The Story of Us Part I: Last Chances

In 2014 Salon Red celebrates its 15th Anniversary.  In that time, it has grown from a tiny unheard of salon tucked into a back corner of an Atlanta neighborhood, to a six location, thriving pillar of the community.   Their selection as one of the 2014 Salon Today Top 200 Salons has solidified the Salon Red brand as one of the most respected in the country. No small feat for a company that has had to weather some of the most difficult economic times in a generation.  Ultimately the love, sweat, and tears put in by its staff  have defined the brand, and fostered the deep connections it shares with the guests who have kept Salon Red running for  fifteen years.  I invite you now to take a peak behind the curtain with our new monthly feature: The Story of Us. A sit down with owner, Jessica Soler, as she shares how a unexpected dream became Salon Red.  This month we’re exploring how Jessica came to the beauty industry and how Salon Red was born. 

The answer to how I became a stylist and eventually the owner of my own salon isn’t a pretty one.

For a long time I was fairly lost in life.  I didn’t go to college. I had no direction. Finally after years of wrong turns and getting into trouble I found myself standing in the last place I thought I would be: a courtroom.  There I was in those ugly orange suits they make you wear. I’d managed to curl my hair using pages from a book the night before.  I was young and scared of what was about to happen.  There was this judge..I couldn’t stand him….this judge was sitting there telling me I was on my last chance. He told me I had one year to straighten out my life or I was going to spend the rest of my sentence in a jail cell.

I remember crying as I went home. I was just SO angry. Who was this old guy trying to tell me what to do with my life? Faced with making a decision on what to do I sat down with my mother and did the only thing I could think of. We opened the phone book and looked up any kind of degree or certification I could get within a year.

I had three options: Dental Assistant. Nail Technician. Or Hairstylist.

The next day my mother drove me to a school in Marietta called Roffler Hair School. We went in, I signed up, and the day after that I was walking into my first class. Immediately I knew it was what I was supposed to do. It just felt right. Being there, I had flashbacks of all the times in my life when I had done hair.  As a cheerleader in school I’d done all the braids and curls for my teammates at competitions. I did the hair and make-up for our high school plays. I’d even done the styles for the marching band and color guard. It was then that I realized I’d been doing hair my whole life. I knew then I was in the right place. I had passion for it. In that moment I fell in love.

Looking back on that year I feel so differently now. If it hadn’t been for that judge forcing me to make a choice in that moment….. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to change.  I’ve found what I was meant to be doing all along. I wake up in the morning excited to head to work. Most days, I don’t even feel like I’m working at all. Yes, I help people feel beautiful. I am so grateful for that, but even more so I am grateful that Salon Red has become more than a salon. Every day I have the opportunity to help my employees and guests grow in their own lives. I can help heal others.  Looking back on everything that led to where Salon Red is at now,  I remember all the heartache and tears that got us here. But I can also look back and see all the memories we made. The love we have shared and the hearts we have helped to heal.  I look back at all of that, and I am humbled to have found the place I was meant to be.

About a year after that fateful day in the courtroom, the time came where I found myself standing in front of that same judge again. That judge that I had been so angry at. By then I was getting married and I was there to get permission to travel for my honeymoon. In that year, I’d graduated beauty school. I was starting my family. I had a career. I had a life.

 Standing there I found myself crying again. Except this time it wasn’t in anger.

All I could say was “Thank you”

Join us next month for Part 2 where Jessica will be sharing the story of the very first days of Salon Red and how learning to leap taught her to be the leader she became.