Family of Pulse victim reopens hair salon to honor his life
The family of Pulse victim Juan Rivera Velazquez reopened his hair salon in a new location Thursday.
His sister, Jessica Silva, said that she looked at more than 10 locations to find the one her brother would have liked most. Silva has no experience running a salon, but said she is determined to keep his memory alive.
"I don't have him, but I can feel him here. (The salon was) his passion, now it's mine," Silva said.
Silva said that after Velazquez was killed inside Pulse, she knew she wanted to take the responsibility of running his business.
Velazquez's mother worked alongside him at the hair salon, so a new location was a must because of the memories.
"At the beginning, my mom said that she was not going to open it," Silva said. "Imagine you working every single day and looking back and your son is not there. Or expecting the back door to be open because he is going to come, and that's not going to happen."
The re-grand opening of D'Magazine by Juan P has been months in the making. The family has a ribbon on his chair, his picture in a frame and his loyal customers all showed up to honor Velazquez and his boyfriend Luis Conde. Conde helped Velazquez run the salon for a decade before he was also killed inside Pulse.
"It hurts. It hurts not being able to give him a kiss. To ask him, 'do you like what I'm doing? Do you think this is right? Do you think I should put this table here over there?' And not having him is difficult," Silva said.
Silva said she's worn her Pulse memorial bracelets for almost six months. She also said that she has made it her mission to accomplish every goal her brother made.
"I'm not stopping. Every single thing that I know he wanted to do, I'm doing it," Silva said. "He's proud. He's happy. He's here."
Thursday is also Luis Conde's 40th birthday, making the day even more special.
Velazquez's cousin recently moved to Florida from Puerto Rico to help the family run the hair salon into its next chapter.
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