Aside from your new look, there’s something else going on in hair salons that can make you feel better.

It’s all about rapport with your stylist — a true confidant who holds your head in her hands. A stylist can be like that close friend you tell it all to or the fellow traveler we end up revealing our life story to on an airplane.

“People confide in you, talk to you, and being able to not only make them beautiful, but also give them a word of hope and advice — that’s for me, the ultimate,” Ana Perez, owner of Kika Hair Design told The Story Exchange.

The salon itself offers up the building blocks for that rapport, bustling with characters from all walks of life who might not normally find themselves in the same room together; trading gossip, swapping stories and escaping reality for a brief respite.

When we went caught up with Perez a few months back, we experienced the inviting atmosphere she has cultivated amongst her staff, sparked by Perez’s infectious smile. She is full of life and welcomes each of her clients with a warm hug.

Perez, who immigrated from Colombia as a child, says she always loved hair and took the first steps on her career path by styling her Barbies. By 16 she was earning money in the trade.

After she received her license she worked for many years, building up a solid clientele. She wanted to start her own business, but lacked the confidence to do so. Since founding Kika, Perez’s only fear is not spending enough time with her loyal customers.