Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 7th 2014 Contents A34
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, May 7, 2014
• From Page A33
At 17, and a bright girl she ought to have
been thinking about her A-levels but instead
she suddenly found herself in a position
where she needed to earn money, fast. Always
interested in fashion, beauty and hairdressing,
she decided to train for nine months as a
hairdresser in San Fernando before moving
to a salon called Headlines where she earned
only $250 a week in wages.
"Luckily I have a fantastic mother, who
looked after my baby and allowed me to
find my feet and a career," Pierre says. "She
said to me, You re young, don t waste your
life sitting around all day, you need to work.
But for five years, Pierre worked hard for
very little money.
"There were times I really didn t know
where the next meal was coming from," she
She had a stepfather who worked, while
her mother cared for her baby, but she didn t
feel it was right to ask him for financial help
as he had other children of his own to sup-
Her biological father, growing up, was
"around but not around. He hid money from
my mother. One time she asked him for milk
to feed me, when I was a baby and he said
he didn t have money to give her and she
watched him walk out into the street, take
money from the trunk of his car and give it
to somebody else."
Such were her early years.
After five years working at Headlines salon,
a friend, Roxanne, told her she wasn t fulfilling
her full potential. She told her Pierre could
earn a lot more and achieve something in
"I learned a lot from my first boss at Head-
lines," says Pierre, "but after a while you feel
you don t love what you do. You want to
really showcase what you are capable of but
people make you feel you can t do it."
The move to Port-of-Spain, while
inevitable, was bold.
"I didn t have a car, didn t know the city
or where I was going but I set off travelling
in a taxi nevertheless and went to take a job
at Hairlines at the Normandie (in St Ann s.)"
She worked for Gillian Thong for more
than two years, working on commission,
taking home a percentage of what she earned.
It was a lot more than she had been earning
but there were still days she didn t know
how she was going to pay the bills.
When Hairlines closed its St Ann s salon
and moved to Maraval, she decided it wasn t
the right move for her; for a long time she
had wanted to go independent---which in
hairdressing means, initially, renting your
own station within a salon. She had already
built up a loyal client base and they all fol-
lowed her to her next salon at Ellerslie Plaza,
"It worked out well at first. I knew what
it was like to make your own money, be your
own boss and not have a boss putting you
down," she says. "It was then that I decided
when I have my own place I would never
have employees working for me on com-
mission with me taking money off their
earnings. Hairdressers and beauticians need
the ability to stand on their own two feet,
not be ripped off by salon owners."
She says the atmosphere at the salon grad-
ually deteriorated and her relations with the
other workers became strained. "Lots of
women often means lots of bacchanal," she
The salon was taken over by a new owner
and not for the first time she was dealing
with anger, jealousy and resentment from
somebody senior to her. She moved again,
this time to Maraval, but it ended up being
a leap from "one bad situation into another.
It was a disaster."
Initially she was paying $3,000 in rent,
but the owner saw Pierre had a lot of clients
and decided to suddenly up the rent to
$4,000, using the excuse that she needed
to pay a cleaner. No cleaner materialised,
and Pierre, in protest and to make a point,
stopped cleaning the salon until the boss
complained about how untidy the place was.
They had a disagreement and she could
feel the workplace tension rising again.
Over Christmas period 2011, Pierre says
she prayed for something to come along to
change her fortunes.
"I said to myself, I m ready to go it alone
now and open my own place, but I didn t
know where the finances would come from."
Within two weeks her prayers were
answered. Skimming through the T&T
Guardian she saw an ad for a 1,200-square-
foot salon for rent on Herbert Street, St
She went to look, saw it needed some
work but realised "it was open, airy. It was
With no idea if she d be able to afford the
monthly payments, she took a huge risk. All
the money she had saved in the world she
withdrew and paid off her last month s rent
in Maraval and her first month in St Clair.
She figured that as it was Christmas---a
busy period for hairdressing so a perfect
time to kick off a new business---and her
clients would be likely to follow her again,
it made sense.
For the Christmas period she worked there
by herself, with just one chair, a brush, a
blowdryer and a mirror on the wall. Her
customers had faith that the place would
get better with physical improvements. "They
stuck with me through thick and thin," Pierre
Her family members made her furniture
and she transformed the shop into a cosy,
warm salon. It has three hairdressers, three
manicurists, a facials room and a boutique
selling clothes and accessories.
Two and a half years down the road, her
business has proved a success.
She married just over a year ago, a senior
technician at TSTT whom she met on a
Carnival Tuesday playing mas in the same
band, Spice. She had wanted her stepfather,
the real father figure in her life, to walk her
down the aisle. But he told her it was only
right if her father had the honour of doing
so.Her daughter, Denisia is now 12 and a
straight A student at her school in San Fer-
She is building a family home in San Fer-
nando, drives an SUV and, with her husband,
is setting up a company, Szuk Events, to
organise and promote boat parties. The first,
a cooler party called Rock So, is scheduled
to take place on July 27.
Asked what the name Szuk means, she
explained that it means, "I m feeling lucky."
She has every right to feel charmed, but
it s not luck that has brought her this far,
it s talent. Talent that will, no doubt, see
her succeed in every venture.
In this life, as Pierre knows, you make
your own luck, even when the odds are
Pierre: I'm feeling lucky
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