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It's metal and hair -- but not '80s rock style

Carlos Sosa muses on hairstyles.


“Hair changes people,” he said. “Something as simple as a new cut or style can start a ripple effect in your life.”

The owner of Fierro Salon, Sosa offers his philosophies in the place where split ends potentially represent more than just the leftovers from a peripheral trim.

Sosa grew up on the Central Coast and graduated from Morro Bay High School, where he played sports, danced, and drew.

“I was as much an artist as an athlete,” he explained.

On Fridays, Sosa used his friends’ hair as a canvas: “I always cut hair for all my black and Latino friends, and thought, ‘Hey, I could do this for a living.’”

Unsure of what to do after high school, Sosa knew he wanted to do something creative. One day, while job hunting, Sosa met a barber who recommended a cosmetology license. So Sosa enrolled at San Luis Obispo Beauty College.

But the novelty wore off.

Sosa left school and worked various construction jobs, where he struggled to fit in.

“I felt like a stallion among mules,” he said. “There was just something inside telling me to move on.”

So he returned to beauty college and finished. Since graduation, Sosa has spent 14 years working in salons throughout the county.

Sosa is armed with bold intentions. As a sort of self-image counselor, Sosa will tune you up with a few snips here, a dab of color there.

And he said he wants his salon to maintain currency in the salon world. That means detailing hair so it has both form and function.

“Whatever plan I come up with for your hair will have an effect,” he said. “If you want that new job, then I’ll do what it takes to get you it.”

Sosa maintains a spirited outlook in all parts of his life. Not only does he do hair, but he coaches youth soccer in Atascadero. What’s more, his belief in the significance of family shapes his business; his salon is an homage to his grandmother, whose last name is Fierro, which in Spanish means “iron.” Smiling and slapping his biceps, Sosa says he considers himself a piece of iron.

The Sosa family is made up of Carlos’ wife, Anna, and their three children.

“As parents, we tell [the kids], ‘If you look good and feel good, then you’ll do better in life,’” said Anna, who works as a pediatric nurse.

His oldest daughter, Salina, will attend San Francisco State University to study fashion merchandise. She was proud of her father’s venture: “It’s awesome. He needed to move on with his life and do his own thing.”

The decision was serendipitous because a space opened in the Laguna Lake Shopping Center out of the blue. Brenda Benninghoff, property manager for R. Poltl & Associates, notified Sosa of the vacancy.

“It was a good time, financially,” Sosa said.

“The stars were in place,” Anna added.

But Sosa didn’t have to do much fitting in; the business before Fierro was also a salon. Sosa gutted what he thought looked like a “bad interpretation” of an industrial motif. Then he partnered with architect George Garcia to design the space.

“We were bound only by a rectangle,” Sosa said.

Original artwork by Isaac Greetes hangs on the walls and casts warm, abstract shadows of gray, red, and white. And cool, light brown arbor-style ceilings create an open-air atmosphere, which add to Fierro’s chic, yet hip, ambience.

“It’s a practical work of art,” Sosa said.

Ever the optimist, Sosa knows people show loyalty to their hairdressers: “We’ll always be exciting and we won’t get complacent. I want to help you achieve your goals.”

Fierro Salon is at 1332 Madonna Road in San Luis Obispo. Call 543-1652.

Fast Facts

Central Coast chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers will teach you techniques of grafting fruit trees on Feb. 19 at the 17th annual scion exchange and grafting party. Rootstock for apples, plums, peaches, nectarines, almonds, and apricots will be available for $3. Also learn how to graft avocado trees. The party is at 1:30 p.m. at the Crops Unit on the Cal Poly campus.

Intern Anthony Pannone compiled this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send ideas for consideration to

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