Interview with Pavo Pelo's owner, India Mejia

On her salon start-up, Pavo Pelo

by Jessica Levine | Wed, April 05, 2017

Aveda-trained hairstylist India Mejia takes us behind the scenes of her salon start-up, Pavo Pelo and offers advice on managing your mane in Shanghai. The working mom also dishes on the similarities between owning a salon and having two daughters.


SF: How did you get started in the field? 

IM: I started my career 16 years ago, and I can credit my interest in the field to my cultural background and family. I grew up in a world where all of the women in my family did each other’s hair and even made homemade treatments for hair. This was, in many ways, my origin story – how I fell in love with hair, you could say.


SF: What’s the story behind Pavo Pelo? 

IM: I came to Shanghai from the US in June 2014 for a job opportunity, and Pavo Pelo was established in 2015. ‘Pavo’ is the root word for ‘peacock,’ and ‘Pelo’ is the Spanish word for ‘hair.’ It is true that male peacocks are the colorful ones known for showing off; however, I felt the name was fitting because that’s how a woman should feel after she leaves the salon. It’s also one of my favorite animals and quite relevant to Chinese culture. My specialty is custom color, cuts, highlights, relaxers and keratin treatments, to name a few. The majority of my clients are expats from all over the world.


SF: What are the challenges and opportunities of owning a hair salon in Shanghai?

IM: I think learning the rules and expectations for business owners, specifically foreigners who have a company in China, is one of the toughest challenges I have faced – learning how to operate and run a business in an environment where things are ever-changing. As for opportunities, we have such a diverse group of expats living in Shanghai. Pavo Pelo is here to provide customers with the same high-end experience they are accustomed to in their home country. There are so many aspects of our lives as expats we either cannot control or are stuck having to settle for less. I believe that your hair should be neither of those.


SF: Are there any lessons from your work that apply to your role as a mom? 

IM: Patience, patience, patience! I have two girls: Nyla is four-and-a-half, and my baby girl, Fabiana, is 10 months old. Few parents won’t admit it, but parenting is loaded with lots of trial and error regarding what works for your kids, especially when you have more than one with different personalities. This is definitely the same with clients who have had bad experiences or are simply afraid to get their hair done in a city where there is a lack of licensed professionals in the field.


SF: What’s your best Shanghai hair advice? 

IM: Living in China, the water can easily dry out your hair, so it’s important to get a filter for your home and moisturize often. The worse mistake I’ve seen my clients make is not getting haircuts as frequently as they should, which often doesn’t allow their hair to flourish to its potential. Get your hair trimmed every six to 10 weeks depending on hair type, and you can avoid having to do those big painful cuts because you waited too long.


The Last Word

Least favorite hair trend: Chunky highlights 

Funniest quote from your child this month: Nyla (4) came up to me and said, “Mommy, Daddy never listens to you; he is so hard-headed!”

What’s always in your bag: MAC lipstick, iPhone, hand lotion, hand sanitizer and old receipts!

Favorite family outing spot in the city: The Cut at IAPM mall

Find India @:

Hilton Hotel, 4/F, 250 Huashan Lu,near Yan'an Lu
华山路250号,希尔顿酒店4楼, 近延安路
(on the 4th Floor past the Spa, inside Bijin, come in ask for India)

Scan the QR Code below to make an appointment: