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Exploring Life & Business with Olivia Padilla of Viva Salon and Viva Esthetic Studio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Olivia Padilla.

Hi Olivia, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I went to beauty school when I was 28 years old. My original plan for beauty school was during my last year of High School, but I made an immature decision to not to miss my senior year of High School so I could be a big part of senior activities. Even though I received all my credits to graduate early so I could attend beauty school free. I later went to community college. I found out after 1.5 years of college, I was expecting my 1st child. I decided to quit and continue working at a bank and get married. During marriage, I had a second child. After going though economic hardships and a blended family situation growing up, I was bound and determined to keep my small family together. Divorce was not an option. I did home daycare to be with my children but still felt the regret of no formal degree under my belt. So when both my sons were in school full time, I later decided I needed to go back to school. The beauty school road seemed to be the most logical option as I was actually pretty natural at doing hair. Once I arrived at beauty school, I immediately realized it required much more than natural talent at styling hair. I actually needed to study. I studied  anatomy, biology, chemistry, medical terms, electricity and so on! With that being my second chance at an education, I was determined to be a straight A student. I needed to prove who I was to myself and my children. I would not settle for anything less than 95% to 100% on any test. If I received a 93% on a test, I would retake it for a better grade.  I was nicknamed by my peers “School Girl”. Never did I imagine to coin that term as I once was a social butterfly in high school.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
After graduating, I later discovered life was not fair. The Lord giveth and he taketh away. I found myself getting a divorce with no clientele at a new job and so much uncertainty. Never did I imagine being a single mom. I worked in Westminster Mall for many years on a commission-based salary. Working on commission,  my checks were very small. Looking back, I don’t know how my sons and I survived those years. I decided I should get a part-time job to ensure I made ends meet. So, I  took a position as a hairstylist at a facility for adults with brain injury, mental illness, ptsd, and other comorbidities. I quickly realized those particular people saved me in more ways than one. It helped financially but also made me realize that hard times fell much harder on others than I ever realized. I was often times reminded my health, my support system, my family, my ability to control my life was much more fortunate than many others who lived in that community. I worked a part-time job aside from a regular salon for 15 years. Although that situation gave me encouragement to keep on keeping on, I’ve also been a caretaker for my mom for about 22 years. She developed a number of health issues in her early 40s.

Some of my inspiration came from knowing that she was once a vibrant, intelligent, skilled, intellectual woman who multitasked with six children. And my father being from Mexico with no more than a 6th-grade education and a hard work ethic, I had the ability to keep moving forward. It was instilled in me to be honest, overcome obstacles, work hard, and provide. I wanted nothing more than to see my two sons go through college and never experience some of the stress of low income my parents and myself experienced. I can say proudly that both sons ended up finishing college at CU Boulder. My older son Andrew received a full-ride scholarship being awarded with the Daniel’s Fund and a Bio-chemistry degree. While my younger son Tony has 2 degrees in Anthropology and E-Bio. The relief a parent like me feels that they will never feel the disappointment or regret I felt, but mostly they have so many more options for success. The footprints from my grandparents and parents truly guided them! What a blessing. Hard times later fell again with several members of my immediate family passing away.

My ex-father-in-law, my ex-mother-in-law (my sons grandparents), my sister, my sister-in-law, and 2 nephews all passed away unexpectedly within a small time frame. It’s an unexplainable feeling of loss to lose so many in one’s tribe and tragically no less. Then adding the Covid Pandemic and losing 40 family and friends to that just led to what I call “The Great Sadness” of my life. The only thing that literally helped me get through any of it has been my faith, some close friends and my loyal clientele. Listening to the stories of what my clients have gone through over the years, to include their listening ears of my life has truly been heaven-sent and therapeutic.  During this time it seemed as though work was all I had or had control over.  I decided to to extend my cosmetology education and get certified in permanent makeup. That also became life-changing as I met more people with health conditions such as cancer, alopecia, trichotillomania and other health conditions that affected their quality of life. Again, that in itself encouraged me to do the best I could do with my Cosmetology license. I have the ability to not only enhance a person’s beauty but to make them feel “normal ” again. I get to hear their story, laugh or cry with them every single day.

As of today, I am a hairstylist, a permanent makeup artist, a fibroblast technician, I own two studios and hope to eventually become an instructor and continue to level up not only for myself but for people like myself who haven’t had the easiest life. My Dad’s favorite quotes are “the key to life to is to fall down 7 times but get up 8 times and “It’s better to die standing on your feet than to live on your knees”. That is very instilled in my heart and mind.

As you know, we’re big fans of Viva Salon LLC and Viva Esthetic Studio. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
I have been a hairstylist for 22 years (full services), a Permanent Makeup artist for 6 years (microblade, eyeliner, lips), and Fibroblast Technician for 1 year. I own 2 studios and plan on future business endeavors. I am most proud of being self-made but my faith keeps me encouraged always.  I chose the name Viva because it means long live in spanish. My logo is a tree with a circle around it. Trees live long, they are rooted and wise. The circle around it is for Olivia. I hope to instill roots as my ancestors did.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
Honesty, hardworking, a multitasker, and fair. Along with being a perfectionist.


  • Color and cut $65-95
  • Hilighlights and cut $95 to $150
  • Microblade $400 – plus a free retouch Microshade or Powdered brows $450
  • Eyeliner top or bottom $150, both $250 and lipblush $150 a session
  • Fibroblast – Introductory special $200 an area

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