for Your Hair
by Krystal A. Zaragoza
New Mexico WOMAN
A recent slot on QVC, the famous home shopping network, was all part of the plan for Jacqueline and Elizabeth Asher. Their organic hair care and body care lines were featured in early March, and they certainly plan for more.
Currently, Tijeras Organic Alchemy products are sold around the country: in New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, California, and of course, New Mexico. Profits on the company were up 19 percent in 2006 over 2005, and the two expect profits to be up 20 percent for 2007 over last year
Elizabeth, a certified barber, and Jacqueline, a certified cosmetologist, are exactly what everyone would like their hairstylists to look like. They're two beautiful women, in the middle of life, with great hair. While I sat with them in their salon, on a sofa chair next to a fireplace blazing a warm heat, Elizabeth and Jacqueline finished each other's sentences while talking about their organic product line, the beginnings of their salon, their relationship with each other, and their relationships with customers who have grown with them during their almost 30 years in service in Albuquerque. "Wha's really nice about our company is our relationship," said Jacqueline, president of Tijeras Organic Alchemy. "That is what is number one to us."
"So many people say, "Oh, it must be hard to have a family business," and it's our blessing that we have each other," added Elizabeth, who is vice president. "(Jacqueline's) strong suit is the business aspect and my strong suit is the customer services aspect. And we've been together since 1980."
And 1980 was a big year for the mother-daughter duo. 1980 was the year Elizabeth graduated from high school and joined her mother in the salon, Tijeras Hair Company. 1980 was the year Jacqueline built her dream version of the salon, which they still operate out of today on Indian School Road in Albuquerque. 1980 was also the year Jacqueline and Elizabeth realized there just wasn't a good hair care product for the desert Southwest.
Tijeras Organic Alchemy was born four years ago out of their original hair care line, when Jacqueline and Elizabeth decided to focus on what is best for their clients and their hair.
In the name, Tijeras (which means "scissors" in Spanish) represents hair and salon quality, organic represents purity of ingredients, and alchemy brings the two together with salon quality products made with pure and clean ingredients. Their original line was shampoo, conditioner, and a revitalizer, and it now consists of 17 products, ranging from scented or unscented shampoos and conditioners to body wash, bath lotions, and body salts.
"People are already more aware of the advantages of eating organic foods and cautious of what they put in their bodies but not of what they are putting on their bodies," Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth and Jacqueline said their products are part of the pioneer market of organic products, the next step after foods to all-organic lifestyles. Elizabeth and Jacqueline said their products take into account two things that other organics don't: the arid New Mexico climate and salon quality.
"People assume our hair care products only work in the Southwest, and we tell them that they work even better in other climates because you don't have the arid climate," Elizabeth said.
Jacqueline and Elizabeth have managed to secure help with business proposals and investment strategies from Technology Ventures Corp., an investor company that usually specializes in helping small businesses involved in cutting edge technology. Randy Wilson and George Friberg of TVC have worked with Jacqueline for the past four years. Wilson heard about Jacqueline's venture into the organic product market through his wife, who had been a long-time customer of Tijeras Hair Company. While Tijeras Organic Alchemy doesn't fit into technology category, Randy and George felt the products were entering a very large market with big opportunities
"The organic skin and hair care market is rapidly growing and increasingly important for the aging market, among others," Randy said. Business potential is big. "And both George and I recognized the entrepreneurial spirit in Jacque and Liz and the strong business opportunity they're addressing. So, we helped where we could."
With the help of TVC, Jacqueline and Elizabeth are diligently working to expand their market through fundraising (think chocolate bars for the health and beauty conscious adult), corporate gifts, and heavy promotion of their website (www.tijeras.net), where you can order products.
While their salon, Tijeras Hair Company, is small with only four employees, they like to keep it that way. "We were a big salon once," Jacqueline said. But they decided to keep simple and small; she and Elizabeth are the only employees who cut and color hair so they could focus on their clients' needs. Their salon clientele is 40 percent male and 60 percent female, Jacqueline said.
"We've encountered wonderful people with beautiful stories," Jacqueline said. "And we've gone through cancer with them, childbearing, and death. And these things bless our lives and help us to understand them better."
One client they have hair-styled since the late 1980s is Jan Maples. Maples said she heard about Tijeras Hair Company in 1989 while attending the University of New Mexico. A student in her class had a "great" haircut and she asked where she got it. Maples has been a loyal customer who uses their products ever since.
"I get a consistently reliable haircut that people have always commented "looks good"," Maples said. "And Liz does the best color in town. They're good human beings on top of that. They care about their customers."
Krystal A. Zaragoza has a bachelor's degree in Journalism and English from the University of New Mexico . She grew up in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho and occasionally works as a freelance reporter.