Andrea DeJesus remembers her first haircut as a traumatic experience.
When her mother’s hairdresser cut her long locks up to her chin, a 9-year-old DeJesus cried for days. She drew happy faces with long hair and sad faces with short hair.
Ever since, she has wanted to be a hairdresser, and now, DeJesus owns A-List Salon in South Bethlehem.
“I vow never to make anyone cry,” DeJesus said.
DeJesus opened A-List Salon in 2013 and uses her central location on Fourth Street to actively engage with the South Side community.
Ruben Gomez has been a hairstylist and makeup artist at A-List Salon for three months and said it’s “a dream come true.”
“(Andrea) gave me full range of my potential,” Gomez said. “She doesn’t restrict me to one thing. She likes me to explore what I’m good at.”
DeJesus said having her own salon has always been the end goal. Before going to beauty school, she earned a degree in business. After completing 1,250 hours at beauty school, which included styling techniques, chemistry and trichology, among other technical things, DeJesus practiced her trade for four years before opening A-List Salon.
“I wanted to develop a salon that portrayed my vision of, ‘Everybody should feel beautiful,’” DeJesus said.
DeJesus grew up in South Bethlehem and built her clientele in the area as well. When she first started on her career path, this was the first place she looked for a job — she knew this was where she wanted to be.
After six months of working at Holiday Hair, which used to be a few blocks from where A-List Salon is now, DeJesus was promoted to manager and remained in that position for two years.
“I knew I wanted to work around here because I knew a lot of people from around here,” DeJesus said.
As a child, DeJesus belonged to a local Boys and Girls Club where she played foosball and built mat fortresses. She remembers going to Campus Pizza, getting a slice of pizza and eating it while walking home.
DeJesus went to Liberty High School in North Bethlehem. A lot of people she went to school with still live in the area and have children who go to the same schools she went to as a kid, and now, DeJesus is raising her high school-aged daughter in Bethlehem, too.
“It just means a lot to me growing up here,” DeJesus said. “I loved growing up here, so whatever I can do to make it a positive experience for anyone else who lives here, I just really like that.”
On top of the 60 hours per week she works at the salon, DeJesus serves on a promotions committee for South Bethlehem, which keeps all of the businesses involved in what is going on around the South Side.
DeJesus also sponsors Urban Varieties, a clothing store on Fourth Street. The store puts on a fashion show at the Steel Stacks, and DeJesus helps organize the event and does hair for all the models.
Marion Foster, a close friend of DeJesus, promotes and puts together comedy shows to raise money for children with autism, which DeJesus is also involved in.
As part of South Bethlehem, DeJesus interacts with Lehigh frequently as well. She sets up a table at the club fair every fall and does hair for date parties, formals and graduation.
She said it’s always sad when her clients graduate.
Mike Sullivan, ’19, first met DeJesus at this year’s club fair and stopped by the salon for a haircut. He said her prices were much more reasonable than other places in the area and she was “very conversation-oriented and made me feel welcomed.
“I get in a zone when I’m cutting, coloring and just kind of chatting with my clients,” DeJesus said. “You just learn so much about people from all walks of life and I absolutely love hearing stories.”