Fitchburg resident Lorena Villalobos opened a beauty salon on Fish Hatchery Road in January and hopes to eventually expand the business to become a full-service salon.

She told the Star this week she’s in the process of learning the business end of the operation, and would like to one day hire another stylist and someone to do pedicures and manicures.

For now, she cuts and styles hair, along with “coloring, highlighting, doing hair stringers and things like that,” Villalobos said.

She works alone but also shares the salon with two other women.

“They don’t work for me,” she explained. “We all have our own customers.”

Villalobos, a native of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, said she’s been living in the Madison area since 2003 and opened her own business after years of cutting hair in other salons.

“I worked at a Latina salon in Madison for eight years and then a combination shop for about eight years,” she said. “This is a bilingual salon.”

Villalobos said she began learning how to cut and style hair while still in Mexico. She attended a beauty school there and also in California. She moved to Oakland in 1993, she said, and took more classes when she moved to Wisconsin in 2003.

A mother of three – “two boys and a little girl” – Villalobos said she decided to move from California to Madison because of the opportunities it offered her family.

“When I was in California, living in Oakland, I wasn’t happy because it was hard to find a good job and living there was expensive,” she explained. “I heard about the education here for my kids. They have a good education and good schools in Madison, and so I moved here for my kids.”

She likes living here “a lot,” she said, and spends most of her free time with her family.

“They play sports, and I go to their sports games when I’m not working at home or in the salon,” Villalobos said.

Contact Bill Livick at bill.livick@wcinet.com