Hildamay Cruz and her parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba when Cruz was a young girl. They started out in this country with very little, and upon their first Christmas in their new country, six-year-old Cruz received a pair of roller skates from a local adopt-a-family Christmas program.
This past December, the Council Bluffs, Iowa Sport Clips Haircuts team participated in a similar program. Cruz, the store’s manager, still remembers what those roller skates meant to her as a kid and feels fortunate to now be able to give back.
“When I found out our store would be adopting a family, I became very emotional. It felt like my life had come full circle. I am so grateful. I really feel that with hard work, you can turn the tables,” says Cruz.
No stranger to hard work, Cruz has come a long way since receiving those roller skates. She started her first job at only 14 years old, while also enrolling in her high school’s cosmetology program. At age 17, after completing high school, she went on to work as a stylist at a full-service salon.
One day, after discussing how much she enjoyed doing men’s cuts, a friend encouraged Cruz to apply with Sport Clips, leaders in the men’s hair care industry. “Immediately, I could tell Sport Clips was a great fit for me,” she explains. “I love the culture and values of the company. It is well structured, and a stylist can start making money right away.”
The flexibility offered was also important to Cruz. “Because I can make my own schedule, I am also able to attend school full-time, something that has always been a dream of mine,” she states.
Cruz started at the reception desk and quickly advanced to a stylist role. Team leaders Dan and Angie Roberts saw her potential and encouraged Cruz to apply to become a manager. “The Roberts have been so supportive. They saw me as a leader even before I saw myself as one and helped me to grow professionally.”
Developing team members is a keystone of Sport Clips’ effective manager-led business model. An empowered and motivated manager almost always leads to success for a store. Under Cruz’s management, her store quickly became the top performer in the entire state of Iowa.
Communication is key to Cruz’s effectiveness as a successful manager. “A positive store culture is everything,” she says. “You have to show your team you care about them and appreciate their hard work. You also have to take the time to learn what their individual goals are and help them grow toward those.”
Cruz’s career with Sport Clips has put her on a path to accomplish many of her goals. “I never imagined I would be where I am today, let alone at only 24 years old,” she states. “My husband and I are both full-time college students and because of the stability my income provides, we haven’t taken out any school loans. We were even able to pay off my car two years ahead of schedule and put a down payment on a house.”
Most importantly for Cruz, her career has positioned her to take care of others. She recently bought her parents plane tickets to visit family in Cuba. “This is something they haven’t been able to do, and it is an amazing feeling to be able to do that for them after they have done so much for me,” Cruz says.
When asked what the future holds for this dynamic store manager, Cruz says, “Personally, my husband and I are looking forward to doing some more travelling as well. We have already been to France, Italy, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Mexico. And we are really excited to be going to Cuba this March. We will be taking some necessities to the locals, such as medicine, vitamins, toys and toothbrushes. Professionally, I think earning my degree in communications will help me be an even more effective team member and manager. There are so many incredible opportunities for career development with this brand.
“I feel very fortunate to be a part of Sport Clips, with its culture of giving. I was especially reminded of it this last Christmas when our store participated in the Adopt-A-Family event. It feels incredible to give back.”