Tatiana Mutu at a model competition in Boston
Tatiana Mutu at a model competition in Boston

Six years ago, Tatiana Mutu, 34, immigrated to Phoenix with her Moldovan family and started a completely new life.

It was after the economic crisis of the Republic of Moldova, which still causes crowds of people still leave their country, among the poorest in Europe.

As a young professional in her country, she decided to give up her job working as a psychologist and teacher at a high school in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.

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“First, we thought about the future of our two children and family,” Mutu said. “And I am happy about my decision, because America is the dream of many of those who want to have a career.”

It was a challenging beginning for Mutu and her family to come to Arizona, where they barely knew anyone. For the first two years, they had to survive with food bank support.

She gave up the master’s and doctorate she’d earned in Moldova, but she says that it was worth it because she embraced a totally new career.

“Being in America, I have been changed a lot, starting with the way I think,” she said. “I became more positive, I just set more goals in life. Being home, I was praying God to have some food on the table. Here we work a lot, but we pray more how to succeed in life.”

For the last three years, since graduating from a local beauty school, Mutu has been employed at a hair salon in Scottsdale.

She was happy to get her hairdresser’s license.

“I always liked arts and creativity,” said Mutu, saying she loved to draw sketches. “It was a hobby and I decided to get a license in beauty style. Now I feel very happy and I love my clients.”

Many Arizona businesses recruit in schools; that’s there where Julie Schumacher, owner of Rumors Salon in Scottsdale, met Mutu. Out of 45 employees at the salon, nine come from various other countries, especially in Europe and South America.

“She was very determined and focused, she was very enthusiastic and energetic,” Schumacher said of Mutu. “I just loved her energy so much. She went to a training program and she has been incredibly successful. Now she is educating other employees with one of our manufacturers’ style company.”

Now Mutu is getting training from the product manufacturers and training other stylists.

Immigrants dream about doing business in the U.S.

According to the Schumacher, international employees bring lots of esthetics when it comes to hair, and Americans like to have Europeans around, because they are trained differently when it comes to style.

Tatiana Mutu and her family in Phoenix, Arizona
Tatiana Mutu and her family in Phoenix, Arizona

Mutu finds Americans very creative people who care about business development. “Our owner was very supportive to get to various fashion events,” Mutu said. Last year, she was in Dallas at the Sebastian Professional What’s Next Awards hair-styling completion and was among the finalists.

“Since our fashion changes, the products that we work with change, too, so Tatiana works with an Australian manufacturer,” said Schumacher.

It was a great experience for the young Moldovan to pursue such advanced training.

“Tatiana and another Romanian colleague are hardworking and they are so eager to learn new things,” said Brandy, a coworker. “They bring lots of good energy; she has a classic elegance to her style and is good to bring back the beauty in hairdressing.”

Healthcare benefits a challenge in new business

Schumacher would like to offer her employees healthcare benefits, but finds it difficult and wonders if it may become more so after the 2016 elections.

“We are worried what is going to happen after elections,” she said. “It is a bit scary but right after it, we will be able to figure out a decision in terms of offering health benefits.”

Even though the salaries are much better than in Moldova, Mutu and her family find it difficult to pay for their health insurance in the U.S.

“When we first moved here, Arizona authorities offered us food support, emergency health insurance, but that was only temporarily,” said Mutu.

Her husband works as a truck driver, delivering products to Canada. Mutu says the family income is too low to pay for insurance, and too high to get government assistance.

“Medical services in USA are very excellent, but very expensive and we cannot afford it,” she said. “We rather try to stay healthy and eat good food, than paying $500 each month for an insurance that you may not use it in the future.”

Mutu also finds that in the U.S., the low-income families get more helped from the government than they do in Moldova, where more poor people live in the country.