Rochester salon owner honored by business association

ROCHESTER — Ines Antonetti-Ferrer knew she was meant to be a hairdresser when she styled a friend’s hair in high school, and fellow students then wanted her to do their hair as well.

But she didn’t want to only style hair; Antonetti-Ferrer also sought to become a business owner and eventually opened her own salon. After being in business with her sister for 17 years following becoming a licensed cosmetologist, she went on her own about 13 years ago and now runs Casa de Hair on North Goodman Street. She also is the lead stylist.

Antonetti-Ferrer said that she never expected to be recognized as the Hispanic Business Person of the Year as she was on Sept. 24 during the Rochester Hispanic Business Association’s annual luncheon. She is only the fourth woman to be recognized for the award, said Grace Tillinghast, RHBA’s outgoing chairwoman. Hiram Hernández Sr. is RHBA’s new chairman.

"I was honored," Antonetti-Ferrer said of the award. "I feel blessed, honored, joyful."

Vilma Burgos-Torres said that she nominated Antonetti-Ferrer because of her talents and achievements as a woman business owner in the city. And she not only helps women feel beautiful on the outside; Antonetti-Ferrer’s warm personality offers her clients and staff a caring and supportive atmosphere, Burgos-Torres said.

Antonetti-Ferrer even lets other women in the community promote their own businesses at the salon, she added.

The salon "is a place for us to meet and also to share," said Burgos-Torres. "It is a community. And she’s just a wonderful person."

In addition to the presentation of the annual award to Antonetti-Ferrer, the luncheon also included a keynote address by Vincent Esposito, who is currently regional director of Empire State Development. Esposito talked about his work overseeing the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to improve economic conditions throughout the nine counties in the Rochester region.

 Esposito, who served nearly five years in the Monroe County Legislature, also talked about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to help such minority women-owned businesses as Antonetti-Ferrer’s. Those efforts include creation of a task force to increase the number of state contracts awarded to these businesses.

Esposito also explained how the regional council is made up of 35 members who represent an array of sectors — government, education, nonprofit and business. It is cochaired by Danny Wegman, he said, with more than 115 volunteers working on subgroups.

"It (the council) is a round table for ideas to move our state forward," he said. "The council’s charge is to create jobs."

Some of the projects that the council has been involved in include the redevelopment of Midtown Plaza, and creating the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at Rochester Institute of Technology and College Town at the University of Rochester.

The council now is working on the Opportunity Agenda, an initiative aimed at helping people in such economically disadvantaged areas as the northeast Rochester neighborhoods known as "the crescent," Esposito said.

"To solve our economic woes takes all of us," he remarked.

The goal is to add jobs, affordable housing and business opportunities, he said. The agenda includes creation of a new Urban Center for Entrepreneurship aimed at bringing businesses to the city, which "is critical for our region," Esposito said.

Antonetti-Ferrer said that she sees growth for her business and encourages other small business owners in the city to not give up if they encounter obstacles.

"Just continue to work hard," she added. "Sometimes, it’s a struggle. But you always have to stay positive. Because when you love what you do, (your business) will grow by itself."

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