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The Light Files - Joel Quinones

Joel Quinones

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The universe gave him a big push and he went with it! Laura Max interviews Joel Quinones, owner and artistic director of Q [the salon].

Video and Full Interview Text

Laura: Hi everyone. I'm Laura Max, your host of The Light Files on brought to you by Audi Central Houston. I'm here with Joel Quinones of Q the salon. Welcome to the show Joel.

Joel: Thank you for having me.

Laura: Well it's such an honor to have you here. You opened this salon in May after a long time of doing hair and makeup in Houston.

Joel: I was just pushed by the universe into doing it and I'm really glad I did. I just followed my gut. It's one of those sayings where the universe asks you to do certain things and you can either choose to listen to it or not and I just went with my gut and I'm really glad I did. It's been the best thing, what an uplifting thing.

Laura: That's absolutely true and you were telling me earlier when we spoke before the interview that you just had all these signs, all these people kind of came out when you were ready to start your own salon.

Joel: I did. It was really odd because I'd been doing hair where I was working for a long time and then all of a sudden I had customers saying "When are you going to open your own place? I'm in construction. I can help you with that." "I do legal work." "I help start small businesses" and it just started coming together like that and -

Laura: It's amazing how that happens.

Joel: I'm glad I went with my gut. That's all I can say you know.

Laura: One of my favorite things to do in The Light Files is to bring people on the show who really talk to other people about going with their gut and following their dreams and so from your story it really sounds like that's something you've done to land here.

Joel: It's true because it sort of, again, found me. It was not - I grew up in Houston in Texas in the 60s and that's just not a dream that a guy had about was doing hair and makeup. I mean I grew up with a bunch of boys and -

Laura: It was a little unconventional.

Joel: Yes. Yes. Not at all. And I just remember always having an eye for fashion, noticing magazines and who did hair and who did makeup and then I got into college and I had no money. I remember we were just broke college students and we would stand around and eat and I started like mimicking like people in magazines and transferring it onto my subjects so.

Laura: You were telling me about that, that you used to take celebrities in magazines in the 80s and you would makeover your friends.

Joel: I would do like an Audrey Hepburn look from the 60s or a Marilyn Monroe and we would just do it just for fun and we would be silly and goofy and laughing and playing records.

Laura: I would have loved being your friend.

Joel: And it was hilarious and it turned out pretty decent and I had no training but I just did what, just mimicked it and that's just how it just snowballed. People were like "Can you do me for the semiformal and the big ball."

Laura: And hey you're actually really good at it.

Joel: Here. I'll pay you $5.00 or I'll buy you dinner." And it was like "Sure. It's not a real job. I'll do it." And that's just how it just started snowballing and I ended up doing cosmetics for a company, travelling with them because I became a national makeup artist. After travelling for a few years I came back to Houston. My girlfriend Paige Parks had an agency. I went to work for her doing makeup for the agency and she's the one that actually kind of talked me in to doing hair. She's like "If you do hair you'll get more jobs" because in Texas you do hair and makeup for a shoot whereas like in New York you hair one hair person, one makeup person.

Laura: Right. In Houston it's very important to do both.

Joel: So it just kept going. It just kept going. Once I got my hair license I started doing a lot of jobs. Then the owner where I previously worked came and asked me if I wanted to come and apprentice, follow their apprenticeship program and I said sure. And he had a spot on television here locally and so there was no one doing makeup so whoever went on television had to have a makeup person and had to go and talk about it.

Laura: And there you are.

Joel: And it just sounds like I'm blabbing but that's really how it is. Just one door kept going and I just kept walking through them.

Laura: What it sounds like is that you were at the right place at the right time.

Joel: Mm-hmm.

Laura: And you took advantage of the opportunity.

Joel: Absolutely. And then through television of course they had celebrities and that's how you start doing celebrities and then once you do a couple of them and they don't complain about you and they like what you do then they keep saying "Well this guy can handle this gig" so boom, boom, boom, a couple of films locally came into play. We did Rushmore with Bill Murray. I did him and Jason Schwartzman and we did Arlington Road with Jeff Bridges and it just, again, the universe puts you in spots and you have to rise to the challenge.

Laura: All you have to do is rise to the challenge.

Joel: You do.

Laura: Walk through the door.

