick the right style and product for each person. Gene Juarez Salons is proud to be the official beauty and wellness sponsor of the Seattle Seahawks Dancers. Our stylists make sure their hair, nails and skin always look great for game day.

Q. Can you share with our readers your philosophy on hairstyle?

A. I look at hair as an accessory to fashion. I studied fashion, and our partnership with Nordstrom over the years helped me keep up with the trends. Just like hems go up and down and fashion changes, so does hair. It was important to me to be able to forecast the direction of fashion and how our hairstyles will complement those styles as an accessory. I was able to achieve this by traveling to fashion centers such as New York City and attend the runway shows during Fashion Week. I also had access to trade publications and the Conde Nast forecast, which were both helpful.

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