Confidence and Style Fuel this Shop


By Joaquin Ramirez, Hola Iowa

Nancy Avila is breaking through the barriers of a predominantly male industry with her superior scissor skills. This Latina barber navigates the realm of razors and fades while reshaping perceptions, defying stereotypes, and encouraging a new generation of barbers to embrace diversity and inclusivity. One Love Barbershop’s business exudes modern vibes, enticing a diverse clientele to an environment where they can regain confidence from a fresh new cut.

It all started with broken dreams and misdeeds. “I was getting in trouble, in and out of jail, and I needed to keep myself busy and off the streets,” shares Avila. She decided to enroll at the Iowa School of Beauty to earn her cosmetology license, as encouraged by many friends who had experienced a taste of her self-taught hairstyling skills. After graduation, her bilingual skills secured her a spot with Great Clips Salon. She quickly developed a loyal following of Latino men who appreciated her trusted skills and comforting demeanor. “I didn’t know how to fade, but they would encourage me to try,” recalls Avila. “Tu dale! No tengas miedo; don’t be scared,” they said as they requested barber-style cuts, always leaving the salon satisfied. 


After recognizing her potential, she attended barber school to sharpen her skills. Upon completion, she was eager to start her new journey but was rejected by many barbershops. “I got told many no’s simply because I’m a woman,” she says of the struggles of being a female in a male-prevalent industry. Despite landing an opportunity in Des Moines, clients doubted her abilities. “I’ve never had a girl cut my hair. Do you even know how to cut?” they would ask. 

Photo by Jennifer Marquez

The umbrage only fed the desire to chase her dreams and achieve greatness. Avila dreamt of opening her own barbershop but knew she didn’t want to do it alone. In January 2023, she opened One Love Barbershop in Marshalltown, with a team that shares her values of caring, giving back to the community, and being role models for younger generations. One Love Barbershop is dedicated to giving back. One of their initiatives is to provide free haircuts to children before school. However, she has a grand vision for her business beyond being a regular barbershop. She wants to create a safe and welcoming environment for teenagers to hang out and seek guidance from positive role models during challenging times. Avila aims to start group sessions in the future. “I want to help teenagers, be a role model, and be involved. Help them feel comfortable and ensure that they feel the positive energy as they walk in.” 

Inspiring Latinas who have harbored dreams suppressed by a lack of support and motivation is Avila’s primary goal. “Sometimes you have to be the movement to keep others inspired,” she emphasizes. Countless aspiring Latinas have sought her counsel on embarking on their barbering journey or pursuing dreams of entrepreneurship. “You have to do it,” she asserts. “Sin miedo al éxito,” adds Avila. “You may fail once or twice, but you must take the Ls. Life is a game; if you want to win, you must play it.”


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