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MERAKI Beauty Studio opens up for business in downtown St. James

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

Last week, MERAKI Beauty Studio held its grand opening, taking over in the South Side Salon building behind Collage St. James, with new owner Martha Esqueda.

Hair-styling has long been a passion of Esqueda's, even before knowing she wanted to get into the industry.

"I've always been interested in hair— even back when I was in high school," said Esqueda. "I would actually help friends get their hair set up for dance recitals, prom, or anything like. And I've always enjoyed getting my hair done."

Despite always having that interest, Esqueda never thought of opening her own business doing hair.

"I never anticipated having my own business, it just kind of happened out of nowhere."

Esqueda's first thought for a business was microblading— tattooing hair strokes of the eyebrows. She wanted to open up a place with her husband, who is a tattoo artist, with her husband doing body art, and her doing cosmetic art. She aimed to get an apprenticeship earlier this year for microblading, but due to COVID-19's impact, the course of her career changed.

Esqueda graduated from Minnesota West Community & Technical College five years ago, and always figured hair-styling could be done as a hobby. 

"As time went on, I figured this was something I should be doing."

After, Esqueda was hired at Grassroots, right down the road from her new location. While at Grassroots, she worked alongside longtime friend Carolina Campos.

At Grassroots, Esqueda was able to start marketing for herself, starting her own Facebook page and branch out.

From there, everything clicked for Esqueda.

"I had that 'a-ha' moment that people always talk about. I started to enjoy getting to know my clients."

Clients have called all the way from Mankato, to Moorhead, and to Texas.

Esqueda's Hispanic heritage makes being a small business owner that much more important to her.

"I'm really proud of the fact that I'm 100% bilingual and can cater to my people," said Esqueda. "It makes it easier. I really want to become an important part of the community because I want to see that Hispanics can make it. My Hispanic heritage is what makes me proud to be a business owner."

Keeping up with fashion trends is something that is a challenge to all those in the cosmetology and fashion industries, but something Esqueda loves to keep up with and expand on. Esqueda also likes to teach her clients about hair care and aftercare. 

"I want to help inspire more self-confidence."

The unique name for the studio is Greek, explained Esqueda.

"It's a modern Greek word, and I guess the true definition would be 'passion'" said Esqueda. "So as I was searching for a name for here I wanted it to stand out but also something that kind of described who I am as a person and as a stylist. In Greece, they use the word meraki for when you do something and leave a piece of your soul, a piece of your love, and a piece of your creativity in it."

MERAKI Beauty Studio is open from 12-8:00 p.m. on Mondays and from 12-6:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.