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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, July 19, 2016
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The Good Life
with Eli F.J. Tajanlangit

A silver Virtu

The Good Life
with Eli F.J. Tajanlangit

When the Yusay girls and a cousin were putting up Virtu Beauty Salon, a well-meaning tita had asked them: Masarangan ninyo ni? Can you hack this?

It wasn't just the fact that this was the first beauty parlor in Bacolod to locate in a hotel, something that was unheard of in those days. It was also the fact that L'Fisher Hotel, where Virtu was to open, had its own positioning -- as the grand new hotel of the city at that time -- and the beauty salon had to necessarily match that.

It wasn't therefore just a beauty parlor the girls were to open; it had to be a salon that catered to the demands of the hotel clientele and met its stringent standards which were not exactly mass market.

That was 25 years ago. Today, Virtu has not only persisted and thrived at the L'Fisher. It has also branched out to three other places in the city, in its effort to catch the burgeoning market of Bacolod: It has a branch at the City Walk in Robinsons and branches at Lopue's East and La Salle Ave. The all-girls enterprise has, it can be said, arrived. And how!

Four of them are sisters and sisters in law: Lulu Yusay Abelido and her in-laws Mycel Caram-, Marisue Limjap- and Marides Limjap-Yusay. A cousin, Auxilla Perez Burgos is the fifth partner.

Aside from having created and kept its positioning as the salon of an upscale hotel, Virtu at 25 years may well be one of the longest-operating parlors in Bacolod, if not the oldest.

For the girls, grit, hard work, common sense as well as a willingness to keep improving and learning are the secrets behind Virtu's survival read that as: success -- all these years. Oh, there were problems and difficulties, times such as when the people working for the parlor were pirated, or when some clients fell in love with Virtu way too much they started entertaining the idea of copying it.

Several of these copycats had opened, and all of them had closed, but the girls aren't resting; they know competition can always sprout, which is why they keep trying new things, even going on travels abroad together to find the latest products and trends to bring back to the city.

Aside from these, the girls confided that one other secret they have lived with all these years is their insistence to use genuine products in its treatments. No fake products, they said. As for the Virtu manpower, they said they continue to focus on instilling proper decorum and the good old GMRC among them, not only for customer handling but also for their inter-personal relations.

Learning and trying new things was not exactly new to the girls. Right at the start, they saw the need to set the trend, to deliver the latest, considering the market it was serving. Shortly before it opened, in fact, they brought in the famous Precy of the equally famous Manila salon Bujiwara to train their hairstylists. From time to time, they also brought in guest hairstylists to work with their staff so they'd learn: Paul of Regines, Louis Philip Kee and Richard Perello of Henri Calayag.

Aside from the hairstylists, Virtu also first brought in treatments, such as hair rebonding, air-brush make-up, digital perm, eyelash perm, eyelash extension and keratin.

Two decades and a half since it opened, it can be said that Virtu has woven itself into the fabric of community life in the city, what with all the weddings, debuts and other special events it had helped pull off. And then the eventual question is asked: So what's next? After proving it can operate a salon with a positioning, what's the next dream? A line of beauty products perhaps Virtu soap and Virtu shampoo and Virtu lotion, they said, most of their eyes twinkling.

A tall order, you initially think. But then looking back at the last 25 years and how they were able to pull this off, one begins to think: Why not?*


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