Salon owner sets day aside to help La Jolla High School

Salon Jose hair salon in La Jolla is hosting a salon-a-thon Saturday, Feb. 2 starting at 10 a.m. to benefit La Jolla High School Foundation, the school’s fund-raising support arm, to aid essential school programs decimated by ongoing budget cuts.

“I’ve learned in life that the more you give, without any expectation of anything in return, the more you have in your life,” said Jose Figueroa, owner of Salon Jose at 7760 Fay Ave., Suite A, the past nine years. “It’s an absolute joy for me to take one of my busiest days, block it out for this event, and donate 100 percent of our proceeds for all the haircuts and blow dries that we do. My goal is to do 100 heads that day and raise $5,000.”

This is the second consecutive year Figueroa has stepped up to help La Jolla High School. Last year his fund-raising, hair-cutting event was held in the summer and generated $2,000.

Caroline Farwell, La Jolla High School Foundation spokeswoman, said donated funds go a long way toward filling in budgetary gaps in school funding.

“La Jolla High School Foundation has funded everything from artificial turf for the football field to a backstop for the softball field,” she said. “The foundation fills in wherever government cuts. It’s amazing how skin and bones they are down there at the budget level.

“We fund partial teachers’ and nurses’ salaries, white boards and teacher and nurse supplies. We send teachers to special seminars in accredidation.”

Farwell lauded Figueroa for his generosity. “He’s just a charming, great guy who wants to give back,” she said. “He really has no vested interest, other than that he takes care of the hair of a lot of La Jolla’s women, daughters and girls. Hopefully, he will serve as an inspiration for other merchants to donate 20 percent or some portion of their sales to give back to the high school.”

Figueroa moved to La Jolla from Newport Beach in 1995 and worked in several salons in the Jewel before breaking out on his own. He has been successful though the competition has been extremely tough. “I believe there are more salons in the 92037 ZIP code than there are in any other ZIP code in California,” he said. “It’s high density.”

There are 15 or so hair salons within just a block or two of Salon Jose on Fay Avenue. Nonetheless, Figueroa believes there’s plenty of business to go around for everyone. “We really have farmed the community,” he said. “We really tend to grow with our clients, so we don’t see other salons as competition. Our niche is very inclusive. We’re much more connected to our clients than most salons.”

Salon Jose cuts both men’s and women’s hair, though the pecentage is probably about 80 percent women, 20 percent men. The rapport Jose Salon has developed with its clientele over the years is what distinguishes the establishment. “Not only do we have the mothers,” said Figueroa, “but we have the daughters, the brothers, the husbands. We have two or three generations, which is very rare, because most salons tend to have one specific generation and that’s it. There’s a strong sense of community. They want to come here.”

Most of Salon Jose’s clients are La Jollans. A large percentage are members of Las Patronas, a local organization that annually raises thousands of dollars for charities and other worthy causes.

There is one thing Salon Jose is known, far and wide, for specializing in. “Our forte is color and blow dries,” said Figueroa.

Education is a big part of what Salon Jose is all about. Once or twice a year for three days, Figueroa sends his six hairdressers to New York City to study at Bumble & Bumble, one of the country’s most exclusive hair-care product lines. “We have a very East Coast way of doing hair,” noted Figueroa, “it’s much more tailored, much more custom.”

Figueroa claims he was born to do hair.

“I was always obsessed with hair,” he said, “ever since I was a child. It’s in my blood. I love it.”

Figueroa talked about the importance of hair to an individual. “Hair is such an intricate part of their being that it’s something they feel they have the power to change,” he said, “even if it’s just a highlight, a fringe here or there, short or long - it gives them that ability to say, ‘I feel different, because I look different.’ It’s a very powerful tool that clients have at their disposal. To say, ‘I want to go from blond to red’: It’s pretty fantastic to be able to do that and not damage hair.”

The latest in technology has made hair coloring much safer than ever before. Said Figueroa: “It’s 100 percent related to the chemicals you use. We use the best product, the most expensive product, that I can get my hands on. I choose to use it because it does not compromise the hair and the client’s hair is actually shinier and softer after their hair is colored than it was prior.”

Hair coloring at Salon Jose starts at $120. It lasts about six weeks. Figueroa uses a product in hair coloring that’s very mild and gentle, geared for teenage girls, to cover gray hair. “The result is really soft, really shiny, really healthy hair,” he said.

As people age, Figueroa said they want to do it gracefully. He therefore acts accordingly in “transitioning” their hair as the years go by. “We don’t want to do anything that makes it look too artificial,” he said. “You tend to want it to go softer and lighter. So we tend to use three or four different colors on one client to give them that look of brighter, more natural-looking color, instead of shoebox black. We do not do that.”

Salon Jose is also unique in another respect: It displays paintings by local artist Debra Flanagan. “It’s abstract, it’s simple,” noted Figueroa, “but it really has a lot of color and life. She shows her work and sells it here.”

Above all else, Figueroa is proud of his staff. He said: “It’s very cohesive. We’re very progressive. We travel constantly. We’re always having education. We are always exceeding our client’s expectations. That’s critical. Our goal is to exceed any expectation they might come in with. It’s what separates us.”

Genuineness is also key to the success of Salon Jose. Said Figueroa: “We care about our clients, and I think they see that. Their loyalty is our reward.”

For more information about Salon Jose call (858) 456-7279 or e-mail