Know Your Neighbor: Phyllis Garcia

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Beauty appears to surround Phyllis Garcia, whether she’s working at her business, The Beauty Boutique, or thinking about her past cake-decorating work, including the occasion of Julia Roberts’ wedding.

“I’ve been working on hair for nine years. A friend and I had discussed a name for my hair business years ago, and I thought the suggestion of The Beauty Boutique was a cool name, especially since I offer so many services,” said Garcia during an early October interview at her salon, which is located at 212 Kit Carson Road. The premises, a brown stucco building with fashion art piece wrought iron on the front window, is located across the street from the Wanda Lucero Insurance Agency.

After high school graduation, Garcia was interested in the beauty business and attended cosmetology school in El Rito. “I wasn’t ready for it, so I dropped out,” she said. She then enrolled in classes at The Specialty Shop in Albuquerque, where she studied cake decorating.

For many years, she baked and decorated wedding and birthday cakes in Albuquerque and Taos. One day, a gentleman appeared on the scene, requesting her to bake and decorate a wedding cake for his boss. He never mentioned the name of his boss and said he would furnish the items (cake separator sets and the topper). A woman sat in a BMW and wore sunglasses and a hat, but Garcia did not meet her. The assistant did not wish for Garcia to deliver or cut the cake, as was her custom. Someone picked up the cake, completed in tiers, and was told that the assembly would take place at the site of the wedding, scheduled for the Fourth of July. “I had the cake ready by July 3,” said Garcia. “It was a gold [yellow] cake, three layers high. The large cake at the bottom was hot pink, white and strawberry flavored. The contact number was for a Beverly Hills destination. I never knew the name of the bride or groom until later, the internet and People magazine described Julia Roberts’ and Danny Moder’s wedding cake, and I realized it was the one I made!”

Garcia said, “I guess Julia’s staff member found my name and business information in the phone book. That was my six degrees of separation and 15 minutes of fame.”

Another career choice included a stint as a loan officer in the mortgage business on and off for seven or eight years. When the real estate market crashed in 2008, Garcia’s former boss proclaimed to her that “there’s not a future in this particular business at this time.”

With no job prospects, Garcia followed a whim about once again pursuing a career in the beauty industry. For 10 months, Garcia traveled daily from Taos to Santa Fe to attend Vogue Cosmetology School. She completed an internship at Spirits of Beauty. At El Monte Sagrado, Garcia provided services on nails, facials and full body waxing. However, she missed working with hair and other aspects of the world of beauty. In November 2016, she opened The Beauty Boutique.

At her shop, Garcia works on hairstyles for men, women and children. She completes colors, perms and highlights. One service that The Beauty Boutique offers is balayage, the painting of hair without the use of foil. “Through the use of a paint-on brush, free-fall hair has a natural look, appearing sun-kissed as opposed to freeform [a uniform look],” the cosmetologist said. Other specialties include eyelash extensions, full body waxing, manicures and pedicures. “I’m rounded, busy in one area or another. When I finish something, I try to do something else. I have much repeat business and work mostly with hair and eyelash extensions [one new lash added to one lash already on the client], which will make lashes thicker, larger and curly. There’s no need for mascara or curling after this process,” Garcia said.

For the boutique end of the business, Garcia sells hair products and jewelry. Makeup, produced locally by Vapor, provides the customer chemical-free organic material with mica, so the product never spoils. The business owner stresses atmosphere as an important part of the experience. She wants the client to feel as comfortable as possible, at home, beautiful and good about self. Garcia accepts walk-ins and appointments Wednesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays by appointment. Call (575) 779-7582 for information and/or an appointment.

Garcia likes to spend time with her large extended family. Her maternal great-grandparents were the late Mayor Rumaldo Garcia and the late Teddy Garcia. Her maternal grandparents are the late Leroy Garcia and Berlinda Trujillo. Paternal grandparents are the late Tony Santistevan and Pita Santistevan. Her parents are Yvonne (Daniel) Castillo and Felipe Santistevan. Garcia’s siblings remain close to her despite living elsewhere. Tabitha (Rob) Barientos manages an all-female mariachi group in Denton, Texas. Valerie (Rick) Apodaca teaches in Santa Fe.

Garcia met Mario Garcia when a friend introduced them at Victory Love (now Legacy) Church in Albuquerque. They were married six months later. Mario Garcia loved Taos the moment he visited, and the husband and wife have resided here for the majority of their 20-year marriage. Mario Garcia plays baseball and softball and opened his auto body and windshield repair business in May, shortly after his wife opened her business. For their 20th wedding anniversary, the couple enjoyed a cruise in June of 2017 to the eastern Caribbean, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands. 

The Garcias have four children. Nathanael Garcia, 10, works at Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. Jonathan, 16, is a running back and a state contender for wrestling. The only daughter, Annissa, attends fifth grade at Taos Charter School and belongs to “Extreme Cheer.” Elijah, 5, attends kindergarten at Taos Charter School. He loves Legos and hopes to someday play football and wrestle.

Phyllis Garcia works out every day, attends church and spends much time attending her children’s activities. She cooks the foods of her Hispanic culture (enchiladas, beans, chile, etc.), but also likes Italian food. People still call her to fill cake orders, but she said, “Cake and hair don’t mix.”

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