Hispanic Entrepreneurs: Creating Smooth Hair Led to Business Success

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Mohamed Hassan

NEW YORK, NY- There is a saying that the greatest bond is the bond between a mother and her daughter. That bond is what inspired Nadine Ramos to create and become the CEO of her own hair care company, LASIO Professional Haircare.

“Growing up on the Lower East Side in the projects, I saw the struggles of a real woman, a woman who didn’t have much but loved to give, she said of her mother. “When I lost her, it really shook my world, and I knew I had to do something to make her proud.”

Ramos was born in New York City and is of Puerto Rican descent. She named her company, ‘Lasio’ from the Spanish word "lacio" which means straight hair, a way of embedding her culture into the business.

Ramos tells NBC her business success journey started after meeting a Brazilian man who had been giving Keratin hair-straightening treatments that were still not popular at the time. Impressed with its results, Ramos decided to work toward turning this kind of treatment into a thriving company, despite the realities of a competitive market.

Ramos signed up for cosmetology school to understand the work that goes into hair care and the use of products. She borrowed money from family and friends to go to Brazil and brought back Keratin products to experiment and reformulate. Working closely with a chemist for two years and taking out small loans, Ramos developed her first keratin treatment that hit the US market in 2006 and pioneered a keratin education platform that is used today by many hair care brands.

In its first year, LASIO generated a million dollars. Now Ramos’s company owns two salons, the Keratin Lounge in midtown Manhattan and the company's headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. Her company manufactures four Keratin treatments as well as a line of shampoos, conditioners, styling products and other hair treatments which are distributed in the US, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, Israel, Kuwait, India, France, Greece, and Switzerland. Fifteen years later, LASIO is now a $7 million dollar company.

LASIO’s CEO is proud of her close relationship with the company's employees and her mission to expand opportunities for growth - even among those that others would write off.

“There was a young Latino who had a really hard upbringing and made bad choices and had been incarcerated; when he came out I welcomed him with open arms and he’s been with me with seven years,” she said. “I feel that’s life changing, giving other people a chance when most people wouldn’t.”

Ramos is a new mom; her 6-month-old son keeps her busy as she runs the day-to-day business operations, such as meeting new distributors and making visits to her salons. Ramos admits it’s not an easy setup.

“Being a mom and CEO is the biggest challenge and the biggest blessing at the same time," said Ramos. "Growing up in a house filled with love and cariño (affection) I give that to my child as well,” she reflected. “I’m finding the balance and it’s an everyday work in progress.”

When asked what is the key to creating and maintaining a successful business, Ramos has one word.

“Passion drives success. I’m a strong believer in that. If you don’t have that, I don’t think you’ll be set apart in the business world.”

Follow NBC News Latino on Facebook and Twitter