Bristol resident Linda Pacheco had no idea what life in America could offer when she and her family moved to the United States from Portugal at age 7. But today, she is living her version of the American dream.
Pacheco, 49, has worked at various hair salons in Bristol and Warren over the past two decades. She was most recently employed at Jaide Salon in Bristol, until she found out that her employer faced losing the business. Instead of hanging up her scissors, Pacheco decided she had to do something.
"I always wanted to have my own salon and me and the other girls working at Jaide faced losing our jobs," Pacheco said, admitting the loss in this poor economy could have been devastating. "So I decided to make an offer to buy the salon, not only so we would all still have a place to work, but because I knew if I didn't do it now I might never have my own place."
Pacheco scraped up the money to make it happen, but said she doesn't regret buying the place for a minute.
"Even with the economy the way it is, I feel at home here," she said. "I truly love what I do and that is what matters."
But Pacheco admits that she may not have bought the business if it had been any other salon. To her, Jaide Salon was special.
"I always told my husband that there was a future here for me," she said. "I can't explain what it was, but every time I drove by and came to work, I would get goosebumps...the good kind. I knew there was something more here."
Since buying the business about two months ago, Pacheco has renamed the salon. Now called Bristol Uptown Salon, she has also given the building a facelift, including new stations and sinks, a new paint job and structural remodeling to create rooms for pedicures.
"It was a bit overwhelming at first, working around the clock to get everything together," she said. "But I'm thankful for my husband. My husband is my biggest supporter and he's the one who has been doing all of the work on the building and who pushed me to follow my dream and start my own business."
But most of all, Pacheco says she is so thankful that her father, a true man from the "old country," brought her to America when she was a child.
"Without my dad, I wouldn't be here, and if he was alive today he would be so proud," she said. "He worked his whole life to give us a better life and he would be so happy to see me working for myself and how far I've come. I know that I'm living his dream."
Pacheco will be hosting the Bristol Uptown Salon grand opening from 2 to 5 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 2. It will include food, drinks and raffles.