Growing up in Texas, Laura Garofalo always wanted to run her own beauty salon.
“I used to do redneck hair out of my kitchen,” she said, laughing.
Her dream took a backseat after Garofalo, now 54, got married and started a property management business with her first husband. The company was started in their guest house and has grown into a $2 million business.
The marriage, after 28 years, didn’t last.
So, Garofalo, at age 40, went back to school to become a licensed hairstylist. She’s been doing hair in Lake Worth the past six years and has owned and operated Saltlight Salon on 14 S. J Street since October.
“Business has been wonderful,” said Garofalo, who lives in College Park. “In March, we brought in 45 new clients through word of mouth, social media and showing our work. I’ve wanted my own salon since I was 20.”
The site used to be called The Other Salon and was owned by Ryan Maier, a former Lake Worth Commissioner. Garofalo rented a booth from Maier and after he left, Garofalo swooped in and bought the place.
“We made it happen,” she said.
The “we” is referring to Garofalo’s second husband, John, a risk and safety manager at Palm Beach State College whom she met at Key Lime Bar eight years ago. They’ve been married for 3 years.
“He’s been so supportive,” Garofalo said.
There are more than 1,000 clients in Saltlight’s system. About 400 to 500 visit the salon regularly, Garofalo said. “I have one stylist with me and we’re looking to hire another one,” she said.
She said the company’s big push is customer service. “We’re really focusing on that,” she said. “It’s a big thing for us because in this industry, it’s lacking, but not everywhere.”
Saltlight, for instance, guarantees its work 100 percent. If a customer isn’t happy, the salon will do the hair again for free. “They’ve already paid us to do this, and they should be satisfied,” Garofalo said.
The salon also serves wine, beer and cheese and gives customers $5 off their second visit. “We also try to make it aesthetically pleasing, it’s a calm atmosphere and there’s no drama.”
Prices vary from $30 for a men’s haircut (includes a scalp massage) to $1,200 for extensions.
Garofalo is on her feet a lot, which takes a toll. “It’s definitely challenging, physically,” she said. “I’m on my feet 8 to 10 hours a day, so you physically suffer. You have to do something for yourself, like workout.”
But for Garofalo, it’s not work at all. “I’m just playing all day long since I like talking to people,” she said. “You get to know some very cool people, and it’s a very creative outlet.”