Martha’s Story: Foxy Lady Salon Built on Blessings

Martha Rowley, the spirited owner of Foxy Lady Salon in Claremont, California, was born and bred in Arizona. Upon working in her hometown of Yuma as a cosmetologist for seven years, Martha came to California in 1982 after just getting married. Not long thereafter, she noticed a newspaper ad for a hairdresser at Foxy Lady Salon. After calling and showing interest in the position, the shop’s first owner Margarita Valiukas invited Martha in for an interview. Immediately winning her over, Martha began working as a stylist at Foxy Lady Salon in 1982 – the same year she moved to California.

Then, after seven years of building a loyal clientele base and creating beautiful ‘dos on women of all ages, Martha went on to another salon – Hair Mates in Pomona – because Margarita decided to sell Foxy Lady Salon. But eventually that shop disintegrated as well, leaving Martha at square one and a bit unsure of where to go from there. She was now a single mother seeking steady income and place to feel comfortable. So Martha reached out and made contact with a friend at Claremont Hair Company, where fellow stylist Jim Pirlo worked at the time. Turns out, her phone call was near perfect timing. Because a hairdresser was putting in her notice to leave the shop, there was room for a new stylist.

Martha spent seven years at Claremont Hair Company before she was asked to join a beauty shop in Upland. Not one to overlook a new opportunity that could help provide for her and her daughter, Martha decided to try it out. That position, however, lasted for about four months, due to the simple fact that Martha’s clients came first: “I was reluctant because my clients were from Claremont, and they were letting me know that it was too far. They followed me to the Upland beauty shop…And I just knew I had to come back.”

Martha then quickly explored her options on where to take her hairstyling business. Knowing she wanted to operate out of Claremont again in an affordable, convenient location, she soon found herself back to where she originally started right after moving to Southern California – Foxy Lady Salon. The owner of the shop at that time was pleased to have her join the new team in 1997, and both Martha and her clients were excited about the return.

Throughout the years, Martha also held two other steady, flexible positions. She worked as a stylist for 16 years at the San Antonio Gardens, a club med of retirement homes, in addition to the famous truck stop off the 10 and 15 freeway intersection. It was savings from this job – cutting hair and cleaning up the looks of tired, exhausted drivers from afar – that helped her buy Foxy Lady Salon and become its new owner in 2005.  

But taking on new ownership of the salon did not happen immediately upon Martha’s return to the shop, as personal and professional challenges inevitably tend to present themselves. But with faith, belief, and patience, Foxy Lady Salon would become hers because the right time eventually did come around. Never giving up on a place where both clients and her team of stylists feel at home, Martha also now owns the salon at the truck stop. Proudly balancing her busy schedule, she sees to it that no client gets let down.  

Although the beginning of her career may have begun in Arizona, miles away from “the land of sunshine and opportunity,” Martha’s friends and clients would agree that her arrival in California and presence at Foxy Lady Salon has been a blessing.

Meet Rita Hughes:

At the mere age of 18, Rita Hughes became a cosmetologist in Scotland. After this period, she decided to go to Canada before eventually arriving in California. Rita initially worked at a beauty shop called Buffums for six years, following the birth of her third child. Welcoming a new change, Rita eventually and proudly joined Foxy Lady as an experienced cosmetologist. She has been in the field of cosmetology for 57 years. Rita greatly contributes to the warm feel of Foxy Lady, as she brings in special, homemade dessert to share with clients and the stylists every Friday. Also an artist by nature, the watercolor paintings on the salon wall are painted by Rita herself and currently for sale. (She has sold quite a few!)

JimMeet Jim Pirlo:

A Native of Buffalo, New York, Jim Pirlo moved with his family to the Inland Empire at the young age of 10. He graduated from Pomona High School, and soon after worked at various jobs, including Buffums’ department store as well as Northrop Aircraft Industries. Before deciding to attend beauty school, Jim dabbled in different creative avenues, such as decorating and design. Upon graduating from beauty school he started working at Mildred Campbell’s Coiffure’s in Claremont, which later became Claremont Hair Company. Jim remained there for 25 years before moving to Mai’s Salon down the street in 1999. Eventually joining the beauty staff headed by Martha, his longtime friend and colleague, Jim is now part of the team at Foxy Lady. In addition to talent and an expert eye, Jim’s good-natured and humorous personality helps clients relax and enjoy getting pampered. His hobbies include shopping, cooking, decorating, and antiquing.


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