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Conversations with the Inspiring Karen Varela

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Varela.

Karen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I came to U.S.A when I was 17 years old always knowing that my goal one day was to be a Hair Dresser.
Having two children, it was hard to work and go to school full time but I did it.

When I finished and got my license, one of my teachers from school, Courtney Resch, who owns a beautiful Salon in La Jolla trusted me and hired me as her assistant. I did that for two years and learned a lot working by her side not only about hair but also in my personal life! I soon started taking clients as well as doing weddings on the side, I worked at a blow-dry bar as a stylist and as a Makeup Artist for about a year as a second job while I built up my clientele at the salon. At that time, I was also dating my now husband Mike Varela, who was living in Los Angeles and I was living here in San Diego. For about three years, we were long distance but we always knew that the dream of having our own Salon and Advanced Academy space together could come true since we both did hair. He’s an incredible renowned global independent educator who has dedicated himself now to full-time education since 2009. Our company The Kingly Hair Group started as solely and education business is 2013 and the first Salon opened in North Park San Diego in 2017…

Has it been a smooth road?
I don’t think any journey without struggle ends in a gratifying place. It’s the challenges you overcome that get you to where you not only want to be but should be. For myself, when I started cosmetology school, I spoke very little English and would take my translation dictionary with me to school every day just so I could understand what they were saying. Also, the decision to leave a salon that helped me develop myself as a stylist, in the beginning, to open our own salon was not only a huge leap of faith but a personal struggle because I had grown so close to everyone at the first salon that it was a hard decision. But the reality is we have to be willing to take risks and do whatever we need to to see those dreams grow and blossom into reality. Fear of struggle or challenge will always be the killer of dreams and ambitions if you let it… dream big!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Kingly Hair Group story. Tell us more about the business.
I love doing it all! Cutting hair, doing color, styling, and make-up… I always have, which is a far cry from my husband who solely has specialized in precision cutting his whole career starting from his time at Vidal Sassoon. But I think that is why we work so well together. As a brand, we wholeheartedly believe in a strong technical approach to hair. We respect it as a craft and not just something that gets pulled off every time. We first focus on the cut, because at the end of the day, we truly believe cutting hair and having the ability to create that perfect sustainable form in hair is the most important thing we do as stylists.

Everything after that is just accentuation of that form. And that dictates our color work. How can we add that depth and dimension to that perfect form… it is the ethos from the very beginning originating from our academy work…

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
To be honest with you, I don’t read to deep into the idea of gender related opportunities. I truly believe that if you have a goal and you are willing to work hard for it, it will be your determination, ambition, talent and work ethic that will turn an eye to you and grab attention. We are the creators of our own opportunities and ultimately the ones who will determine where we end up….

Contact Info:

  • Address: The Kingly Hair Group
    3077 North Park Way #105
    San Diego, CA 92104
  • Website:
  • Phone: (619) 677-9766
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @TheKingly_HairGroup

Image Credit:

Mike Varela, Nick Berardi

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