Higüey City’s Electric Power Inconsistency Affects Kenia’s Beauty Center
Higüey, La Altagracia, Dominican Republic – Kenia Guerrero Rijo is a hairstylist who currently resides in Los Rosales. She was one of the first beauticians in the area to open up a hair salon and has been in the same premises since 2006.
Kenia’s Beauty Center is located in the corner of Los Rosales neighborhood and just a few blocks away from Rijo’s home. Kenia sees about 5-20 clients daily, depending on the day. Her first priority is her clientele’s satisfaction. Although the area’s unpredictable electric power outages have been limiting the amount of time and people she can service, they could never affect her work ethic. Rijo does everything in her power to make sure women leave her business feeling beautiful, despite the inconveniences. The blackouts have been a major set back, but she persistently finds a way to get her job done, daily.
Rijo grew up in Azafrán, Higüey, La Altagracia, an area located in the rural outskirts of Higüey City. She remembers loving cosmetics and doing her neighbors’ hair when she was just a toddler, “I have always been fond of what is called beauty,” she said. Her beauty center is decorated with her many cosmetology diplomas that indicate her completion of hair dying and cutting courses. Rijo’s love for what she does is plastered all over the walls of her workspace and her passion is recognized in her impressive skills.
The 45-year old mother of two and grandmother of one relies on her beauty center as her only source of income. She makes 8,000 DOP (150 USD) on a good day and up to 15,000 DOP (275 USD) on a great day, but she can lose up to half of those earnings due to the constant power outages.
“The power goes out, and I still have three clients who need their hair blow-dryed and a few more who need their rollers dryed… now I can’t do it. I have to wait and see if by God’s mercy the power comes back on immediately. If it doesn’t, I have a plan B,” said Rijo.
Her plan B is to go next door to D’ Ruby’s hair salon and finish up her clients there. “I like to keep a good relationship with my colleagues. Whenever I need it, Antonia, next door, lends me some space. When she needs it, I am here for her too. Sometimes the power goes out for an entire day, sometimes for two hours,” she said.
Rijo confirms that this has been a year-long issue for as long as she can remember.
“There are some parts of the year that are better than others,” she said, “when the people go out to protest about the electricity issues, the power is more consistent but that doesn’t last long, as it goes back to being unpredictable only days after.” She recounted that she noticed the issue is especially bad as the Dominican Republic’s election season approaches. Although nobody knows the direct cause of these inconsistencies, many suspect that it is due to politicians’ “poor political position management.”
“Sometimes I feel uncomfortable, but we have had to get used to it,” said Rijo.
The worst repercussion about this problem is that some clients get annoyed and don’t come back to Kenia’s Beauty Center.
“They’re here one week, and the power goes out, then they come back and it goes out again,” said Kenia. She hates to see them go, but this is something that is out of her control.
An immediate resolution would be to purchase a power generator, which can cost up to about 50, 000 DOP (900 USD). These generators are popular in Dominican homes and businesses as they keep the lights on even after the electric power goes out. Kenia is hesitant to purchase one because the space of her salon is too small, and she does not have a convenient spot to store the generator in.
Despite these setbacks and occasional loss of clientele, Kenia Guerrero Rijo continues to operate her business to the best of her ability. She adjusts to the adversities and always makes sure to put her customers first in spite of the circumstances.
Rachell Soler | Latin American Correspondent
Rachell Soler is a Dominican journalist and creative who is passionate about culture, music, art and food-tasting. She enjoys learning people’s stories and encouraging those in her community to embrace their upbringings. Soler is a Southwest Houston, Texas product and hopes to enlighten the world with her writing. Her stories are meant to reveal what is often lost in the background and tell inspiring stories that are usually left untold. She is a singer-songwriter in her free time, as she maintains a multifaceted lifestyle while she finishes her studies at University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.