Arlene Rivera — Owner and founder of “Maxine’s Shears and Wigs, Salon and Barbershop recounts her curly hair challenges and controversial philosophy on styling and maintaining curls and wavy hair.
Yet today, this self-proclaimed “hair doctor” is changing lives one curly head at a time.
If you missed part-1 or part-2 of “The Curls-Preneur” you can read them now.
As a young girl little Arlene Rivera sat quietly in her mother’s salon. She observed how her mom applied the trade of creating beautiful hair styles on her client’s natural hair. And then creating an identical look on a wig for the client.
By 6-years-old Rivera knew that she wanted to be a hairstylist. Rivera silently watched her mother work until she could not resist the urge to say, “It’s bigger on this side.” “You missed a piece of hair on that side, Mommy.” Little Arlene Rivera was already perfecting her gift as a “hair doctor.”
The shame of curls
I want to empower curly hair people. Because still in the year 2019, I get Caucasian girls with highly curly hair, devastated because they don’t know what to do with their hair. They’re the only ones with curly hair. People make fun of them. I have little girls that go to kindergarten. Girls (that) could be mixed (ethnicity). Girls that are black. And they are still making like curly hair is something weird.Arlene Rivera — Owner and founder of “Maxine’s Shears and Wigs, Salon and Barbershop.
Her husband — Robert Gomez, Barber and Locktician at Maxine’s said —
Do you know how many adults have cried in her chair because this is the first time that (a stylist) did not mess up their hair?Robert Gomez — Barber and Locktician at “Maxine’s Shears and Wigs, Salon and Barbershop.
The curl-preneur. Influenced by Vidal Sassoon
Rivera credits early experiences in the hairstyling industry for her need to take care of people. She vividly recounts a time when she met the famed British American hairstylist. And owner of an empire built on hair products of the same name — Vidal Sassoon. Rivera proudly recalls the day she met Vidal Sassoon — and discovered his famed pivot-point hair cutting technique.
My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous.Vidal Sassoon
She was eight-years-old when Rivera and her sister were filling in as live models for their mother at a hair workshop. At the Vidal Sassoon hairstyling workshop, Sassoon inspected each stylist’s work. As a young hairstyle model, Rivera briefly talked with the hair icon — Vidal Sassoon.
At 26-years-old when she might have been expected to stay at home with her infant daughter Rivera chose a different path. She pursued her passion to become a professional hairstylist. After attending cosmetology school, during the day. And at night to complete the 18-month curriculum in 12-months. Rivera then opened a salon. On the Caribbean island — the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Spanish for “Rich Port.” Rivera and her sister opened a full-service spa and salon after receiving help from their mother.
The Matrix artistic team
It did not take long before Rivera discovered her stride as a Matrix Artistic Team member. She was producing hair shows and talking to 300 hair artists at a hotel about how to cut hair. As a haircut instructor and a diligent hairstylist in her salon. These were the years that Rivera began to develop her personal philosophy as a professional hairstylist.
But before telling you what makes Rivera so successful at maintaining the health, style, and growth of natural curls and natural waves, it is important to know how she became a “hair doctor”.
Red mountain dreams in Colorado
The Rivera sisters operated a successful spa and salon for 15-years in Puerto Rico until Rivera’s then 12-year-old daughter — Maxine Cofino had a dream.
In her dream she saw red mountains. Rivera encouraged her daughter to seek out the place with the red mountains. After doing some Internet research from her home in Puerto Rico on the new computer her mother had just purchased, the young Cofino found Colorado Springs, Colorado.
As a birthday gift for Maxine Cofino’s Quinceañera — Spanish feminine form of the 15-year-old birthday, Rivera took her daughter on a two-week trip to the red mountains of Colorado. The mountains from her dream.
At the end of the trip young Cofino did not want to leave. She wanted to move to Colorado. To appease her daughter Rivera told her that God would make it snow the next day during their snowmobiling trip in the mountains. Rivera felt relieved by the beautiful blue sky and sunny day. Until it began to snow.
Paths to becoming a curl entrepreneur
When the snow shower continued Rivera decided to take yet another path.
One that people would ask if it was the right decision. But undeterred, Rivera put her house up for sale in Puerto Rico and sold it within one week. Leaving behind a successful career and business. Rivera and her daughter Maxine Cofino moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado USA.
She worked at the U.S. Air Force Academy barbershop at first. Then, when her daughter moved to Fort Collins, Colorado for college Rivera fell in love with the city and moved to Fort Collins to teach. As a Master Colorist Rivera had wealth of knowledge to impart to her students.
An inclusive salon experience
The transition from a successful hairstylist and business owner in Puerto Rico to an environment with little diversity. And at times outwardly hostile did not dishearten Rivera. She advocated for the best techniques and products for all of the salon and barbershop clients — regardless of ethnicity. Yet Rivera was met with continued resistance to inclusion, quality products, and services for all hair-types.
This continued frustration in the work environment caused Rivera to have to make yet another difficult decision. As always, she asked herself, “Is it about me? Or is it about her? It has always been about my daughter.”
And once again, she chose the path that everyone else thought was a poor decision. Yet, for the second time, Rivera started her own business in the Western United States. And like her mother before her Rivera named her salon after her daughter, Maxine.
Initially Rivera rented a room with other hairstylists. They resented that she created a unique space for her clients who wore a head-scarf called a hijab. These Muslim women needed a salon experience where they could remove their hair covering in a way that respected their religious practice. Rivera ‘s desire to be inclusive and to serve all of the population where she worked, and not just 80-percent of it, caused a lot of tension within the workplace.
After moving the salon several times Rivera and her husband are now building a salon where she is in complete control of the environment and the client experience. One that is outside of the control of landlords and other tenants.
More than 65 percent have curly hair
An estimated 65 percent of women have curly or wavy hair.Lorraine Massey — author of “Curly Girl the Handbook.”
There are so many factors to keeping curly and wavy hair healthy, long, and beautiful.
Curl-preneur Arlene Rivera — owner and founder of “Maxine’s Shears …” simplifies how best to care for your curly and wavy hair, regardless of ethnicity.
Rivera takes a controversial approach to curly and wavy hair care.
A Controversial approach to cutting curls
“Coming from Caribbean moisture to the dryness of the altitude of the mountains changed my philosophy. Because my hair got extremely dry. And I couldn’t understand what was happening. There is another thing that is very peculiar about the curls that I was able to get in Puerto Rico that I couldn’t get here. That is a good haircut. There is no education about how to cut the curls. You come over here and everybody textures. And they use thinning shears to cut curly hair which creates volume.”
Rivera goes on to say this about cutting curly hair.
The more you empty your ends the more frizziness and inability your curl has to be full, from the end to your scalp.Arlene Rivera — Owner and founder of “Maxine’s Shears and Wigs, Salon and Barbershop.
If you love movement in your curls, Rivera warns —
“You won’t be able to have that if your ends are thinned, or texturized, or point-cut. All these techniques that are mainly designed for straight hair. You can have anything that you see in a magazine, but my job as a hairdresser is to understand that I have to accomplish that (hairstyle) by doing blunt cuts.”
“My expertise comes from the basic knowledge of how to run a consultation.”
First, she starts by looking at the client in the mirror through a “cool medium.”
Then, she turns the chair around and looks at her client directly to make the consultation personal.
“When choosing what service is good for the person. I analyze (and) I let you know what type of hair you have. Not what type of curl.
From what type of hair you have and what type of chemicals you have if you have any.
Why hair type not curl type matters more
Then we decide what level of hydration and how thick or thin that hydration is.
The spectrum of ingredients in a product range from a lot of chemicals to organic.
There is a reality to the amount of chemicals that are fillers and the quality of what is in a bottle. (And) they could damage your hair. So, fillers could be from water, and yes we need water. But after understanding how a good product works I don’t want to open a shampoo bottle and the whole product is so liquified.”
I want a product that is nutrient dense and has some consistency — Rivera explains.
The truth about Loma® Hair Care products
“And I don’t sell (or push) product(s). … My focus is looking for quality products … that I don’t have to wait three weeks” to see the results. “I buy one brand (of product) and I use it on all of my clients. And not all of my clients have curly hair.”
Some of them have straight hair.
“The product provides me with different levels of moisture.
The moisture content or nutrients is what determines the hair type Rivera will apply it to.”
“I gravitated to something organic. Because even though the best in the industry that wasn’t organic, it was not giving me what my curls needed. When I was in Puerto Rico for 15-years I used to gravitate to products from (the) Dominican Republic that were extremely natural. And one of the products that was missing is aloe vera-based.” In the USA.
So, I looked for organic and aloe vera-based products and I found “Loma® Hair Care.”
“The amount of nutrients they put in their product was perfect for my curls. Every single client.
I only have one brand. The brand provides me with different levels of moisture.”
The controversial philosophy of one product line for all hair types
Rivera has clients with every type of hair — straight, curly, or wavy. When a client leaves Rivera’s salon and washes their own hair with the products they have at home and cannot achieve the same results they come back to buy the products that Rivera used in the salon — Loma® Hair Care.
She talked about clients who fly in from Hawaii or drive an hour from Denver, Colorado, USA because she is the only person they will allow to style their hair. The mistake that many consumers make is that they look for products for their ethnicity. And not based on the type of hair they have, their lifestyle, the amount of time they have to invest in haircare and styling at home, and how they like to wear their hair most often — curly or straight.
She also wants her clients to have products that will work when they travel to different climates. Because the products have the right balance of nutrients.
The lighter weight products are better than the heavy products that will weight your hair down. She does make an exception to this philosophy when she has a wiry curl.
Managing wiry curls
Wiry curls do not have an S-bond. In an inch of hair if you have only one S-shape — the hair is wavy.
If you have a two-S bond pattern the hair is curly.
If you have a three-S bond then you have coils.
However, wiry hair does not have an S-bond it has a zig-zag.
Best protective style for all curly hair types
A lot of people like to do protective styles like braids. If you want to promote having the best curly hair that you can have she recommends the two-strand twist as a protective hairstyle for a night-time regimen.
Because hair will take the shape that you put it in.
If you want your hair to bounce back after it has been straightened you should use a two-strand twist after straightening.
To reprogram your curls wet your hair, comb through the conditioner, and after two or three times or nights of this routine you can:
- Shampoo the hair
- Highly condition it
- Do a two-strand twist
To remove the friziness and shedding that curly hair experiences. After a few days of nighttime twists with moisture — water and conditioner that you leave in to dry overnight. Now your curls will bounce back from having been straightened. “Whether you’re black, Irish, or Jewish. It doesn ‘t matter what type of curl you have. Because this is a curl thing. Not an ethnic-thing. I want to stop this myth that only certain people can do certain things.”
How protein can damage curly hair
“The next import point to remember is about protein. Hair is protein. Almost every product for the “black” population is based on protein.
Protein is not bad unless you saturate your hair with it. The lighter you go on building up in your hair, the better it is. So, if I’m going to pick a product and the first ingredient is protein I will say no. Because if I’m going to use the same shampoo (or conditioner) again, and again, and again for a period of two months I’m going to create a buildup. Clients come to me and say — ‘My hair doesn’t grow. My hair breaks.’
I ask, ‘Do you use protein-based products, leave-in conditioners, shines, keratin?’ I tell them to stop.”
Don’t add daily keratin products to keratin hair
The hair is Keratin. That’s what the hair is made of. When you constantly promote keratin the hair becomes so strong that it becomes brittle. If you live in the humidity the affects take longer to show. However, in a dry climate you see the negative results sooner. Said Rivera.
“The philosophy of how many products that you need is the less amount of products the better. Shampoos are the main reason why our hair is dry. So you will take all that is good that is naturally happening. (And it) is (creating) dehydration by chemicals. And dehydration equals no hair.”
When asked, Rivera says she recommends avoiding products with:
- Paba — paraben
- Sodium chloride
“I love vegan-friendly”
Everything sounds like it’s the best cocktail for my hair. So, if I’m so picky with what I eat why can’t I be picky about what I put on my hair?Arlene Rivera — Owner and founder of “Maxine’s Shears and Wigs, Salon and Barbershop
“A lot of people buy an expensive conditioner that they rinse out and spend very little on the shampoo. I recommend buying a quality shampoo. And conditioner that you will also leave in.”
Rivera says — “It doesn’t matter what country you come from. What ethnicity you are. How many different ethnic heritages you have. Curls are curls. And if you identify as one race or another, or if you are multiethnic, ethnically targeted products are more about marketing than providing what your hair requires to be healthy and strong.”
Styling curls without over drying or breakage
Curly hair? Choose your products wisely
Rivera is a fan of “Loma® Hair Care” products. “Loma® Hair Care” manufactures its products in Monroe, Washington, USA.
Victoria Weddle — Digital Media Lead — “Loma® Hair Care,” had this to say about the company’s products.
Loma® Hair Care offers products for all hair types, as well as curly hair. Loma’s naturally healing, organic ingredients moisturize, enhance, protect, restore and repair the hair. Our ‘Curly Crème’ activates and holds waves and curls for all hair types. It’s not just about style, but healthier, stronger, shinier hair.Victoria Weddle — Digital Media Lead — Loma® Hair Care
“Loma® Hair Care” offers “Naturally Inspired, Organically Infused Hair Care’ products.
Nearly 30-years-ago Loma® innovated the use of organic aloe vera gel in the salon industry. They infuse pure water with concentrated organic aloe vera powder — the main ingredient in “Loma® Hair Care’s” products.
Today, “Maxine’s Shears …” is truly a family venture with Rivera’s husband — Robert Gomez, also from Puerto Rico, joining the team 4-years-ago as a barber and Locktician — a loctician is someone who specializes in the starting, maintaining, caring, and styling of locs (dreadlocks).
This philanthrocapitalist-family is doing good for their community. Offering quality, natural products. And creating happy, curly heads world-wide.