Sometimes the path to professional expertise is paved through personal experience. And that would certainly be the case with Linda Velazquez.
Velazquez is the owner of Branford's .
The business, which sits just on East Main Street, serves a growing customer base from throughout the shoreline area.
And Velazquez came to her career through her own battles with unwanted facial hair.
"I have hair on my full upper lip. And I used to have to wax it up to three times a week," the North Branford native said, adding the process was timely, painful — and just plain annoying.
But then a friend, who had the same issue, told her she had another way to manage unwanted hair.
"She said that she had had electrolysis," Velazquez said.
After having a few sessions herself and seeing the results, she quickly threw away her jars of wax and tape.
"And I thought: 'Now, this might be something I'd like to do myself,'" Velazquez said.
Eventually, after taking some time to research what would be necessary to practice in the field, she decided to enroll in a program that would fufill the required course work she would need for certification.
The closest school to East Haven offering those classes, however, was in Massachussettes. Undaunted, she plugged forward in the program: driving five hours roundtrip for a six-hour class twice a week.
"It took me two years, but I did it," she said.
'Out On My Own'
After graduating and receiving her certification in 2005, Velazquez worked for other people at their clinics.
"But after a while, I decided it was time to go out on my own," she said. "I was spinning my wheels and just not getting ahead."
Going on her own, however, meant Velazquez also went out there alone: with no existing client base, as they remained with her then-employer.
"So when I started, I started with nobody," she said of the big move to open her own small business five years ago.
"The few people who started with me, they are what really kept be going then," Velazquez said.
A Growing Clientele
But it didn't take very long. Slowly but surely, her client list grew — mostly through happy and satisfied customers who passed along their recommendations to family and friends.
"Most of it was word of mouth," she said. "And still is."
The only problem with elecrolysis for the professional, is that if you do your job right, you are always losing customers, because they no longer require your services.
Velazquez said "electrolysis is permanent hair removal, unlike laser or other methodsof hair reduction."
"So, your clients either don't need to see you that often or not at all," Velazquez said.
This means that just creating a robust client base isn't enough. You must also continually be adding new ones to the list.
"But I'm doing good," she said with a smile.
Taking the Lead
Owning and operating her own successful business, however, wasn't enough. She also decided to take a leadership role as a professional.
Velazquez recently was named to the executive board of the Connecticut State Electrolysis Association.
According to Velazquez, the board's current focus is to raise awareness and educate others about electrolysis: what it is, how it can help those who have unwanted hair — and how it differs from laser hair removal and other methods.
"We need to inform the general public," Velazquez said.
In the meantime, the East Haven resident will be carefully, compassionately and discreetly working to create another client who no longer needs her services.
"In electrolysis, I treat every hair individually," Velazquez said. "And each person is an invidual, who has their own individual concerns."