Shawn Lavengood: On Opening the Fresh, New, Salon Rise, Staying Relevant, and Not Taking Shit
This is a series on local style talent, where I will introduce you to some of the most stylish top talent in West Michigan. These creatives, professionals and entrepreneurs are at the top of their respective fields and have put in the blood, sweat and tears to get where they are today. They're dedicated, hard working and most of all, kind, good people. You can find them busting ceilings, re-inventing and re-thinking industries where another name, website or business is just another drop in the bucket, all while managing to help others along the way. They're the workers, the dreamers and the go-getters who are the best at doing what they do, and they do it in style.
I value honesty in people over many other traits. Shawn Lavengood, 36, mother of two, and owner/master stylist of Salon Rise, coming February 2017, is one of the most brutally honest people I know. She tells it how it is, without being cruel. As a very blunt and honest person, myself, the older I get, I realize more and more that there really is an art to balancing high levels of honesty with real, genuine kindness. She is a brilliant stylist with almost a decades worth of experience. Let it be known that her daughters' volleyball teammates refer to her as "hair Jesus." She was born, raised, and currently lives in the West side of Grand Rapids, MI.
Now when you first meet Shawn, you might notice her edgy platinum hair, her kind and expressive eyes, or her contagious laugh, but as you get to know Shawn, you'll realize that she has seen her share of obstacles and that no matter what stands in her way, she is one tough SOB that refuses to be held down.
Believe me when I say that I would be taken seriously in a board room even with a silver mohawk, ripped jeans, and four letter words on a t shirt.
Shawn is a driven, self-sufficient woman, who knows what she wants and goes after it. However, if you look deeper, you'll also see her raw, artistic talent, the admiration she has for those who have pulled themselves up from nothing, and the rock-solid dedication she has to her friends and family. She is truly one of the most unique people I know, and while she is a great friend to chit chat and laugh with, she is also an individual who will inspire you to keep going when you're feeling down and out.
The Woman: "My Word is My Bond"
Shawn, being a mother of two, beautiful, thriving, teenage daughters, a new independent business owner, master stylist, and friend to many, has a lot going on. Whenever I see her, she's got something new happening, whether it be one of her daughters' athletic or musical commitments, ordering the seats or sinks for her new salon, or studying abroad to keep her skills sharp and relevent, this lady has quite the schedule to manage.
On my down time I enjoy being around my friends and family. My hobbies include anything artistic or hair related. I enjoy the growth of Grand Rapids so I love rediscovering the city, especially since I grew up here. I cant get enough of my daughters, they are growing so fast and are amazingly smart, kind, funny girls who keep me young. I am also a total hair nerd so I am always looking for the next big thing and where in the world I will go next for perspective, and education.
With regards to the philosophy behind how she raises her family, she says, "I dedicate myself to being the best I can be in every way in order to set an example and raise my two beautiful and intelligent daughters to strive for the same."
I am a woman who has had some truly horrible things happen in her life, but I regret nothing. I am loyal to a fault. There is intention behind everything I do, and my word is my bond. I genuinely love life, I love to laugh, I think everyone is worth my very best. I still believe in good, and believe it or not, I am still very much that person who looses sleep before an exciting morning. I am loud, I am sarcastic, I am definitely noticeable, but I am a marsh mellow inside. I am looking to get the most out of this crazy ride we call life. And that this is just the beginning for me. I am not going anywhere.
When asked about her role models, Shawn replied, "I do not just look up to one person. I look up to anyone who has turned hardship into success, those that have foresight, and those who are able and willing to sacrifice for the greater good."
The Style: "A Badass, Bohemian Rockstar"
Whenever I do these "meet the maker" type articles, I ask the subject of the post to bring looks and pieces that really portray their own, personal style. When Shawn showed up in this amazing unicorn top, I just about died. I don't think there is a more fitting top out there for her personality, and honestly I love unicorns, so I really want one too now. She truly is a unicorn in her own way. Her style, her talent, and her path to where she is today are all uniquely her own. According to Shawn, the hair industry actually chose her, in a way.
I have always been able to look at hair and see a canvas ready to be touched and changed. I always looked at hair as much more than vanity, it is an expression of oneself, in the best way possible.
