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Meet Nikki Draper of Dulce Vida Salon in Poway

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Draper

Nikki, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Hairdressing runs in my family- my grandma, my mom, and my oldest sister were all hairdressers. At first, I ran from my roots: I wanted to find my own identity, so I moved from NorCal to SoCal and attended SDSU where I graduated as a Communication major. After various jobs that first year, I realized that I didn’t enjoy office or sales jobs. I had a “Come to Jesus” moment after the 9/11 attack back in 2001 and I realized that salon life makes me happy! I decided to return to my roots and embrace hairdressing that was deep seeded in me. While I was still used to being a broke college student, I quickly returned back to school to get my cosmetology license from Cal Hair Design Academy.

My job ROCKS!! I love the fact that I get to make people feel good about themselves on a daily basis. Whether it’s through conversation, covering those pesky greys or through a total transformation. I get the opportunity to have a positive influence on people’s lives.

I opened up Dulce Vida Salon in Poway on March 22nd, 2015. I had worked in Hillcrest, Bankers Hill and North Park for about 13yrs, and I had been commuting from Scripps Ranch and Poway for six of them. When my son started Kindergarten, I decided it was time to work closer to home. I couldn’t find a salon that had the same urban vibe that my clients and myself where accustomed to. So, I had no choice but to open my own! Hence the birth of Dulce Vida or DV Salon.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Of course there were some struggles. Opening up a business and running it is ALWAYS more work than one thinks it will be. I’m one to confidently and naively jump in, and then cry later haha. Thankfully I have an amazingly supportive husband and I have a tenacious spirit.

Phase 1: the build out. I had to push back the opening date twice. The first one was due to challenges with staining the concrete the color I wanted. Second, was during the installation of a new AC unit. Unfortunately, the whole unit, including the newly hung ducting, fell from the ceiling while my epoxy floors were still curing. Ut-ooooh.

After opening, I slowly started building my team. I thought that Poway hairdressers would be knocking down my door to work here since there wasn’t another salon like it in the area. Again, my naiveness was in full swing. It took longer than I thought to find stylists since my network was in San Diego. However, I was willing to be patient to find the right fit. Our salon culture is like a close knit family, so it’s crucial to find people that will have each other’s back and support each other.

Please tell us about Dulce Vida Salon.
Dulce Vida Salon is a boutique hair salon. We are by appointment only, but occasionally, we do except walk-ins. We specialize in everything hair: cuts, color, hair extensions, smoothing treatments, blow-outs and up-dos. We LOVE balayage, short sassy hair, long beautiful hair, redheads, blondes, brunettes, you name it ha! I recently had the opportunity to take a couple of women from brunette and transition them back to their natural grey.

We take pride in education and staying current with hair trends. We are an exclusive Bumble and Bumble salon, which in return helps provide us with consistent education. We also do our best to meet our clients’ needs. If they are not happy, then we are not happy. And we will do everything in our power to make it right. Granted, we are hairstylists, not magicians. Consultations are a must when doing a color correction.

We believe that hair is your biggest accessory, so wear it well!

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Hmm, would I do anything different? Maybe be a little more organized and not sweat the small stuff.


  • women’s haircuts start at $55
  • men’s haircuts start at $35
  • partial highlights start at $95
  • balayage is on consultation

Contact Info:

  • Address: 12231 Poway Rd.
    Poway, CA 92064
  • Website:
  • Phone: 858-842-3841
  • Email:

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Linda DeKoning

    November 14, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    Nikki is a wonderful hairdresser and a very sweet woman.I would recommend her to anyone looking for a new change of hairstyle or color.

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