Hair stylist Naudia Baca styles a customer, who is all smiles. Photo by Russell Huffman.

Fueled by a desire to run her own business, the El Defensor Chieftain Reader’s Choice for Best Barber/Hair Stylist is Naudia Baca, who has been cutting and styling hair for the past 13 years. She’s established a large and loyal customer base.

“I’m overwhelmed, and I’m very grateful to be chosen,” Baca said.

The 2004 Socorro High School graduate fought back tear as she explained how her customers feel like family to her while joking that she’s a bit of a social therapist.

“People tell their hair stylist their secrets,” Baca joked.

Cutting and styling hair is a natural skill for Baca, who was always called upon by family members when she was younger to help with their hair.

“My grandma has so many grandkids, and we were all together all the time. And I would braid their hair and comb their hair when we were kids,” Baca said

After graduating from high school, Baca attended Olympian University in Albuquerque and got her cosmetology degree before returning to her hometown.

Baca started working for Delores Czoznik, who helped her improve her hair-cutting skills and develop a sense of making sure family comes first.

“I worked with Dolores, and I bought her business from her. She’s been doing hair for 50 years, and she told me don’t choose your work over your family because you’re going to regret it later,” Baca said.

Now it’s Delores, who “works” for Baca, who is currently taking maternity leave after having her fourth child.

Baca is expecting to be off for the next month, but if you’d like to give our Reader’s Choice for best hairstylist/barber a try, her number is 575-517-7559. Naudia’s Hair and Nail Shop is located at 915 N. California St. Suite E in Socorro.