I’m going to be an engineer when I grow up, so I practice building things everyday in my afterschool program. When my friends need something made out of paper, they come to me because I’m creative and so fast.
When I came to New York, I had $60 in my pocket and three suitcases to my name. I slept on the toilet at Port Authority with my feet up so no one would see me. After a few weeks, I found a job as a factory seamstress in Brooklyn.
I’ve been creating art ever since I was a child. I spent years under my mother’s piano sketching my father and reading music books. Growing up in my country, art wasn’t considered a necessity, so when it came time for college, my mother pushed me to become a doctor.
When I first started cutting hair, I was averaging about 80 customers a day from my house in Woodside. Back then I was a household name. Everyone was talking about the Filipino kid that opened up a shop at his mom’s basement.
As an architect, I used to design projects in my country, Dominican Republic. I never considered moving to the United States, but one day, I was robbed at gunpoint in my house. Nothing was the same after that. This, and other details, led me to travel all over the US.
I am the primary caregiver for my mom, who has short-term dementia and my brother, who has vision trouble and can’t care for himself. Caring for everyone is in my nature. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but my family needs me.