Eight years ago, Beli Andaluz uprooted her life in Antigua, Guatemala, to bet on Las Vegas.
After cashing in on her hometown success, she and her then-8-year-old son followed her sister to Sin City with dreams of bringing her hairdressing talents to the United States.
“I gambled everything I had,” she said.
There was no guarantee that Andaluz would again reach the peaks she did in her hometown as the owner of several fruitful businesses. But, noting the small size of Antigua — the volcano-surrounded town in the south of Guatemala where she is from — Andaluz said she had exhausted her options to grow as a businesswoman there.
Now, she owns a Summerlin salon and serves as president of the board of trustees for The Shade Tree women’s and children’s shelter.
“I saw the salon when I came to visit my sister,” she said. “I thought, one day when I move here, I want to buy it.” The year after her move, she went into the salon, called Vintage at the time, and did just that.
It has become everything she had hoped it would be, Andaluz said of the salon, which now bares her name.
“We just rebranded,” she said, and she has a hand-picked staff of four.
Not long after relocating to Las Vegas, she wanted to become more integrated into the community, and she did so by donating her time and money to The Shade Tree after touring the facility.
“It was very surprising to me,” she said. “I come from a very poor background, and I seen poverty, but not as sad as this shelter.”
Images of her visits, like driving up and seeing the women and children outside, remained in her memory.
“I guess they noticed that I wanted to help,” she says.
At an annual event for The Shade Tree in 2014, “Girls Night Out,” Andaluz was approached to join the board of the charity. She accepted the offer and has enjoyed it ever since, she says. “I have the time to do it, I have the money now to do it, and we are keeping 364 women and kids out of the streets everyday. We are doing something good.” she said.
One year after joining The Shade Tree, Andaluz became the vice president of the board, and at the beginning of this year, she took over as president.
“My clients come to the salon, pay for their service, they leave a tip, and they leave a check for the shelter.”
Andaluz says she spreads the word about the shelter, because it’s not uncommon for her clients to be unfamiliar with it.
“It’s a way for me to help,” she said, her glowing smile appearing from behind her bright pink lips. “Las Vegas has been so good to me.”
Review-Journal: Why did you move to Las Vegas?
Andaluz: “I worked really hard in Guatemala, and I owned a spa, salon, internet cafe,” she said. “And, I just felt like, ‘What else can I do here?’ ” Her sister had lived in Las Vegas for 25 years, buying and selling properties in downtown, proving to Andaluz that there was a chance to make her own way here, too.
RJ: What was it like to move here from a foreign country?
Andaluz: “It was not scary,” she said. “I lived in Antigua, and I’m used to working with tourists.” Seventy-percent of the businesses in her hometown are owned by tourists, she says. “So, I was very lucky to have my own business and to grow, but I think I just wanted more.”
RJ: How did you become involved with The Shade Tree?
Andaluz: “My husband is a big giver,” said Andaluz, who’s married to marketing research mogul Scott Seidewitz. He prompted her to get involved in the community by allocating spare time and money to a local charity. She started by donating a few months’ profits to the shelter.
RJ: You love fashion, where do you like to shop in Las Vegas?
Andaluz: “My husband and I are very smart when we shop, and we shop a lot of the sales,” she said. “This is our sixth year that we have our shopping spree on the 27th of December. The boutiques (inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace) know that we are going, and they have Champagne, they have everything for us. I get to shop Carolina Herrera, Jimmy Choo … you name it.”
RJ: Where do you like to eat in Las Vegas?
Andaluz: “We love food, too, and we love to eat at all the restaurants,” she said. “A lot of chefs in town are my clients at the salon.” Her favorites are Picasso at the Bellagio and Joel Robuchon at MGM. “They are expensive, but if you like food and you like the experience, that’s where to go.”
Contact Kimberly De La Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5244. Find her on Twitter: @KimberlyinLV.