Recently, when I popped in to New Beginnings Salon and Trading Post to make my Athens Now deliveries, I took one look at what had already been accomplished by the new owners and couldn’t help but exclaim, “Oh, I love it!” Every time I have gone in, there is something new to enjoy, whether it is the little nook where the kids can play in their own “kitchen,” a room that showcases a lovingly restored piece of furniture, or humorous light fixtures made out of buckets, mattress springs, and an old “bonnet” style hair dryer like my mom used to have back in the ‘60s. The finished product is a comfy, trendy display of repurposed items, antiques, snazzy décor, and a warm, professional place where you can get pampered from head to toe. Most people would not think of putting a trading post in with a salon, but the combination most definitely works, and this brainchild is the result of the loving labor of salon owner Cindy McCurry, and trading post owner Toni Lea. “We have had a lot of help and support from our family and friends, especially Chris Lea,” (Toni’s husband).
As is the case with many Athens Now clients, these gals really had no intention of starting a business, but just knew it was something they were supposed to do, and also that now was the time. Cindy has been a hairdresser in this particular location, (which is in “The Village” on Kelli Drive off of Hwy 72 in Athens) for a good while. She has a total of 27 years under her belt as a hair dresser. Toni was a neighbor of Cindy’s and is her dear friend, with a background in the mortgage business. When the former Escape Salon became available, they rolled up their sleeves and began to personalize the place. There is new paint, wall art, a door that lets in much more light, soft, comfy furniture and gourmet coffee, just for starters. In addition, seeing as both moms are facing the fact that their youngest ones are getting ready to leave the nest, this has been a “prayer-borne next step” on their journey.
Add to the mix Debbie Lambert, (who has cut my hair when I have donated it for cancer patients, and from whom I received a heavenly facial massage that I will never forget,) and you have a place where there are hard working people, along with a lot of laughter, love, and expertise. “We are looking for more stylists,” Cindy said. She then added, “We want people who are willing to pitch in and help out their fellow stylists when they need it, and we all get there sometimes, whether it’s need help cleaning out a color bowl or sweeping up the shop.” If you are a stylist that loves people, is creative, and enjoys having your fellow shop mates and customers be like “framily,” (the blend of friends and family,) New Beginnings just might be the place for you to hang out your hairdressing shingle.
Cindy told me of a compliment that they had recently received from a new customer that expresses the New Beginnings philosophy, whether it’s from the Salon side of the house, or the Trading Post, because as far as she and Toni are concerned, it’s all one purpose under one big roof. As the woman was heading out the door, she turned said to them, “When you leave here, you feel like someone cares about you.” That is what they want to give to the community, and as joint venture partners, the story of how they got here is both dear and funny. In a word, they each felt like they “were dragged by God across the Tennessee/Alabama line,” experienced that special “vibe” or energy that makes Athens what it is, watched the doors open, and walked through them in obedience to their Boss, big B. It’s a familiar tale with Athens Now customers, one I have the joy and privilege of telling often, and this is their individualized version of it.
“We think of ourselves as being ‘zany re-purposers,’ and we decided we would find stuff, then do what we love as a business,” said Cindy. Zany is tough to do and still stay classy, but Toni and Cindy have found a way to make it happen in a manner that is utterly delightful. They are also packed full of ideas for more, and I am looking forward to what they come up with next. Listening to their plans is both entertaining and energizing, and besides all things whimsical, they will have a vintage clothing line, jewelry, scarves, serious antiques and garden items.
I have put in an order for a plant stand that they are going to paint for me to use in my bedroom window, and when I mentioned what I was wanting to do, immediately they “were all over it.” They had the right colors at a more than fair price, both for the item as well as their labor. What impressed me was the sparkle in their eyes over their creative options, and how they were going to make it happen. Here I was, trying to be low key about a custom item that truly has no deadline, especially seeing as they are putting in long hours in order to get ready for their Open House, and they are just jazzed about making this simple wooden plant stand look perfect near my bedroom window. I like how these gals get pleasure out of giving outstanding customer care!
Speaking of Open Houses, the official Christmas New Beginnings Salon and Trading Post Grand Opening is on Saturday, December 20th, from 10 til 3, and there will be refreshments served. The address is 1221 Kelli Drive # C in Athens, near Clark’s and the Cracker Barrel restaurants. I have no doubt if you come, you’ll see what I am talking about, and will come back for more. I know I will.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner