We had the good fortune of connecting with Val Mendez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Val, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Since the beginning of my barber career I’ve been taking risks, the decision alone to be in the hair industry was just the start. I started my career not fully understanding what I was getting into as far as the amount of work it would take to be successful aside from knowing how to cut hair. I didn’t grasp the concept of “being my own business”. Even after quitting, I had a reached a point in my life that I decided to take the risk of reentering the hair industry. Starting from zero again was a huge gamble and I wasn’t sure in what direction I wanted to take it. I just knew that this was the career path for me, I have a passion for being in this industry that I had not experienced for anything else. Taking another chance, I was surrounded by doubt and even discouragement that I would be able to make this work. So with passion and motivation, I decided to jump in and give everything I could to be successful because in my mind this was it for me, what I’m meant to do. When I think about a risk now, I’ve learned over the years to trust myself and my instincts. Embracing that confidence, has led me to some incredible experiences and opportunities that I could have only dreamt of. Nothing is guaranteed but what I would regret more is not taking the chance at all.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love that industry that I’m in, being a barber has allowed me to embrace my individuality, have creative freedom and branch out to other projects but work when I want . Being a woman in the barber world has not always been an easy process as well, needing to work twice as hard to not only to be taken serious but to earn the respect of your peers. Learning to deal with discouragement from all directions and build a clientele from nothing and all the struggles that come with it. I have worked extremely hard to establish myself in this industry but I also take pride in maintaining the relationships I have built with my clients.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live about an hour north of San Diego, which is where I’m originally from, so now visiting that area is a lot more fun. I love going by the beach and stopping at the little restaurants and bars. I also loving going by downtown checking out the gas lamp at night.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I really have to thank my mentor, Keino Valley, he believed in me, encouraged and advised me. He helped me gain confidence to take what I already had in me and build something incredible. To this day he still supports me and remains an important part of my career journey. Also to my team, JRL, embracing who I am and accepting me to be a part of a team that supported me and backed me and provided a platform to build and grow.

Instagram: @lalatina_barber

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