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Hard-luck salon gets a fresh start in Jamaica Plain

Posted by Christina Jedra  March 4, 2013 02:59 PM

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Alba "Iris" Familia cleans up her station

Photo: Deborah Brancic

New businesses are bound to face challenges in their first year, but few have had the problems that the Jamaica Plain salon at 482 Centre Street has had.

First, in 2011, the former D'Milagros Beauty Salon closed down after an eviction that followed city citations against the owner for using unsterilized tools and for failing to post an employee's hairdressing license, according to the Division of Professional Licensure. 

Then, in January, the owner’s niece, who took over the salon, was confronted by state health inspectors who shut her down after finding that her business was not properly licensed to operate.

Today –finally -- Amp Hair Studios is up and running, leaving its hard-luck history behind.

“It’s gonna be off the hook,” Amp’s owner, Aura Melissa Peguero, said of the business, which she plans to expand. The landlord, Gervasios Papadopoulos, is currently renovating the storefront.

Peguero’s troubles began when state health inspectors showed up at her salon in January, asking to see her business license. Peguero, a 25-year-old Dorchester resident, had not submitted a business license application, though she had been running the salon since April of 2011.

She said she had not expected trouble with state officials. "I'm like, so surprised," she said, explaining that there was confusion as to who was operating the salon because her aunt, the previous owner, had her license revoked.

While there, the inspectors found that Peguero did not have a license to operate the current salon. "The reason I hadn't gotten it, I was confused. I thought I needed a certain paper," she said, explaining that she had spent the past 10 months attempting to get an "occupancy form." 

An inspector walked her through the process to obtain her license, she said. The salon's business license has since been approved, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation confirmed.

The former D'Milagros Beauty Salon, licensed to Cesar Peña and run by Milagros Peña, had a history of problems, receiving citations in 2010 for using unsterilized tools and for failing to post an employee's hairdressing license, according to the Division of Professional Licensure.

Peña could not be reached for comment. 

Peguero, then a hairdresser for Peña, said Peña relocated in September of 2011 and opened another salon on South Street which was subsequently shut down. The Centre Street location was vacant for four or five months before Papadopoulos agreed to rent to Peguero, according to his son, Charlie Papadopoulos.

Peguero said she has been working as a hairstylist ever since she attended the former Blaine Beauty School in downtown Boston at the age of 19. "I called them when I was twelve," she said, and she was told to call back after she turned 18.

Peguero said she loves working with people and is hoping to establish herself as a stylist, despite her young age, which throws some customers off.

"They walk right past me 'cause they don't know I'm the owner," she said. She and her employees, Alba "Iris" Familia and Carmen Hernandez, laugh about it all the time, she said.
Peguero said she “learned what to do, and what not to do,” while working for her aunt. “I took care of everything for her."

Pegueroand a partner have plans to expand the salon and renovate the downstairs. She said she envisions a room with shelves full of beauty products. "I want to get [Boston Mayor Thomas] Menino here, maybe call City Hall," she said, thinking about her reopening. She also sees herself owning a chain of salons in the future. "I think I could do 10 more," she said.

But for now, the 25-year-old single mother is happy just to have the hard-luck salon back on track. "I think I'm doing good. I'm still here," she said.

This article was reported and written under the supervision of Northeastern University journalism instructor Lisa Chedekel, as part of collaboration between The Boston Globe and Northeastern.

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