My name is Kaliopi Matheakis. I am the owner of PR HAIR EXTENSIONS INC. which is the first business I established in 2013 after returning to New York from Greece. Opening my own salon was my dream or more precisely my goal. I was determined to succeed in my own business. I wasn’t proficient in the language, I didn’t have much money in the bank, a location in mind, or a client base in the United States. What I did have was years of studying, practicing, and working in cosmetology throughout Europe and a deeply ingrained faith in God.
My faith in God was instilled in me by my mother while my father taught me the sensibilities and laws of business. At every turn my mother would remind me to respect the spiritual laws for a fulfilling life. My father balanced this with lessons of practical living that was required to be successful in my personal, professional, and business life.
My father’s advice meant ensuring that my cosmetologist and business license was properly updated and the fees paid on time. My mother’s lessons instilled in me a desire to help others according to the teachings of our faith.
In the beginning my determination to get started on solid legal footing required me to borrow less than a thousand dollars from my father to pay for my licensing fees. My father, Michael Matheakis, a successful self-made businessman had the means to finance my business dreams.
My parents were kind and supportive to me throughout my life. They went above and beyond when I was a student, and as I practiced and studied my craft, I did not want to impose on them into adulthood and my American adventure.
I came to New York on a song and a prayer as they say. I had a dream, packed my bags, and left Greece for the bustle of America. There were times when I wished I had asked for financial backing from my parents, but I was determined to chase my dream on my own two feet. Often that is exactly what I had to do. Many days I didn’t have the $2.50 in my wallet for the subway fare and my two feet were my transportation. At the end of every father daughter phone conversation he would ask if I needed anything, my reply was always definitive, “I’m fine dad, thanks”.
My father was my inspiration to business success. He arrived at Elis Island in the 1960s all by himself as a young immigrant from Greece with his own dream. He didn’t know the language, had no formal education, no savings, and he did not have a family who could afford to financially support him in his journey to America and his quest for success. With the odds stacked against him, he succeeded. He as well as my mother believed that honesty, hard work, faith, and following the law were the keys to success, and he was living proof.
I was determined to follow in his footsteps and fulfill my dreams of success in cosmetology, not just as a recognized artist, but also as a businessperson. I was blessed with both of my parents encouraging me emotionally and supporting all my creative and business ideas. Even when I took time to study and create art, they never questioned my intentions. They never stopped me or discouraged me in pursuing any of my dreams. They would always stand by my side in case I ever fell to give me a hand up and dust me off (most of my falls were emotional, and they provided the guidance I needed).
When I got married my husband slowed down his career so that he would have time to tend to the household and the children. He paused his dreams to allow me the time to chase mine. His support along with the life lessons instilled by my parents allowed me to fulfill my ambitious goals.
I know that there are hairstylists and others in cosmetology who have dreams like mine, but lack the support. Some are held back by abusive relationships by family, friends, and employers. I have achieved a level of accomplishment that now allows me to reach out and help others to walk the path to success and fulfillment.
My goal today is to use my experience to help others. In Greece I use to think to myself about coming to America and opening a business, now I think, “There is more! There is more that I can do for this community that allowed me to succeed other than opening a business. I am now able to offer instruction, guidance, and support to hairstylists who lack a support network or the means to learn the fundamentals of business. As I continue to expand my business ventures, I am also expanding my instructional services for hairstylists, salons, and hair extensions artists. “
Going forward, my dream is to help others reach their dreams. I want to help stylists grow by offering hair classes and teaching them how to become entrepreneurs, open their own business or create partnerships with them in new businesses.