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Conversations with the Inspiring Monika Valadez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monika Valadez.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Monika. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
In 2008, I left San Diego to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. It wasn’t necessarily a dream but a childhood goal. I always wanted to be a veterinarian but mostly because I loved science and animals and it made sense to combine the two. My first day of class at Cal Poly, I knew I no longer wanted to go to vet school. However, I loved what I was doing and learning. It was a great learning experience. I learned and grew those four years and wouldn’t be who I am today without my undergraduate education and experience. I graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s of science in animal science and moved back home after deciding I did not want to attend graduate school. I found myself working at UCSD at the school of medicine as a lab technician never really loving what I did. One day, I woke up and asked myself do you really want to do this every day for the rest of my life. I threw around ideas of going to beauty school or law school. One day, took a tour at Paul Mitchell the School San Diego and fell instantly in love, I thought I was coming in for a tour but ended up enrolling part time that same day. About six months into school, my personal hair stylist reached out to me and told me she wanted me to work for her. Soon after, I began working at her new location of her salon, Rinse Salon in 30th street and Howard. I worked part time front desk at rinse, worked full time at UCSD and part time attended school at Paul Mitchell for the next year. It was hard but I did it. I became licensed in the end of April and began assisting at rinse in June. I have since then been working and learning under Ana Montes de Oca’s mentorship and am just hoping to be as talented and as great of a business woman as her one day. I’ve never been happier nor wanted anything more.

Has it been a smooth road?
I suffer from endometriosis so every day I fight my body to do what I want to do. Some days are more painful than others. Some days are easy, some days are hard. I feel like my mind and body are constantly at war. I had laparoscopic surgery in 2016 before I started school at Paul Mitchell the school San Diego and although I experienced a great reduction in pain, the same is not always true for other women that undergo the procedure. About a year and a half later my symptoms returned and I have resumed pain and symptom management. But honestly, the thing that makes it all worth it is pursuing something I love. I love doing hair and want to do hair and work in the beauty industry so badly that I will do whatever I have to to be successful. Obviously, I never want to push my body to places it physically cannot but it becomes a non-factor when I’m so happy. I’m not naive enough to think that anyone suffering from a chronic illness can just find a passion and it will just make all of their pain and suffering go away, but I do think it helps in making things easier. There’s no reason these things should slow you down from living a fulfilled life.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into @styledbymonika story. Tell us more about the business.
I am a hairstylist. More specifically an assistant stylist at Rinse Salon. I work under Ana Montes de Oca @ana.rinsesalon and learn from several other talented people at @rinsesalon. Everyone is so talented and has different specialties and snacks for all things hair related. I feel like such a lucky sponge being able to learn and absorb everything that I can from these people. I am so grateful for every single day that I am there. I feel like I am so young in the industry to have found a specific specialty yet but as of now, I am really into blonding. When I was younger I used to bleach my hair at home and apply bright colors that I got at the local beauty supply so perhaps I’ll go back to my roots and specialize in vivids and mermaid hair. Only time will tell.

What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
The beauty industry is heavily female dominated which is very different from the industry I came from (research) which was male-dominated. So, I feel like that is already an advantage to female leadership. I think that’s definitely an alluring factor. I love being around all these boss babes every day. I feel that in the beauty industry women are a lot more supportive and uplifting to each other as opposed to being competitive or degrading which is another reason to love it. I love networking and connecting with all these inspiring female leaders in the industry.

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