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Jesika Novoa Is the Valley's "Gothic Chola"

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Jesika Novoa always has had an eye for beauty. In fact, it's been her driving force toward happiness.

Once upon a time, the 31-year-old was working for an insurance company doing accounting work and making really good money. "I was able to afford anything I wanted, but I was really unhappy," says Novoa. "I had to drag myself to work every day."

See also: Michelle Vilavanh Knows Style Is All About Attitude

One day, out of the blue, she began cutting her ex's hair. Upon completion, Novoa and her roommate reflected on her work and both agreed that it looked really good. "After that, I just continued to do it," she says. "I said, 'Eff it,' and I paid my way through school, and, as soon as I was done, I went on this big soul searching trip."

Originally, the Los Angeles native was going to move back to her hometown to do makeup and find special effects makeup work, but ended up not going. She instead applied for a cutting apprenticeship at the Vidal Sassoon Salon in Scottsdale and got the job.

"I figured that if I was going to do hair, I wanted to be the best, and Sassoon, in my very honest opinion, is the best."

Novoa's own hair history tells the story of a woman who is perfect for such a position.

When Novoa was in high school, she used to compete in little hair competitions put on by her friend. He wanted to see who received the most compliments on their hairstyles throughout the day. "I'd always win, but he ended up being a hairdresser, too. Ever since then, hair's been a big thing for me. You wear it every day on your head, so it's important."

It comes as a shock to most she tells now, but Novoa had dreadlocks for eight years. "That was a big thing I was known for," she says. "I've had what we call a "girl fade," and I've had every single color and any length. I love experimenting with hair. I feel like that's something I've always liked doing."

As her hair has changed, her style and fashion sense has remained constant.

"I've joked around that I go for a 'gothic chola'-type look," Novoa says. "I wear a lot of black -- all textures of black. I have to wear black for work, but I've always loved the color. Every once in a while I'll throw in a splash of color, but I usually have a color in my hair so it gives me more dimension. I'm also obsessed with winged sleeves on shirts and dresses. I love wings."

All other aspects of Novoa's aesthetic life are filled with beauty. Music is one of Novoa's biggest inspirations. She's an art collector and likes to decorate houses. She has a deep appreciation for the finer things in life. "I like pretty things. I want to feel awesome and I want other people to feel awesome when they come into my space."

When she meets someone new, Novoa knows she's pretty much obliged to check out their style so she knows what kind of haircut she would give them. Part of her job is keeping an eye out for potential hair models and people who have a head for great hair.

The Salvadoran "gothic chola" has lived in Phoenix for 15 years now, and calls the Valley her home. Lucky for us, there's not doubt she'll continue to make it a more beautiful place to live, one head at a time.

What are you wearing? A vintage thrift store find

What was the last thing you bought? I bought a scarf from Johnny Was.

Where do you usually shop? Everywhere and anywhere I can get a deal and find one-of-a-kind pieces. Also, a good place to find good staples, as cheesy as it sounds, is H&M.

Name five items every woman should have in her closet. 1) Sequins 2) Leather 3) Lace 4) Burnout velvet 5) Boots

What's one fashion trend you can't stand? Top-buns... I hate them! They're not edgy to me. You just tie your hair up at the top of your head. It reminds me of a Sumo wrestler, and it's just not cute. It's a big pet peeve.

Give us a childhood memory of you and clothes. I used to always dress up like Madonna. My mom totally helped and had all of these netty things and put a big bow on me and do my makeup and dance around with me to Madonna songs.

What is your one piece of fashion advice for Phoenix? Flip-flops are meant to be kept inside the house or at a pool party.

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