Melange Salon is a great place to get a haircut, have your makeup done, or treat yourself to a facial. It’s a small but cozy salon where the stylists are committed to happy customers. The salon itself is great, but the real treasure of Melange Salon is the Cuban-American owner, Yaima Fernandez. Yaima has worked hard to get to where she is today and her story of determination is truly inspirational.

Yaima was born and raised in Cuba. She has fond memories of doing hair and makeup for her neighbors. It wasn’t a full time job, but it was something she enjoyed. “I would do hair for what would be equal to 50 cents here in the United States,” says Yaima. When she received the opportunity to come to the U.S. on a visa, she decided that she would transition from doing hair as a hobby to hairstyling as a full-time career.

The move from Cuba to the U.S. was not an easy one. When Yaima started beauty school at the Aveda Institute, she barely spoke any English and was the only Spanish-speaking student at the time. She would often resort to communicating with her hands. Not only was there a language barrier, but there was also the difficulty of being far away from family. The last time Yaima was able to return to Cuba was seven years ago.

“Sometimes, I think there is a lack of understanding of how hard it is to be an immigrant. You have to learn an entirely new language and culture, while also adjusting to a new place. It was really hard for me. When you come to a new country, you can feel lost,” says Yaima. However, she has come to feel at home with her community in Lafayette. “People here have been so open and supportive. I’ve met so many friendly people,” Yaima notes.

Along with getting settled into the community, Yaima has also gotten settled into running a business. After completing school, Yaima worked at the Lisa Karen Salon for ten years. When the salon became short-staffed, work turned difficult for Yaima. She realized she would either need to go to another salon, or move forward to buy the salon from Lisa.

From there, things moved quickly. Yaima brought up her proposition to Lisa, and within a day Lisa sold her the salon. “I didn’t know anything about business at the time, but Lisa helped me so much. We’ve been working together for 14 years now, and she has been such a source of support,” says Yaima.

Though it was an exciting time for Yaima, there were still some hardships. She is a single mother with twin daughters. “I love them so much, but it definitely adds a challenge,” says Yaima. However, she has her mother as a role model. “She was a single mother as well. Back in Cuba, she was a nurse, and she was constantly traveling and working. She is definitely my motivation for what I do today,” says Yaima.

Another challenge for Yaima was finding good people to work with. She has a strong work ethic and is determined to work with stylists who share her values. “My team now is great! They are young but they really work hard. Every day I try to let them know how grateful I am. The stylists are very trustworthy which makes my job so much easier,” says Yaima. The team at Melange Salon definitely helps to create a welcoming atmosphere. “Everyone is friendly and we treat our customers like family. We like to introduce clients to each other, and it’s cool to see them come back and know each other,” says Yaima.

Yaima’s unique background adds a special flavor to her salon and to the Acadiana community. Check out Melange Salon and to access exclusive deals and keep things local, download the Towny app to not miss out.