We had the privilege of sitting down with entrepreneur and master hair stylist, Sergio Delgado, at his salon. We chatted about his family’s flight from civil-war-ridden Nicaragua to the US, his path to styling, and his decision to open his own business in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Fishtown in Philadelphia. Check out the interview below!
Alright. Start from the beginning, Sergio. How did you kick this off?
In my 20's, I was kind of a lost soul. I was always trying to figure out where my passion was going to be poured into. My mom suggested I try a trade using my hands and that is when hairstyling came up. To be honest with you, I kind of dismissed it at first. But then I started doing my homework, poking around, and it just clicked. It was creative. It was interactive. It was always changing. I felt like it was inside me. So I signed up for school and didn’t look back!
I get emotional thinking about it. It was really life changing for me. I was pretty troubled at that time, but now I feel like a different person because of this industry. After a few years, I was able to muster up the courage to start my own company and open my salon.
How did your mom feel about your decision to not only take her advice, but to actually take the risk and start your own business?
Well... I’ll give you a little background of my family. My whole family is from Nicaragua; we migrated to the United States. Some of my aunts and uncles were able to come, and some weren’t. There was a lot of political turmoil and a civil war in Nicaragua. My aunt was a business owner. She had her own salon in Nicaragua, in the town of Masaya. It was out of my grandmom’s house in a storefront.
Oh I see. So being a self-starter is really in your bones?
Totally. I actually built the color bar myself [taps color bar]. I always brag about it. I spent so much time on it. I like to call myself an amateur carpenter. I am glad I get to show it off.
Seems like that is kind of the vibe down in Fishtown?
It’s a real community being built here. The people moving into the community are super supportive. One thing I really dig is there are a lot of professionals around my age. A lot of new families. Just married with young kids. A lot of my clients have babies. They are coming [to Fishtown] and buying their first home. It is a great place to grow. It all really circles around the arts corridor which is artists studios, photography studios, welders - people into the arts and into working with their hands. Super creative. Super about being local. Derived from local. We have a restaurant that sources everything locally.
And I just love Philly. I love culture in Philly. I love the history. I love the people here. I feel accepted. Fishtown is a great neighborhood with so many things changing. There was a need for the salon in this area and I’ve never looked back. It has been a great journey so far and I can’t wait for the next 10 years.
Do you feel any “old” Philly vs “new” Philly tensions?
Some people call Fishtown ”hipster central”. But people coming to this area are very conscious and this consciousness is really spreading and making this neighborhood an awesome place to live and work.
What do you mean, “conscious”?
Conscious of everything. The environment, farming practices, what we eat, where we source food. Everything is conscious. This is new to the east coast. On the west coast being conscious has been a movement for a while. Until recently, [the East Coast] has been very like, “if we can find it cheaper, we are going to buy it cheaper.” But now it is like “ehh, we can pay a little extra for something better.” People organize neighborhood clean ups. Meetings for the communities. When I mention to clients I chose green energy, people love it. They absolutely love it. It is just a conscious decision. An adult decision. It is about the future of everything. A lot of people are talking about how much they enjoy what is going on around them.
[Pup nuzzles into my leg and we have to take a break from the interview.]
She’s your only business partner?
The only one. When I adopted her, I wanted a dog I could take anywhere with me. She was abandoned and abused, and the foster parents wanted her to go to a home where she would get a lot of attention. I promised she would go with me everywhere. She is my ride dog.
I am working on a huge collage of great pictures of her. We want a wall for her because she is such a huge part of our space. Everyone asks, “Where is Lucy?” She’s our watchdog.
To find out more about Salon Masaya, check out their website.
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You can visit Sergio and Lucy in person at:
2226 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
Stop by or call for an appointment: