The Lounge Q+A: Sulamita Palmer, Hairstylist

Interview with Sulamita Palmer

Celebrity Hairstylist, Dominican Hair Expert

Sula’s Dominican Hair Salon

@sulasdominicanhairsalon

@chulachula

Immigrating from the Dominican Republic to the United States in her early 20s, celebrity hair stylist Sulamita shares her story on how grit and apprenticeships helped her land celebrity clients like Cardi B and Eva Longoria.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m from the Dominican Republic, and I came to Georgia. I live in Georgia in the United States. There wasn’t a Dominican hair salon in this community. Many people love this style in New York, and many people are looking for Dominican hair salons, especially African Americans. Many people love how we do hair!

 

What is Dominican hair?

Our hair is more bouncy, and we don’t use a lot of grease. We leave the hair and use a deep conditioner. We keep the hair moist, so it grows and doesn’t break. We use a steamer too and we keep the hair healthy. That is why people love it.

 

How did you get into this business?

My friends. They asked me if I could do it and asked me if I could blow their hair. I started when I was only 16. I went to school for hair and did my high school at the same time. I worked at a hair salon. It was my life. Then I came to America when I was 24 years old.

 

I learned it by myself, and I checked out how my ex-boss did it. She didn’t teach me. I just watched her how she did the cash, how she ran the business. You need to be an apprentice or ask questions to understand how it works.

What is the Dominican work ethic?

When I grew up, my Mom was very poor. We were very poor. We had food, but not the things you have in America. When I grew up, I said, I want to have my own salon. I want to have my own house, my own car. So I worked hard.

 

Do Dominicans take pride in their appearance?

They love to look beautiful. So everybody over there, they wash their hair every week. They work for that. They like to go to the hair salon every week. There’s no air conditioner like here, there is a lot of dust, so you have to keep your hair clean. They do their hair on Saturday mostly, and then people love to go out dancing.

 

Is this a family business?

My Grandfather, he was a barber. I have a couple cousins. They are hairstylists too. My sister is also a stylist. My Son, he hasn’t gone to school for it, but he has the gift. You have to love it. I love my job!

 

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What vibe do you create for your clients?

It depends on the customers that I have. If there are a lot of young girls, then I try and play upbeat music. If it is a teacher, then maybe more relaxed and calm. If they are Dominicans then I play the music they love.

 

How did you learn to run a business?

I learned it by myself, and I checked out how my ex-boss did it. She didn’t teach me. I just watched her how she did the cash, how she ran the business. You need to be an apprentice or ask questions to understand how it works.

 

How do you use Pocketsuite?

That’s the best thing that I have. I can be in my bed working, making appointments anywhere, customers can cancel by Pocketsuite too. They can cancel and reschedule their appointments. They can text you, and you can find people, send text messages, tell them we’re going to be closed, or when we’re not going to be closed.

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