Joel: And then you have your panic attack afterwards 'cause you went "I can't believe I just did that."

Laura: It feels like "Oh my God. I'm going to throw up. I can't believe I just -"

Joel: Exactly. Absolutely.

Laura: "Did I really follow through with this?"

Joel: You always question your skills because in my world everyone has gifts and you would love to have them like they have them but you can only have them like you have them.

Laura: And you have to trust your own gifts.

Joel: Totally.

Laura: You have to trust that you have them for a reason and go with it.

Joel: Totally. Like I have two guys that work with me here and they're brilliant at what they do. One guy is a killer cutter, one guy is a killer colorist and they just have their thing but I do my thing and we all - it's great.

Laura: You all have your place.

Joel: We bounce off of each other very well. Yes. Yes.

Laura: So going back to the magazines I love this story because here you were in the 80s doing your friends makeup, copying celebrities in magazines and then the queen of magazines Anna Wintour herself comes to Houston.

Joel: Yes that was another - that was another push to get me out the door. At the time I had three things happen in a row. We had a magazine who nominated me for best hairdresser in town and that freaked me out 'cause I was like "What?"

Laura: Is this me?

Joel: Yeah. And then I had Liza Minnelli who needed a makeup artist.

Laura: Oh my God.

Joel: Only like two hours before a performance. They had lost her luggage and they're like "please come do it" and one of my makeup gurus, Kevin Aucoin, was her makeup artist for years so I said "I've got to go just so I can be in her vibe."

Laura: Oh yeah.

Joel: And then I got a call from Vogue magazine and they're like "Miss Wintour's going to be in town. Are you available?" and I was like "Of course I'm available."

Laura: Hello.

Joel: Of course I'm available. I made it all over Miss W of course.

Laura: Cancel everything.

Joel: You bet.

Laura: And we have her thank you note is right behind us from Anna Wintour for doing her hair.

Joel: Yes. She was so awesome.

Laura: You said she was so nice.

Joel: She has no idea. Like she's just one of these really smart, regal, in the know girls and I was inspired by her. She was great and she was the push and after that she was great because she helped me get connections in New York and some of the lines we carry are exclusive here and Miss Wintour and her group.

Laura: Well you're inspired by her. I am inspired by you. I think it's incredible -

Joel: She's awesome.

Laura: That you have really taken life up on its, what it's presented you with and gotten to where you are today so I know that you've given I think a lot of guidance sort of subliminally in this interview about really taking life up on those offers. What do you think it is that makes you capable of doing that? A lot of times I think life presents an opportunity and we feel like "Oh well that's not for me" or "I'm too scared." How do you get over that?

Joel: You just have to stay centered really.

Laura: Stay centered.

Joel: You have to stay centered and I mean it. Just jump off the cliff. You know there's a bigger power out there waiting to catch you. Why would you - you have two choices.

Laura: There's a bigger power out there waiting to catch you.

Joel: Right. You can't. If you have the option to take the good or the bad why? They're 50/50. I'm going to go with the good. I'm a half full kind of glass guy so.

Laura: And there is a net below you even though it doesn't always feel that way.

Joel: It is. It is.

Laura: You're not alone.

Joel: It is and even the tough stuff that you go through, it's prepping you for something bigger.

Laura: Always.

Joel: Truly and you just think "Why am I going through this?" and you realize "Oh I needed these tools."

Laura: For the next step.

Joel: For this gig. Absolutely. And I'm just learning to listen to things and just be - I'm much more of a listener now even though I'm running my mouth here at 100 miles an hour.

Laura: I love hearing your stories.

Joel: I was a chitty chatty boy.

Laura: I'm glad you decided to talk.

Joel: I'm thrilled that you wanted to listen to my story.

Laura: Well Joel it was so nice having you on the show and for those of our audience who want to get their hair done or their makeup done by you where can they find you?

Joel: I am at Q the salon, 1512B West Alabama which is in the Montrose at Mandell.

Laura: Fantastic. Well thank you again for coming on the show.

Joel: Thank you for having me.

Laura: And as always you're watching The Light Files by Laura Max on brought to you by Audi Central Houston. You can find us every week on News92.FM on Sunday at noon and all the time on We'll see you again next week. Bye everyone.

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