Who Am I? Let me re-introduce myself....
My name is Krista Nerestant and I am the proprietor of Salon Crimson LLC. I opened my first salon at 25 years old, Salon Evanella (named after my mama and grandma), it evolved into Salon Crimson and its doors remain open 12 years later. I have since expanded my entrepreneurial ventures into investing in restaurants—Ani Ramen NJ, along with involvement in non-profit organizations (FSL SAVES) a NJ state funded center dedicated to children and women survivors of sexual/domestic violence and Latina Surge whose mission is to support women of color. Currently, my recent venture is Self-ish Lifestyle, where I serve as an NLP Life Coach, Hypnotist & Spiritual Teacher keeps me busy demystifying the world of energy and spirit. My next adventure will be launching my book called The Hidden Gifts of Trauma along with property investing.
I grew up working in various family businesses in the Philippines. I started working at the age of eight, pumping gas at the family gas station, and packing up baked goods at the bakery and delivering them across the island to the local stores. I also had to put away medicine and be the cashier at my mother’s pharmacy. My mom operated thriving businesses, but unfortunately my father wasted it all away...
My father was an alcoholic, compulsive gambler, and he physically, mentally, and verbally abused my mother. He continued his atrocious ways with us children when our mother left to escape him, and financial destitution in 1989. I was seven, my brother John was eight and my little sister Toni was six. There was also our two little brothers: PJ who was two and baby Rex who was one. It wasn’t until a year later, under our father’s household that we were taken away by our uncle, our mother’s brother. Three years later, in may of 1993, in the middle of the night, my siblings and I were all secretly taken on a ship heading to Manila, under the guise of a surprise vacation with ready packed suitcases and documents. When the ship docked 24 hours later, we were greeted by our mother who we hadn’t seen for over four years. No time to adjust however, because within a week we were all in a 727 aircraft heading to America.
I was 11 years old when we arrived in the US. We joined my mother who left for the USA four years prior in 1989 with the sole purpose of escaping my abusive father who bankrupted her.
The most difficult thing to adjust to was the societal difference. Sixth grade was the grade I registered in when school started. In the Philippines, after 5th grade, you went straight to high school and begin college at the age of sixteen years old.
There wasn’t really a language barrier since we were taught English in school. However the Newark NJ American slang was difficult at first. In the Philippines and almost all of Asia, we are taught the British English way of speaking. I had to adapt quickly to my surroundings. It wasn’t just with the societal aspect that required adapting but all the cultural differences. America was indeed the land of the free for me and I didn’t know how to handle the privileged mentality of kids my age. However I embraced it all and have grown into a better human being for it.
Having the ability to retain the good traditions of my Filipino culture which strengthened me (e.g. work ethics) while ridding the ones that deemed me as a subservient (e.g. being a female who belonged in the kitchen and had to just “look pretty”) was key to my success. My new home essentially provided me with a way out beyond the stronghold of a culture that deemed me the weaker sex.
The entrepreneurial mindset and spirit was instilled in me at an early age. I remember in seventh grade I was charging my schoolmates to provide personalized special occasion cards and poetry or drawings. I was always looking to monetize a talent. Being idle wasn’t something I was accustomed to. Throughout my high school years, I spent my free time at the guidance counselor’s office looking for jobs opened to students at various businesses to occupy my summers and after school programs. Yes, I got paid to go to school. If I had to do it, might as well make money for it. My fondest memory was the summer I worked at a cerebral palsy center. They got tired of me asking for more work that they finally gave me a payroll position that occupied my hours uninterrupted.
I officially made the decision to become an entrepreneur at the age of seventeen. The need to change my current circumstance and the ability to create the future I envisioned was too strong for me not to take action. My mother had passed away three years prior, when I was fourteen years old and I promised her on her deathbed that I would take on her role as the provider for my siblings.
In my sophomore year of high school, I had an “accidental” opportunity to become a licensed cosmetologist by graduation. When I say accidental, it’s because I initially thought it was cosmology. I walked into the elective class prepared to spend 3 hours in a planetarium studying the planets, stars, and cosmos. Instead, I was greeted by a wall of floating mannequin heads. I had to participate in the elective until it could be rectified. But I excelled and was referred by my teachers to past students who now had their businesses. I began working and made enough money to support myself which enticed me to stay in this field. This was how I was going to fulfill my promise of becoming my baby brothers caretaker.
I moved out my senior year of high school at 18 years old from underneath my Auntie’s Vicky’s turbulent household of dysfunction. She became our reluctant guardian after my mom passed away, when a Newark family court judge informed her that if she didn’t take us in, we would all be separated in the foster care system. Two years under her roof, my sister chose to runaway and live in group homes. My brother left to live with his girlfriend. I stayed to look after my baby brothers but I finally realized, I had to move out to start learning how to be on my own to eventually take full custody of them. I only moved a mile away and I supported them with whatever they needed outside of shelter and food they were receiving from my aunt. Monetary needs for extracurricular activities, clothes, trips, conversations, etc. I made sure they had access to a better life than I had. Kean University accepted me through the Equal Opportunity Schools Program but I decided to forgo college altogether to work tirelessly, gain knowledge of the industry, and master the craft of working with an affluent clientele. At 22 years old, I took full custody of my baby brothers and kept my commitment to opening my business at 25 years old.
I worked and managed a salon for 8 years under the assumption that I would eventually be made partner. When I realized that it was going to happen I quit and 6 months later implored my Auntie Maria to provide me with a $60,000 dollar loan to begin my dream of being my own boss. She was the financier of the family. My credit with her, not only financially, but in morality, ethics and family responsibility proved to her that I can be trusted with a long-term loan. We wrote out a contract that I would pay off the entire loan amount within three years with low interest.
In the process of opening my first business, the most difficult thing that I had to face was being sued by my previous employer for a breach of non-compete. I had to deal with that before my salon could open its doors.