Stylish and Fearless Long Beach Salon Owner, Oscar Vasquez
Written By: Nanda Dyssou
Photographed By: Wil Cohen The Studio O
The Studio O Salon has long been a prime choice in hair salons for Long Beach residents looking for a new hairstyle or a boost to their signature looks. The posh yet welcoming salon is also a popular destination for a hearty chat with one of their four friendly stylists who are guaranteed to make all guests feel at home. I interviewed Owner, and Long Beach hair styling maestro, Oscar Vasquez on the occasion of the third anniversary of The Studio O’s opening.
Q: What made you want to become a hair stylist?
Oscar Vasquez: I got started in the industry when I was 19 years old. I had a neighbor who drove the coolest car, a 5.0 Mustang convertible, and had the coolest life, and I really looked up to him. But the one thing I admired the most was that he had this really fun career that he loved: he did hair. I followed in his footsteps. I enrolled in beauty school and instantly fell in love with the industry. It felt like it wasn’t me picking the career but the career picking me. And 16 and a half years later, here I am.
Q: What do you enjoy the most about your work?
OV: I enjoy the relationship I get to build with people. Hair styling is an avenue to an ongoing party of conversations, all day long. And they can be really personal, intimate, or superficial and fun and outrageous; however, it’s the intimacy I share with my clients that I love. Making someone feel beautiful, confident, like they can achieve anything is what motivates me.
Q: Is meeting new people on a regular basis part of the allure, too?
OV: Absolutely. Meeting and getting to know someone, a new client, is almost like being on a first date. That person is a mystery and they are curious about you and you are curious about them…It’s exciting!
Q: Why did you choose to open The Studio O Salon?
OV: I opened the studio to create a space for myself and for others to express ourselves creatively. But what I’ve learned in the process has made me grow so much as a hair stylist and as a business owner. Being an entrepreneur really challenges you, stretches you to unbelievable levels. A part of me enjoys that stretching, a part of me fears that stretching, so it’s always a balancing act, but it’s exciting. That’s why I do it. The challenge of what’s next, what else, what’s new, the reinvention of one’s self is really important to me and I get to do that at the Studio.
Q: What has been the greatest learning experience for you in the last three years?
OV: I’m someone who likes to always be in control. Learning to trust and surrender has been a huge part of my growth as a business owner. To trust other people that everything will be perfect without me being around and to surrender control…That hasn’t been easy but I have to just do it, week by week.
Q: Who is on your trusted team?
OV: We have four hair stylists and an aesthetician: all really loving, open people who are great at what they do. They are as passionate about people and our craft as I am. They are super talented. They are also very responsible people not just in their jobs but at home too. And we are all different, but we work really well together, as a family.
Q: What are your plans for the next 3 years?
OV: It’s such an exciting time for us. We’ve recently brought in Oribe, a product line we love. I’ve created relationships with modeling agencies in Los Angeles, so we are constantly being asked to do editorials, which is very exciting. I’ve also brought in a business coach to help me create systems, so our level of professionalism has risen even further. And I’m definitely looking at expansion in the future.
Q: Why did you choose Long Beach as your salon’s location?
OV: I was born and raised in Orange County. I moved to Long Beach 15 years ago and I love it here. I found that the Long Beach community is very trusting, and I’m so grateful for how they’ve welcomed me and The Studio O among them.
Q: Would you say you have built strong ties to the community, then?
OV: Absolutely. Last year, I participated in “Neighborhood Leadership Long Beach.” It was an intensive, six-month-long volunteer program, where I got to go out in the community and make a difference. Through that program I met a lot of great people, gained some amazing experiences, and found a lot of new clients, too.
Q: What makes The Studio O Salon so popular?
OV: I and the other stylists at The Studio O have a passion for and commitment to making every client feel like they are at home. We want them to know from the minute they walk in that they will be well cared for. I want every individual to feel like they belong there. I want to tailor our craft to their needs and bring out their unique beauty. That’s why we only use top-notch products. Also, everyone in the salon is trained in a program called “Elevation H, ” which started from the Creator of Vidal Sassoon in Santa Monica. It’s a set of courses that every hairstylist goes through, so no matter who you see in our salon, they can all do the same great hair cuts.
Q: What hairstyles, cuts and colors are currently trending?
OV: Right now, anything goes, whether you are an edgier or more glamorous person. It’s about bringing out your individuality. On the color front we saw a huge transition in the last three years. We went from using lots of golds into using tons of pastels and now we are moving to the ash world. Very ashy blondes are the most popular shades of the color realm right now. It’s really great because we can turn someone who is not usually a blonde into a blonde by using this matted, ashy toner, which makes it look super lived in and edgy. It’s the hottest trend right now. We have also been doing the balayage trend, which goes really well with the ash tones. Natural hair textures are also hot right now. If you have curly hair, we want to bring that out. We want you to be an individual and rock your own, unique beauty.
Q: Is there a trend you wish would come to an end or you are glad to see gone?
OV: A trend that I’m so glad is over is the chunky highlights of the nineties. Today’s lived-in look is so much more natural and flattering.
Q: Do you have any lesser known hair styling tips for readers?
OV: One thing I always tell my clients is to trust their hair stylist. When it comes to products, a lot of people experiment on their own and end up with a pile of products under their bathroom sink. That’s such a waste. Your hair stylist is a professional, they are taking all the courses, staying on top of industry news and products. So my biggest tip is to trust your stylist.
The Studio O Salon
5580 East 2nd Street Ste 103
Long Beach, CA 90803
The Studio O is a Long Beach Locale for Salon Goers
Nanda Dyssou is a journalist and writer of Hungarian and Congolese origin. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of California in Riverside with a BA in Creative Writing, and is currently a 2018 MFA candidate in Fiction at UCR. Nanda enjoys working in a variety of writing fields, and is currently at work on a novel, a short story cycle, and several essays.