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Feature Stories July 16, 2009  RSS feed

Maspeth Salon Adds Magic Touch To Hair

Tranquility Making Its Mark
story and photo by Ralph Mancini

Betty Medina works magic with a bottle of hair spray at her Tranquility salon in Maspeth. Betty Medina works magic with a bottle of hair spray at her Tranquility salon in Maspeth. Betty Medina's lifelong dream of opening her own beauty salon finally became a reality a little over a year ago when she took over Tranquility Hair Salon and Spa, located at 60-78 Flushing Avenue in Maspeth.

Born in Woodside and raised in Maspeth, Medina routinely worked at her craft by practicing on Barbie dolls as a little girl.

After graduating from nearby Martin Luther High School, the enterprising teen followed her passion by enrolling in the Midway Paris beauty school, which launched her career as a favorite among local hairdressers.

Prior to starting her own business, Medina, 37, worked her way up the ladder, initially serving as a shampoo girl at a local Grand Avenue salon for eight years, followed by an additional eight-year stay at another location on the same strip.

With sixteen years under her belt, Medina felt it was time to "venture out" and make it on her own.

She knew she couldn't pass up a good opportunity when the former owner of Tranquility—known as Magic Touch when it first opened— was ready to retire and sell her business.

While the salon already had its stream of steady customers, Medina brought in her own clientele.

She decided to add a bit of her own personal touch to the location's dated decor and also injected a new attitude.

"I wanted to bring a newer face, more of a younger generation," she said.

"But I don't discriminate. I have people of all ages come in from children to seniors."

Currently, Tranquility employs a staff of three, including the 23-yearold Ella from Middle Village.The location welcomes a wide variety of immigrants due to Ella's fluency in Polish and Medina's ability to speak Spanish.

The 17-year veteran doesn't limit herself to cutting and styling, she also offers her expert advice on what type of look best suits a particular individual.

"Not everybody can walk out looking like Jessica Simpson," she said.

"Not every head is meant for certain looks. Some people have four kids and they don't have the extra half-hour to fix their hair—you should go with something that fits your lifestyle."

In addition to working on every type of hair-do under the sun, Medina invites people to pamper themselves to facials and manicures.

Most recently, her "princess parties" have been a real hit with mothers who treat their daughters to a day at the beauty parlor and make them feel like a real grown up.

Down the road, the longtime hair dresser may even consider hiring a massage therapist for her clients, but she's well aware of the limitations of a downtrodden economy.

"Right now, people don't like to spend money on the extras. Everybody needs a haircut, but if you lost your job, [you aren't] going to pay $100 for a massage," she reasoned.

When asked about some of the changes she's witnessed since the 90s, Medina acknowledged that she doesn't work with as many women that seek the "big-hair" look of a bygone era. She further noted that body waves have also become a thing of the past.

As far as new techniques are concerned, Medina mentioned how she's drifted away from using caps for frostings. All highlighting, she continued, is now done with foil instead.

On the side, the Maspeth resident and business owner takes several courses to stay on top of the latest trends.

A Dimensional Color class was one she truly enjoyed, and in which she was shown how to combine multiple hair colors simultaneously.

"No matter how long you're in the business, there's always something new to learn," she maintained.

Looking back on her career, Medina has had her share of unusual assignments, such as the time she and her ex-boss were hired to style hair for a photo shoot on a Manhattan rooftop in Alphabet City.

"The wind was blowing and I was trying to make every strand look natural. That was exciting and different," she reflected.

Medina also harkened back to the time when she had only three hours to work on eight frantic "bride-zillas" on the same day of the wedding.

In her spare moments, the selfemployed mother spends much of her time catering to her seven-year-old son, who is a big Yankee fan, as well as being a Thomas the Train enthusiast.

Medina credits the support of her tight-knit family—which includes her Columbian-born parents and brother—as a major reason why she's been able to make it this far.