Gerardo and Marina Moran packed their bags and fled El Salvador in 1970 in search of better opportunity for their family. It was then that they combined their experience from behind the chair and passion for pleasing clients to buy Antonio and Antoinette’s Beauty Salon in Mineola.
“I consider this store like a big sister to me because I had to fight with my parents like a sibling with this place for attention. This is where they were all the time when I was growing up, from 7 in the morning until 7 at night, seven days a week,” said 44-year-old Carlos Moran, the couple’s son.
He grew up to become a New York City police detective until he retired in 2012 after a severe shoulder injury. Later that year, Marina Moran was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was estimated to have only six months to live.
Knowing that time was of the essence, Carlos Moran was persuaded by his parents to attend the Paul Mitchell Beauty School, where he received his cosmetology license in 2013. “We both didn’t think we would have this future. We never think about our parents’ jobs, you know?” said Carlos. “They are who they are, we are who we are. And then life threw up a curve ball and we said to ourselves, ‘we gotta do something, we gotta keep the doors open.’”
Jenny Barrera, Carlos’ sister, renewed her cosmetology license that same year from the Long Island Beauty School. Together, the two are part-owners of the salon with their parents.
Now, dedicating herself full-time to Antonio and Antoinette’s, 40-year-old Jenny Barrera said that she felt most inspired by her parents’ ability to earn respect from the community for being the first Latino hair salon on the block.
The store was originally bought from an Italian couple, Antonio and Antoinette. Once the salon was sold to the Morans and opened in 1980, Barrera described how people were hesitant to come there at first.
“I’ve seen this business go through some really good times and bad times. The beginning was definitely rough for my parents, but the community began to trust us as a family business, respect us and love us,” she said.
The salon has a staff of three stylists, including Carlos and Jenny. Marina, now 79 years old, continues to cut hair and works two days a week. Gerardo, 73, serves as a manager.
Carlos said that his parents have always emphasized most the importance of their relationship with clientele and genuine concern to make clients satisfied. “My parents make it look easy. They can work with certain high-end products while still working with a family price,” he said. “My parents care more about the person than the money going into their pocket. I think we must have had only a 2 percent increase in prices in the last 20 years.”
Since becoming part-owners, Carlos and Jenny have made minor changes to the salon such as getting new washer sinks and chairs, introducing Paul Mitchell hair care products and hiring more experienced stylists with new, creative ideas.
The salon’s name will change to A&A Hair Loft because it sounds more modern, yet does not stray far from the traditional family business name, said Jenny.
When asked about the future, Jenny and Carlos both agree that they would love to see their children take over the salon, making it a third-generation family business.
“I have a 3-year-old daughter and I guess because I grew up in the business, I’m not going to force her to join it. But she’s very artistic. She plays with mannequins, and she’s really good at braids. I can definitely see her going into it,” said Barrera.
Carlos described his gratitude toward the community and its support of his parents over the course of 40 years. “We’ve very grateful to be able to work with the community and to continue our parents’ legacy,” he said.