Eva Lucrecia Olivas is the owner of Eva’s Salon in downtown Alpine. She was born in Ojinaga, Mexico, and came to the United States in 1996. She came with two small children to join her husband, who was already in the U.S. Olivas had a small vocabulary of English, she said, but wanted to be able to communicate, not just identify words like ‘table’, ‘chair’, etc. She enrolled at Sul Ross University in an ESL class and then with her background in business from Mexico, she enrolled in the GED program. After that, she went to beauty school. Olivas was very active with her children and they were a key motivating factor for her. “They learned English in like six months,” she said. “I wanted to be able to keep up with them. It was a must, a need,” she said.

After beauty school, Olivas worked at a local salon, and soon after got a job at the salon where she is now. A short time later, the owner of the salon left along with everyone else and Eva took over and named it ‘Eva’s Salon.’ Olivas said a strength of her beauty salon is the organic chemicals she has used for some time. “I want to protect my customer’s head and my lungs,” she said.

Olivas is full of sunshine and energy, and in the years since coming to the United States has been very active in the community and the Catholic Church. She was president of Lupanas for three years, she is a former Chamber of Commerce member, she danced with the Mystic Gitanas for eight years, she coordinated a trip for 10 church members to go to Mexico City…. The list of her accomplishments is long.

The youngest of five children, one of Olivas’s earliest memories is playing outside as a child. “We would play outside every night after homework. We were always running, playing games. We were healthy, not sitting around watching TV,” she said. When it was time to come in, the mother would call out ‘ Eva, Maria, Jose.’ “That was the cell phone in those days,” Eva says.

Another early memory is dancing. Olivas likes to say that she was dancing before she was walking. Recently a former elementary school classmate sent her a picture of the two of them dancing the Mexican hat dance, him behind her with a rope. “I still like dancing,” she said, and is still dancing, now in the Catholic Church. Two years ago, a group was started at the Our Lady of Peace Catholic church in Alpine called Matachines Danza Guadalupe, a group that evangelizes through dancing, of which Olivas is the leader/coordinator. December 12 is their main celebration. “It’s an interesting ministry,” she said. “Everything has a meaning. The drums are Mary’s heartbeat (for example). It’s very mystical and passionate.” It’s the first time in the history of the 100-year-old church that they have had Matachines, Olivas said, and Father Beto Lopez is a big supporter.

One thing that really made an impact on Olivas is that the United States celebrates Cinco de Mayo. “It’s just a battle, not that important in Mexico,” she said. “So I came here and it’s celebrated and commercialized.” Now she looks forward to it.

If she could live in any time period, Olivas would live in the days of fancy hats, poofy dresses and umbrellas. “It was so elegant and fancy how women dressed back then. Now it’s so sloppy and anything goes.”

Olivas loves movies and can’t really pick a favorite – she likes them all and has fond memories of all the many cartoons and Harry Potter she watched with her children.

She loves living in Alpine and loves the friendliness of the people. “It feels like a home,” she said. People always call out greetings wherever they are – grocery store, post office. “’Hi Eva,’ they’re so happy to see me.” She considers Alpine to be 99% safe and friendly. Gossip is her least favorite thing, “It runs like dynamite,” she said. Her favorite book is the Bible, and she reads it every day.

One of Olivas’s life philosophies is to treat people the way you want to be treated. “It always works for me,” she said. “Always smile. When I didn’t know English, I would smile, and people would be nice to me.”

One vision she has of the future is travelling with her husband. They bought a popup camper last summer to use on trips and to go to San Antonio to visit their granddaughter. “If I could, I’d see her (my granddaughter) every weekend, I’d be living there already,” she said. “I will travel but I will keep coming home to Alpine.”

Anyone who’s driven down Holland or walked past her salon can see that Olivas’s favorite flower is the sunflower. It’s been her favorite “for as long as I can remember,” she said. “It’s colorful, cheerful, and yellow, which is my favorite color.” The sunflower is the perfect symbol for her as she brings out the best in everyone she connects with. “People come to the salon and say “Eva, make me beautiful,” and I say, I just enhance God’s beauty because everyone is beautiful.”

by Rani Birchfield