This is it! The I Did It season finale!
And there couldn’t be a better duo to send it off…
Their love story started more than three decades ago in Lorain, Ohio. Raphael Velasquez was a dashing young man, fresh out of the Marine Corps, spinning records as a deejay.
She was a beautiful young girl, barely out of high school, minding her own business at a record store. And that’s where they met. He says she chased him and just wouldn’t leave him alone until he asked her out. Judging by the look on her face when he relayed this story, I’d say HE did the chasing. And who could blame him? She is beautiful! But her outside beauty is just a reflection of her beautiful soul.
He knew he had a passion for making people happy and even entertaining them. So when the deejay business was slowing down, he decided to pack up and move to Columbus to attend barber school. He was so excited to make the move that he didn’t bother to secure housing and slept in his car for three days before school started. Rosemary followed him to Columbus and they’ve never looked back!
After completing barber school in a year, he decided it would be worthwhile to also attend cosmetology school at Ohio State School of Cosmetology so he could be a true hair expert! A salon apprenticeship followed and, soon after, he opened his first salon. Rafiel’s Salon and Spa offered a full line of hair services and also spa services. In 2001 he moved to his current location and renamed it rafiel’s studio. (Your eyes aren’t deceiving you – he tweaked the spelling when he named his salons)
Raphael credits Ohio State School of Cosmetology and his teachers for providing him with a great experience and a solid foundation. He felt prepared to go out into the world and make it beautiful. He soon realized that being a stylist, and certainly a salon owner, is lots of hard work. But it’s exciting, fun and rewarding. He loves the beauty industry because he knows that if you are passionate about it, you can have your own business and be very successful.
The key, he says, is that you have to be good with people. In his words “Just pack your bags and leave if you aren’t good with people.” You must have the passion, you must be positive, you must work hard. It’s not always easy. If you understand this – “you will find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!”
His passion led him to continue his education so that he could stay current by learning new methods, trends and products. He himself has become an educator and a platform artist at shows and classes throughout the United States.
Raphael takes education seriously and requires that every new stylist first complete a 9-month apprenticeship with him before they are eligible to become a stylist. After reaching the stylist level, employees can work their way up to the Senior Stylist level, and ultimately, the Master Stylist level. Raphael is strategic in hiring his new employees. He prefers hiring what he calls “fresh apples” – those cosmetologists who are straight out of beauty school. He wants to teach them from the ground up. Raphael believes – and he’s witnessed it – that if someone has a strong cosmetology education AND great customer service skills, then “The Sky is the limit!”
Skill is one thing but, personality is EVERYTHING!
And speaking of personality, Rosemary Velasquez has an abundance! When they first moved to Columbus, she worked at the Estee Lauder counter at Lazarus. She also became a model for Lazarus.
Rosemary then decided to shift careers. She knew she wanted to help people so she decided to become a paramedic. For ten years she worked on the squad, in the emergency room, and the coronary care unit. She also became a rape victim’s advocate. As gratifying as it was to help people, the work was very stressful. Rosemary was eager to continue to help others but in a different environment. At the time, Raphael was in need of an esthetician, so she decided to enroll in the esthetics program at Ohio State School of Cosmetology. She graduated with nearly perfect attendance and in early 1997 she put her schooling to good use at Rafiel’s Salon and Spa.
While there was no knock down, drag-out arguments when they worked together, it did prove to be a little difficult. They both realized that splitting up was probably a good move. Not their marriage, of course! That’s still going strong after 35 years. No, after a few years it was time to move Rosemary’s spa to a more zen environment. What people want in a hair salon (upbeat music, bright lights, happy chatter) isn’t what they want in a spa (tranquil music, soft lights, snoring . . . you know, when a facial is THAT good!)
And that is how “A Spirit’s Touch” was born 15+ years ago. And since it’s just across the street from Raphael, they still benefit from referring clients to one another.
A Spirit’s Touch Spa and Wellness Center is in a cozy, inviting, soothing space above the Cup O’ Joes in Clintonville. One step inside and you feel calm. Rosemary has done a wonderful job setting the scene for some serious relaxation and pampering. But it’s Rosemary that really creates the warmth. Just hearing her talk about her clients, you can almost feel the passion that she has for them. She even performs Reiki to enhance their service.
Perhaps it is her background of helping people in crisis, but she has a deep empathy for people. She knows that every person has a story, every person has their “thing” that they are going through right now. Maybe they have health issues, family problems or they are just having a bad day. She believes that the power of touch is very healing. She knows that her touch has the ability to transform them- not just on the surface, but inside of them.
Just being in her presence, you feel a little calmer – a little more “centered”. I don’t know if her career as an esthetician transformed her into this calming person, or if she always possessed that skill and realized that she would be very well suited for esthetics. Either way, her clients benefit from her skill, her touch and her heart. (I may have a girl crush on her . . . so-yeah-Raphael didn’t stand a chance in that record store!)
The common thread that weaves through Raphael and Rosemary’s journey is their passionate opinions about customer service and the role it plays in their success. Both agree that no matter the skill level that a beauty professional possesses, they must put customer service first. They both strive to offer their clients the best experience possible. Not just the best haircut, color or facial . . . the best EXPERIENCE.
They view their careers as a way to enhance someone’s beauty but also to enhance their life – to make their day special. They strive to go above and beyond their customer’s expectations every time. As Raphael says, “From the time they call to make an appointment to the minute they leave your salon, you’ve got to deliver . . . you get one chance.”
Rosemary points out that a good client relationship starts with trust. They don’t just share their skin care concerns with Rosemary, but they share their lives with her. She has built friendships with clients who were young college students when they first met and now they are bringing their own children in to see her!
You’ll find Raphael at rafiel’s studio, 2927 N. High Street and Rosemary across the street at 2988 N. High in the heart of the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus. On a side note- Clintonville is such a special place. Anyone visiting can feel the “vibe” and the people who live there exude it. Rosemary and Raphael are the perfect complements to this tight knit neighborhood.