Hair Yee, Hair Yee – School Starts Aug. 24. To Look Your Best, Visit “Little Kuts” Before The First Day of Class

August 7, 2009
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Maria with daughters, from left, Alicia, Jenna and Sophia.

Maria with daughters, from left, Alysha, Jena and Sofia.

At Little Kuts on Foothill Blvd. in La Verne, owner and hairdresser Maria Ortiz practices both the art of attraction and the art of distraction.

First, the art of attraction. After sitting in her chair — or one of five carousel-style character chairs in her salon – kids appear gorgeously groomed, the result of Maria’s years of experience perfectly plying her scissors and shears with peerless precision. For the first day of school, a birthday party, a photo sitting — when a child needs to look his or her absolute best — Little Kuts is the No. 1 choice of parents.

As for the art of distraction, kids, once they arrive, enter their own private wonderland filled with DVDs of their favorite Disney movies, Legos, Thomas the Tank toys, matchbox cars and special menagerie of cuddly animal characters they can play with. On her main east-facing wall is a bigger-than-life mural of a jungle teeming with friendly animals and exotic birds.

In the year that Little Kuts has been open, Maria has been successful because she speaks her tiny clients’ language. In fact, there’s probably no person living or working in La Verne more knowledgeable or up to date on her children’s movies than Maria. On Monday, one of the two days her shop is closed, Maria took her own two small children to see Disney’s G-Force, a new comedy adventure about guinea pigs who are secret government spies. Nemo, Shrek, Ratatouille, she knows the story lines and sound tracks to them all.

“To keep up with all the kids, I have to keep up on all of their favorite movies,” Maria said.

Being the mother of four children, Maria has that innate knowledge on how to keep children engaged while she carefully and tenderly snips, trims, cuts and styles the precious locks of her legion of young customers. Once in Maria’s hands, even the littlest patrons lose their timidity and shyness.

“She has a wonderful way with kids,” said parent Alex Moreno, whose son Julian was back for his fourth visit on what also happened to be his fourth birthday. On his very first visit, he sat in his father’s lap, but now he was a seasoned client loving every minute of his 15 minutes of pampered hair care.

Julian Moreno receives first-class treatment while celebrating his fourth birthday at Little Kuts.

Julian Moreno receives first-class treatment while celebrating his fourth birthday at Little Kuts.

Fifteen minutes seems to be the magic number for children getting their hair cut.

“If a little boy or girls sits for much longer than that, you start to lose them,” Maria said.

Maria has also turned into somewhat of a haircut repair specialist. Often mom or dad drags junior to their same hair cutting salon without thinking that children require special care and handling. “We specialize in children’s haircuts,” Maria said.

“There’s definitely an art to cutting children’s hair,” she added. “It takes a special person to be a children’s hairstylist. You need a lot of patience for one. It’s a lot of listening and understanding. You have to be sensitive to parents’ wants and needs, as well as the child’s.

“I have to make sure each child has a positive and fun experience.”

With mom’s or dad’s or approval, that could translate into a buzz cut, a spiky hair styling, a flat top, a Mohawk or even a Faux Hawk — a less severe or softer version of the Mohawk that you can comb to one side.

Often parents, seeing their children’s smiles, will also get their hair cut as well, in one of Maria’s adult haircutting stations. What’s good for the child is also good for the parent. All of a sudden, the kids are in no rush to leave as they plunge into a large box of toys or pretend they’re knights in shining armor or damsels in distress held prisoner in the dragon’s castle.

A longtime La Verne resident, Maria worked for seven years as a hairdresser in her brother Nick and sister-in-law Anna’s Little Kuts salon on South Lake in Pasadena, which has been a popular haircutting attraction for the last 17 years.

Tiring of commuting five days a week, and recognizing there was need for a similar children’s salon in La Verne, Maria started scouting locations in town.

“We struggled with finding the right location,” Maria said. “It took us about a year and a half to find this place and a good eight months to finance this whole venture.”

Little Kuts’ current location at 1147B used to house a bicycle business and more recently an insurance business. Once the lease was secured, the insurance cubicles started coming down.

Build-out went smoothly, Maria said. Maria also had the advantage of using her brother’s successful business for her model. “They knew where to get everything,” Maria said. “Their business experience was already there.”

Alicia, Maria and Sophia share a moment in front of some of Joanne Distaso's photographs on display at Little Kuts.

Alysha, Maria and Sofia share a moment in front of some of Joanne Distaso's photographs on display at Little Kuts.

It took three weeks for interior artist Suzanne O’ Shea to paint her jungle fantasy mural, but the biggest challenge in terms of time was locating the cozy carousel character chairs that children of all ages adore.

“When the original Little Kuts opened 17 years ago, there was a company that made them for about $500 each,” Maria said. “They went out of business, so we found some at antique swap meets and some were made by my father-in-law.”

The longer you stay at Little Kuts, the more you’ll discover. Little Kuts carries Circle of Friends hair products, a professional line for children of all ages. Also available for purchase is an assortment of affordable toys to buy as gifts or rewards. In addition, Little Kuts offers an assortment of headbands, hair clips, and hand-made hair bows, plus gift certificates.

Little Kuts features a monthly drawing as well, in which one lucky little customer whose name is pulled receives a cool toy basket. For every haircut, the customer receives another ticket to enter in the monthly drawing.

That’s not the only cool promotion, Little Kuts offers. Maria features the superb portrait photography of Joanne Distaso in her shop. Each month, one lucky customer whose name is drawn is featured as Little Kuts’ “Customer of the Month, entitling the winner to a free portrait sitting and free 8×10 glossy.

To spread the word about all of Little Kuts’ services, products and great promotions (reduced price hair cuts on Wacky Wednesdays is another example), Maria is a familiar and friendly face at schools, pre-schools, mom’s groups and other organizations that serve children. For the fifth grade promotion from Roynon, she donated free haircuts that were among the many awards and prices that students received.

Now Maria’s at it again. To celebrate the one-year anniversary of her salon’s opening, Little Kuts is offering $12 haircuts on September 26, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On this special day, Little Kuts will also feature free balloons and face painting.

There’s no need to wait that long, however, to treat your child to a fun outing at Little Kuts. Drop in or call for an appointment today. Also see the Little Kuts coupon offers in the coupon section of LaVerneOnline (coupon button on the front page will take you to the Little Kuts offers).

“One of the best ways to get your child excited about school is to give them a stylish back-to-school haircut,” Maria said. “It works every time. A haircut adds to their sense of wonderment and anticipation that the school year is about to start up, and that they’re about to embark on a wonderful new journey of meeting new friends and learning new things.”

1147B Foothill Blvd., La Verne, CA 91750 | Phone 909-593-2002

Some pictures are worth a second and third look!

Some pictures are worth a second and third look!




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