Victoria Leiato’s life changed when her mother went to beauty school. She was 6 when her parents divorced, and she and her two sisters lived with their now-single mother in El Paso. The family was surviving off food stamps and staying in government housing when her mother, an immigrant from Mexico, decided to become an esthetician.
“We were in a rough place,” says Leiato, who opened her own salon, The Bloom Space, last May in Oak Cliff. But “within two-to-three years that she was in beauty school, she was able pull us out of financial turmoil.”
Her mom got a job at an El Paso salon. It was like that scene in In the Heights, “but “a little less gossipy.” It felt like family there, and Leiato’s mom, who’s been working at the same salon for nearly 20 years, was able to establish a client base. They got off food stamps. Leiato and her sisters were able to attend college with little-to-no debt.
“I saw how our family could have upward mobility through my mom’s income through the beauty industry,” Leiato says. She never forgot that lesson.
Leiato graduated from University of Texas at El Paso in 2017 with degrees in organizational communications and linguistics. She and her husband, Michael, moved to Dallas, and Leiato began working for companies like Apple and Target. But, by the time she was furloughed and eventually let go from her job in the early days of the pandemic, she was burned out from the corporate world.
“I was stressed out all the time,” she says. “Up until owning a business, I never had