Single mom manages hair salon, inspires clients

Becoming an instant single mother to three children after her sister died from a rare cancer didn’t stop a 109 hairstylist from managing her salon.

Irene Mendoza’s sister, Emberly Enriquez, died from a rare pediatric cancer five years ago, giving Mendoza custody of her three daughters. Mendoza first began caring for one-year-old Teresa, four-year-old Cameron and newborn Cassidy, only two days old at the time, while her sister was in chemotherapy.

“I went from having a dog as my big responsibility to feeding three kids,” said Mendoza, who became the girls’ legal guardian.

Mendoza had looked after the three girls during her sister’s chemotherapy for a year-and-a-half which allowed a smooth transition to parenthood.

“My [salon] clients have all been supportive of the transition,” she said.

One of Mendoza’s clients, Peggy Johnson, described Mendoza as a good friend and prayer warrior.

La Terre Salon, which Mendoza opened in 2002, began in a small office suite on Hulen Street and later moved to its current location at 3027 Cockrell Avenue.

“My clients were the best, and it’s amazing how clients and students would hang with my kids,” she said.

Despite the struggle of juggling children and business, Mendoza said she is happy with her situation.

“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she said. “Everything is just what it’s supposed to be.”

Mendoza runs the salon with Jessica Gomez, 21, a family friend who started helping around the salon at the age of 12 as punishment.

“She really taught me a lot,” said Gomez who is acquainted with many of the salon’s clients.

Mendoza said the salon allows her to share her story and inspire others.

“You share a little bit about yourself and people realize they’re not the only one,” she said.

TCU students have gone to other salons and been treated differently, Mendoza said, but she believes everyone should get the same service.

 “She’s continually familiar with her customers,” said former TCU student Mari Sweeney, “and makes sure they all leave with a smile on their face.”

For more information about La Terre Salon visit their Facebook page at http://La Terre Salon.