We had the pleasure of interviewing Raquel Watters, Miami fashionista and owner of Rik-Rak Salon. Rik-Rak Salon is a full service salon located in Brickell, Miami. The salon not only offers beauty services but it also has a boutique for clients to shop and a bar. This makes it versatile and sets it apart from other salons. When you step into the salon, get ready for a transformation, not only will you leave with your hair looking fabulous but also you have the opportunity to shop for the most unique clothes, jewelry, and accessories that you can buy at the boutique. Many celebrities have walked the doors of Rik-Rak Salon, among them some are: Alicia Keys, Barbra Streisand, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Brooke Shields, Carolina Herrera, Jennifer Anniston, Lenny Kravitz, and many more.
Lady Code: Tell us more about your current role at Rik-Rak
Raquel: “My current role is overlooking over the entire salon, I take care of the hiring, unfortunately I also take care of the firing. I do all the buying, and I take care of basically everything except for hair. So, that’s my role:management.”
Lady Code: How did you get into fashion? You mentioned something to us about studying fashion?
Raquel: “Yes I did, I grew up in New York, my mother was a very fashion forward person, and living in New York I was exposed to the best fashion. I wanted to study fashion in New York but I couldn’t because we moved to Miami and I ended up going to Florida International University and studying fashion design. Shortly after moving to Miami, before I met Rik, my mother and I opened up a store in Coral Gables actually. That is how I actually met Rik, I used to do a lot of fashion shows and I would hire salons to do hair and makeup for my models. One of the salons I hired is where Rik worked, so he did the hair and makeup…and the rest is history.”
Lady Code: Have you always been into fashion?
Raquel: “Yes, I always loved fashion – fashion is my passion! I have an unique taste, that’s why a lot of the stuff here at the boutique is very different because sometimes it can be difficult to compete with other stores like Forever 21, etc. So I try to find trendy stuff for reasonable prices that you won’t find anywhere else. We go to Vegas twice a year, that’s where I get all of the stuff.”
Lady Code: Where do you see your business going in five to ten years in terms of fashion and the clothes?
Raquel: “Rik and I plan to expand, we’ve had several salons at the Sagamore in South Beach where we also had a spa, and at the J.W. Marquis, but Rik and I are more about hair and fashion so that quiet calm atmosphere it’s really not my husband and I. I see Rik-Rak going multiple places. We have had this salon for 11 years and the other ones for 14 years, really we have been in business for 26 years.”
Lady Code: So you mentioned that you lived in New York, which is the fashion capital, why did you move to Miami?
Raquel: “My father wanted to move here because of the sun and the weather, my mother and I loved New York and it was also very tough for me because I was in high school and had to leave all my friends. I do get to visit New York very often, which is good. One shock I had when moving here from New York, was that at the time Miami was not very fashionable, which was very hard for me but in the recent years things have changed and the city has taken a turn towards fashion.”
Lady Code: Do you have any future plan to expand to New York or LA?
Raquel: “We were thinking about LA for a while but first we would like to expand here, like in the Aventura area or Midtown. We have to find the right place in terms of location, convenience, and parking. Dealing with parking in Miami can be tough.”
Lady Code: Tell us more about the Vegas trade shows?
Raquel: ” I used to go to New York for fashion week but it became difficult with the weather so warm here, buying stuff there in the winter time was tough with the fabric being so heavy. I found out about the Vegas trade shows probably 12 years ago and i started going and the fabrics and materials they sell there are very much like what we wear here. A lot of the vendors are from LA and the look is perfect with Miami, they have trendy things that are not very pricey, so I do go there about twice a year.”
Lady Code: What was your boutique like before Rik-Rak?
Raquel: “It was totally different, it was very elegant, as you walked in we had a chandelier, beautiful carpet, elegant mirrors. Also the clothes that I carried were very expensive as well as the jewelry between $300-$500. In terms of the style, back then in the ’80s we had a lot of the shoulder pads, the silk fabrics, the denim with the rhinestones, a lot of very cool things, lots of hats and very big accessories. We had big beautiful rhinestone earrings, and big necklaces, everything back then was big. It was a lot of fun.”
Lady Code: What advice would you give to young women entrepreneurs?
Raquel: “They have to think smart, if they want to open a store or a boutique, again location is crucial. Don’t let overhead be too high, you don’t have to spend a fortune on decorating the place you can be creative and make it cool. Start small don’t every overbuy, I never overbuy, even today I get one pack of each and if it sells well then I can always get more, but I don’t go crazy. Be very careful with where you invest, and you also have to watch what people are buying and be aware of the look and style people want. You learn so much from people just by looking at them. Provide excellent customer service, the customer is very important. For a lot of the customers that shop at the boutique it’s strictly impulse, that is why I was saying earlier to buy in small quantities. While they have the highlights processing in their hair they can look around and buy stuff, rarely do I have shoppers that come strictly just for shopping. Ohh and one more thing, get ready to work hard – work, work, work, I don’t stop. You have to have the passion for whatever you do.”
Lady Code: How did you combine the boutique with the salon?
Raquel: “A long time ago I suggested to Rik that I bring in some earrings, you know start small and see how they do. At first he thought it was tacky but I went and brought some in anyways. After he saw how well they did, he would be the one asking me to bring in more stuff. We have a captive audience here, we don’t have to wait around for a customer to come in, they are already here.”
Lady Code: What advice would you give to young women that are bullied?
Raquel: “Bullying is a very sad thing, the person that does the bullying has major issues, you have to remember that. I have always had a challenge with that because when I came down from New York, there was no fashion here, and i came with the big pants with the bell bottoms and the big chunky shoes. People would look at me and they were not necessarily bullying me but I could tell from their look and their laugh, but I thought, I am a strong cookie, and the more they laughed the more I dressed up. Until one day at the end of high school when I had one girl come up to me and said: you are so cool! you dress so different, and that’s one of my best friends up until today. So my best advice is to ignore the bullies and be sure of yourself and be confident. Just keep on going and be strong. “
Lady Code: Those are the questions that we had prepared for you, but is there anything else you would like to add?
Raquel: “I am very, very grateful to my mom for being so much into fashion and showing me, sometimes she would tell me no that does not look good and I would get upset but she was right, so I really owe my whole career to my mother, I really do. She always guided me and wanted me to go to school, and have my own career so I can stand on my own two feet.”