“Okay, mom, now go outside and show the neighbors how I did your hair and makeup!”my excited 9 year old self would say. I would spend hours doing her hair, or my dolls hair. I would even cut and layer my brand new barbies hair, into a cute pixie cut style. When I learned how to french braid, word quickly spread on our street, and I was doing prom hair before I was even in high school. Some things are just meant to be I guess. But the twists and turns are something you never expect.
I went to Beauty School a few months after graduating high school, and passed my State Boards in January of 1989. In the Fall of 1995 my husband and I moved to a small( at the time 1,500 people) town in Wisconsin. I was pregnant with twin boys and had 2 older sons ages 2 and 4. After having the twins, going back to work was the last thing on my mind, but 6 weeks later, there I was at the local salon
I worked 2 nights a week and Saturdays. It was nice to get out and meet the people I was living among. Then the owner of the salon, sold the business to a young woman, and everything in my life changed.
I worked briefly for the new owner, but it was clear, it was too much for her to handle. So, I quit. One day I received a phone call from the building owner, telling me she was worried about the salon. That she could hear the phone ringing off the hook, no one to answer it. She was basically pleading with me to go back and help the new owner. Now, I think she was more concerned with getting her rent money, but then I thought she was concerned about the young girl. So, I called the owner, and said I wanted to come back.
Within weeks, she came to me, telling me she was selling the business(not the building, which was owned by someone else, just the business.) and was I interested in buying it. What? I thought there is no way, without even knowing what she was selling it for, that we could afford it. When she told me she wanted 20 grand I was even more convinced we couldn’t. I expressed this to her, that we had 4 young sons under 5 and I had been recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and financially there was just no way. “My grandpa would be willing to to do a person to person loan with you” she said.
Oh I believe there are, angels among us
Sent down to us, from somewhere up above
They come to you and me, in our darkest hours
To show us how to live, to teach us how to give
To guide us with the light of love.
I excitedly told my husband of this opportunity, but the large sum of money was weighing heavy on my mind. We decided to sit down with him. We met with him at the salon. No lawyers, just us. “I will sell the salon to you, just make payments to me each month.” he said. “I honestly don’t know how much I can give you, it’s going to take me a while to get this salon busy again.” I shyly told him. We agreed on $300 a month, if I could afford it, and if I couldn’t to send what I could. My husband and I agreed. And with a handshake, yes a handshake, we sealed the deal. No paperwork, no contract. I had just met this man, and my fate, my families fate was in his hands.
On September 1st 1998, I opened the salon under my name.I was scared to death. But we never missed a payment. Not one, for almost 2 years. Then one day I got word that he had passed away, and panic seared through my body. I had zero proof of my “contract” with him. All I could think of was that someone was going to come take all I had worked so hard away from me.I called my husband in a frantic state. What were we going to do.A few days later in the mail, we received a letter from a lawyer. I knew it, here it comes, they are going to ask for the rest of the money or they are taking it all back, I was convinced. I have never been so wrong in my whole life.
When this kind old man found out he was ill, he put me in his will. Yes, the man I had met once, had named me in his will.He was forgiving the remainder of the loan, and returning the payments I had made.He had changed my life, and he didn’t even know it.It was a lesson in following your heart, your gut and your dreams. And in believing in Angels.
Eventually, we were able to purchase the building. I never had to worry again, that someone or something could take my dream away. I have never forgotten this amazing act of kindness, and I try to repay it often. I keep my prices low( probably too low!), I donate as much and as often as I can to charities and organizations. I have hosted fundraisers for many groups, and have held cut a thons with all proceeds going to charity. But it will never equal the charity that was heaped upon me and my family, by a man who knew nothing of me but my name. He was willing to give this young, married woman a chance. And in his darkest hour he didn’t forget about me. So, I will never forget what a blessing his generosity has been on my family.
On September 1st, it will be 18 years that I have been in business. In this small town salon, I have made many memories and even more friends. I have laughed and cried with customers who have turned into confidants,I have watched young girls grow up before my eyes, doing their hair for their first prom and then their wedding. It has been a safe place for my sons and all their friends, where they spent hours having “SalonTalk.” I have watched 3 separate receptionists go on to become hairdressers themselves. I have learned so much from so many of my older customers, who became the grandparents I never had. And it was all because of a handshake and a promise.