We had the good fortune of connecting with Nichole Gustas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nichole, so let’s start with how you started?
My first clients were, as I’m sure most hairstylists can relate, my friends and family members. I still remember cutting bangs for a school friend (without permission) when I was probably 10-11 years old, and I also remember the stern lecture I received from her mother afterwords! I started regularly cutting my dads hair when I was in high school to help save the family money during tough times, but I instantly fell in love and moved onto the rest of my family members. My little sister was definitely the most eager. Always willing to let me try different color ideas and funky haircuts. I can proudly say she actually won “Best Hair” in school! My families constant confidence in me was the launching pad for my passion but it wasn’t until the Co-Director of my local beauty school came into my place of work one day, about a year after I had graduated high school, and made me promise to come in and apply for the Cosmetology program. I had no way of paying for something like that, as I was already working 2 jobs, but I promised to come to the interview regardless. When I went for the interview the Director of the school offered me a near full scholarship and showed me how to apply for grants that would allow me to quit one of my jobs so I could attend school everyday. If it weren’t for those 2 women reaching out, guiding and encouraging me, it’s unclear if I would have ever found a path to my dream career and ultimately opening my own space, Rituals Hair Studio in Encinitas, CA.
What should our readers know about your business?
I opened Rituals Hair Studio in September 2019 in the heart of Encinitas, California. I believe one of the most special things about Rituals, and that I’m very proud of, is that I feel that I’ve successfully created a space that when you visit, feels as if you are relaxing in your own private hair salon. It’s a place where a guest can sip on a glass of wine and order in lunch while receiving the highest quality hair services. I am also very proud to have been featured on modernsalon.com multiple times and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the top artists in the industry on product campaigns and videos. This I hope gives new clients some example of the skill and creativity I poor into my work, that can be expected in their appointments when they visit Rituals Hair Studio. I’d like people to know about Rituals Hair Studio because as individuals we often forget to give the care to ourselves that we give so freely to the ones around us. My guests receive a custom experience tailored just for them. I work to create a space where THEY feel special and cared for. One that results in feeling that way long after they leave my chair because they feel confident when they look in the mirror. Everyone deserves that.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m actually pretty experienced in this, as I’m originally from Utah and have had many friends and family visit San Diego on vacation. When guests arrive one of our first stops is usually Miramar Fish Tacos and Beer in Oceanside to order the Tamarind Michelada! At the very least one whole day is spent at either Oceanside or Carlsbad beach. Another day is usually spent visiting Oceanside Pier and the stands below, walking around the shops in Carlsbad Village, and of course a beach sunset. If friends are in town we treat them to a night bar and restaurant hopping in Little Italy or the Gaslamp Quarter and brunch at Cafe 21 the next morning. If visiting during baseball season Petco Park is a MUST as well. Sightseeing always includes the beach in La Jolla, and Balboa Park. Kayaking at the harbor in Oceanside followed by lunch at Rockin Baja is also always a great time for everyone.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
When it comes to the growth I’ve made in my career and in my confidence as a stylist I wouldn’t be where I am now without my previous employer Minh Le-Villalta of The Swank Studio in Oceanside. Minh gave me the tough love and guidance in my career that I desperately needed to reach my potential. She was an amazing mentor that I’ve always referred to as my Yoda. I’m grateful for her guidance and to call her a friend. Another person responsible for always lifting me up in my career is my amazing husband Mario. He’s always encouraged and pushed me to strive for more. Nothing is beyond my grasp in is eyes. He’s my biggest fan.
Instagram: @nicholedoeshair , @ritualsencinitas