Volume 79, Number 30 | December 30 - January 5, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Villager photo by Clayton Patterson

At the Dec. 12 ribbon-cutting for Johanny’s Beauty School, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, left, joined owner Johanny Lugo, next to her, and other beauties.

Beauty school offers jobs training that’s a cut above

By Helaina N. Hovitz 

It was a beautiful moment earlier this month on Clinton St., when Johanny Lugo and Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Johanny’s Beauty School.

Lugo came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic 20 years ago, and originally opened her beauty salon on Avenue C. High rent forced her to move a bit further south after 10 years in business.

On Saturday morning Dec. 12, Lugo’s customers, community members and other people who helped her build her business, about 30 in all, gathered outside the salon, at 23 Clinton St., along with the salon owner and the congresswoman for the ribbon-cutting.

The daylong event included tours of the new beauty school, demonstrations, free haircuts and beauty product giveaways.

The beauty school is located at the former site of Lugo’s salon, which will reopen on Jan. 21 at a new location right nearby, 20 Clinton St.

“Nydia Velazquez’s department was highlighting trying to keep local small businesses in the Lower East Side in business,” said Zebi Williams, the economic justice campaign organizer of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), who helped organize the ribbon-cutting event. Williams said the congresswoman gave a speech about how small businesses are the backbone of communities, and that small businesses opened by Latina women are the fastest-growing sector.

“I have always said that owning a small business is one of the greatest achievements a person can accomplish, and Johanny is the perfect example of how today’s entrepreneurs are working to rebuild our economy while improving their communities,” said Velazquez. 

Lugo participated in GOLES’s Lower East Side small business survey, which was conducted in 2006 and 2007 and released in early 2009.

Lugo’s goal is to create affordable training for people in the neighborhood that will ultimately give them a viable income.

When asked what it was like to have the congresswoman at the ribbon-cutting, Lugo responded, “Oh my God, this is amazing. I feel very proud to have her in my party.” She also noted that the congresswoman will continue to help her. “I am going to register around 50 students, but right now it’s little by little. I have six registered already,” Lugo said.

As the Lower East Side’s first beauty school, Johanny’s will be offering affordable job training opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in the beauty industry as a cosmetologist, hairstylist or nail technician. 

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