MARCO ISLAND — One of Marco Island's best-known hair care artists is making a major career move.
Maria Elena Pujol is closing her hair design salon to take her hard work and talent to join the other experts at the Coiffures International Hair Salon at 651 South Collier Boulevard. She'll be there by November first."All previously made appointments will not be affected at all," Maria Elena says. So your (and our) heads are safe in Maria Elena's capable hands, just at a different venue.
She is excited about this career change, albeit with mixed feelings of leaving the location where she made her tonsorial magic for 20 years.
"I've had many fine people come to my salon over the years and many returning year after year. Some make appointments months in advance. I'm so grateful for their loyalty and am thrilled to know they'll stay with me in the new location."
One of those loyal clients is Huguette Nachef, who has been going to Maria Elena since 1998. We asked whether she's following Maria Elena to Coiffures International: "Of course, absolutely," Huguette says. "I told her I'd even follow her to Miami if she ever moves there. She makes us look good and is so pleasant to be around."
Island businesswoman Kim Escarra agrees. "I'll follow her to her new location for sure. She's the best. I've known her for a long, long time. She's a wonderful person and a great hairdresser. She knows what's good for people and she's all about making us feel good about ourselves.
"Her salon always was a fun atmosphere because that's her personality. I assume it will be the same at Coiffures International because that's who she is. She'll be able do what she enjoys. She's moving forward in her life and it's a natural step, to be able to enjoy what she does best."
Maria Elena worked with Coiffures International owner Theresa Vecchio before starting her own salon 20 years ago. Now Theresa and her co-owner and daughter, Karen Vecchio, are welcoming Maria Elena, "with open arms. It's going to be a great collaboration," Karen says.
"She's passionate about her work and she will be able to continue doing what she does so well."
We asked Maria Elena why she is making the move: "I love what I do and want to focus even more on my individual clients and less on the business side, the accounting, the scheduling, working with sales people and all that.
"It's all important, but now, at Coiffures International, I'll be able to concentrate on clients and their hair. And that prospect is exciting to me."
We also asked Maria Elena who was the most best-known person she's ever had in her chair.
"I cut (golfer and TV sports broadcaster) Ken Venturi's hair for years, so he asked one day whether I'd do him a favor and give a quick haircut to a friend visiting from out of town.
"When the 'friend' walked in and smiled, my knees almost buckled. All I could do was smile when he put out his hand and said, 'Hi, I'm Frank Sinatra.'
"I was shaking as he sat down and said he just needed a trim. I went to work, snipping the hair around his ears and shaping the back. When he found out I was from Cuba, we talked about that. He had friends there, loved going there and hoped to go back one day.
"He only needed a trim and didn't have a lot of hair, but it probably was the longest haircut I'd ever done in my life.
"At one point he asked whether I would go to work for him, going on the road to cut his hair during concert tours and all that.
"I was floored and flattered, but told him that I had a baby girl at home and obviously couldn't leave home.
"When I finished his hair, he said he was sorry I couldn't join him, then handed me a $50 bill, smiled and left. That was the most money I ever got for trimming a man's hair.
"I've cut other celebrities since then, including Kenny Rogers, David Bowie, Christy Brinkley and others, but never thought I'd cut the hair of Old Blue Eyes."
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail email@example.com. Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.