STAMFORD, Conn. – Haydee de la Rivera started her own salon because she wanted to be her own boss. She’s still going strong at her Stamford business, Haydee Coiffures, 47 years later.
“I didn’t want to work for anybody any more,’’ said de la Rivera, who had previous salon experience before opening her own business. “I didn’t want anybody to tell me what to do.”
When de la Rivera arrived in Stamford from Chile in 1957, she had no formal education and did not know English. She worked at a factory in Stamford before going to hairdressing school. She worked in Darien and purchased the Springdale Beauty Salon in 1967. She later changed the name to Haydee Coiffures, and still works three days a week. Her son, Bernard, manages the store on a daily basis.
“I did not have any experience in hairdressing when I came to this country,’’ de la Rivera said. “I had an interest in it. I thought it was the easiest path to learn a craft in this country. And the people were very nice.”
She found her comfort zone in Springdale. The salon is located at 1003 Hope St., and many of her clients have been with her for years. A Shelton woman drives down weekly have her hair needs serviced by Haydee.
“I’m very thankful,’’ de la Rivera said. “This has been a great neighborhood. The former owners were here for 25 years before I took it over. It’s been a great place to do business.”
De la Rivera said early on in her career, she had trouble communicating with clients. “I didn’t know a word of English,’’ she said. “I went to night school and took some basic English classes. It was very hard, but I made it.”
One of the highlights from her business career came in 2004 when she was awarded the Generation of Pioneers Award for entrepreneurs from the Latino Foundation of Stamford.
She believes her clientele enjoys the atmosphere of the business, which is why so many customers remain loyal. “They like the way we manage our business,’’ de la Rivera said. “It’s a place that is so friendly. We serve coffee for people who are waiting. It’s a home away from home. It’s a very friendly atmosphere.”
Once she found her passion, de la Rivera pursued it. “This was it,’’ she said. “I wasn’t going to find another passion.”
She passed on her passion to Bernard, who joined the business full-time in 1983. They have made the perfect team, blending their personalities and skills to service clients old and new.
“I am surprised it has been going this long,’’ Haydee said. “We have to keep up with the needs of the clients and doing what they want. We’ve done it just by having people recommend it. So far, it’s been working out.”