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Reza Nouri’s American Dream

The Iran native’s Hollywood Hair & Nails turns 17 this month.

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Reza Nouri (right) and client Benjamin Colbert.

Reza Nouri is the embodiment of the modern American dream. His salon, Hollywood Hair & Nails, will mark 17 years in business on March 23, and Nouri will be celebrating by inviting longtime clients (and potential future clients) to join him on March 25 for drinks and finger foods.

“I am feeling overwhelmed, thankful, happy, and sad. So many mixed emotions,” says Nouri of the anniversary.

Nouri has been in the business of beauty only slightly longer than his Montrose salon has been around.

“It was so much fun when I started cosmetology school for the first four months. After that, I felt bored and was ready to work on real people. I was so anxious to be in the real world and to start working with clients,” says Nouri.

While Nouri’s clients are the key to his business, he has a much deeper connection to the people he helps make beautiful.

“I am pretty attached to my clients. I love my clients, and I see most of them two, three, or four times a week. I am in a uniquely beautiful relationship with every single one of them. Most of them have been coming to us since day one,” says Nouri.

Hollywood Hair & Nails is located in the heart of Montrose, a far cry from where Nouri spent the early part of his life in Tehran, Iran. Nouri officially became an American citizen only last year.

“I moved to Houston 26 years ago from Iran. Leaving Iran wasn’t a choice, and I was too young to understand. However, it was the right thing to do, considering what had happened in the motherland. My mother was pregnant with me during the Islamic Revolution.”

Nouri was born in 1980, at the beginning of the war between Iran and Iraq. Death and trauma were all that Nouri saw for the first eight years of his life.

“It was really tough for everyone in Iran—being hated by other countries, plus living in a country with an angry, hateful, insecure fascist government that was prosecuting, arresting, torturing, and killing people, all in the name of God. It was awful. I still feel suffocated just thinking about it,” Nouri admits.

In his early teens, Nouri, who identifies as gay, says he was trying to figure out who he was without putting a burden on his family. But being a gay Jewish Iranian teenager in Iran was difficult. Partially out of concern for his safety, Nouri’s family moved to America in 1993.

“I miss Iran so much, but I love this country more than life. In Tehran, I learned so much about the history of Iran and everything that happened to it. That is why I am who I am. With that said, [America] gave me something I never had before—a voice, and the freedom to express myself. It feels so good to be free! It may sound lame to some people, but they have never had their basic rights taken away from them,” Nouri emphasizes.

Nouri’s love for his country and his LGBTQ community in Houston is something he talks about lovingly and often.

“So many people made it possible for all of us to be here today. I remind myself every day of their sacrifice, and for that I am grateful. I try to do my best to keep their legacy and to pass it on. Sometimes I find myself frustrated for not doing enough, and I feel the weight of that every moment. I want to tell everyone the story of those who came before me—the fight that they fought [so that I am] able to be bold and strong enough to start my own business.”

Potential new clients who want a little piece of the magic created by Nouri in his salon can make an appointment online. “We do everything from head to toe, with the exception of shaving,” Nouri explains. “You may come into the shop feeling a certain way, but I make sure that before you leave I see you smile and that you look and feel awesome. My clients are my family. They are taking a piece of me with them everywhere they go. I want to compliment them [and help them] feel positive, since they are my walking advertisements.”

Hollywood Hair & Nails, 2409 Grant Street, Suite B.

Appointments can be made on Facebook (search Hollywood Hair & Nails Salon), or at rezanouri.glossgenius.com.

This article appears in the March 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.

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Ryan Leach

Ryan Leach is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine. Follow him on Medium at www.medium.com/@ryan_leach.

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