...and now for the big announcement!
Shawn is starting a new, life-changing adventure, and opening up her own salon, Salon Rise, in mid to late February 2017 in downtown's West side at 524 Leonard St NW in Grand Rapids, MI, where she will be the sole owner and master stylist.
The main focus at Salon Rise is staying cutting edge, and making elite education the most important factor, enabling us to be up on the newest trends. Every year I plan to take one stylist abroad with me to take part in education to get a more worldly view of the hair and beauty industry. I am a firm believer that in order to remain relevant you must keep learning, and if you think there is nothing else to learn, it is time to find something else to do. I will never stop learning.
The website (coming soon) will be at SalonRise.com and you can reach the salon at (616) 734-4607. There will be three stylists working under her, with potential to grow. There will be some parking in front, and more behind Two Scott's BBQ.
First-time clients can receive a 10% discount off their first visit to Salon Rise if they are Style Logic subscribers!
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The West side of downtown is BOOMING. It originated as a mostly Polish, German, and Irish immigrant neighborhood that established itself as a business district. The area of downtown struggled economically for years, but within the last 2 or 3 years has hit explosive growth commercially. Now days, there is an ever-growing number of retailers, restaurants and technology firms and startups moving their business out to the West side where business is thriving. Just in case you need another reason to head out to Salon Rise, it is literally next door to Two Scott's BBQ, my favorite BBQ joint in the area. Across the street from the salon is Mitten Brewing Company (delicious pizza and craft beer) and Long Road Distillers. If you head a few blocks west, you'll hit Grand Rapids iconic blue bridge with stunning views and walking paths along the Grand River, and if you go a few blocks South and you'll reach one of my favorite, and therefore unpretentious coffee shops in the area, Roots Brew Shop. There's also AM Yoga, the Grand Rapids Cheesecake Company, and Westsider Cafe (get the pancakes - they are life-changing) in the area as well. If you ask me, there couldn't be a better place to open a new business. Where there is good food, business will come.
My advice to anyone in the style industry is stay as true to you as possible. Leave your ego at the door, but never forget your worth. Know that this is not a get rich quick career, but it is worth all the time put in to build your skill. Dues are meant to be paid...period. Surround yourself with those that are of like mind in pursuit of goals and success, but also those who will never expect you to change.
Shawn's style is such a unique combination of typical style types. It reminds me of my 2017 style goal to help people to really identify and bring out their own, personal style, rather than just accepting being grouped into "preppy" or "edgy" or "classic" because truly, those are only the building blocks that comprise somebody's individual style identity. This is no news to Shawn though. I honestly can't see her conforming to much just for conformity's sake. She really is a trailblazer who has been and will continue to make quite a difference in her industry. With a self-described style of "effortless badassery," you know, not just by looking at her, that her style is one to be reckoned with.
The Story: "Doing it For the Right Reasons"
I first met Shawn because I was having trouble finding anyone to turn my black, Asian, hair blonde. I tried a couple of the local boutiques and they were too scared to do it in one session, even after I told them my hair is super strong and can handle the bleaching. I realize that you can't turn black hair perfectly blonde in one session, but what I was asking for was do-able. Anyhow, the stylist I was using before Shawn had opened up his own shop, in my time between my cuts, so I called up his new place and since it was last minute, he couldn't fit me in. However, when I pleaded with the lady on the phone, "I'm looking for somebody...anybody... who can dye Asian hair blonde. Not brown, orange, or red, but actually blonde," she said, "we have just the person - Shawn actually just got finished turning an Asian client of our's hair platinum." Sign. Me. Up. This is where Shawn and my story begins.
When I went in for my appointment, I was actually expecting a guy because of the name, but Shawn, a super edgy, very stylish lady with a platinum pixie walks out and shakes my hand. Throughout that visit, we chatted up a storm, and I had such a great time, that I actually switched from my previous stylist to Shawn. They are both very talented stylists, but I really just enjoyed Shawn's company so much!
I love what I do. This summer I had full filled one of the biggest dreams of mine and that was to study at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in London. I have traveled to far off places, and shared in a melting pot of races, religions, and what we do is universally spoken. The next travel destination for me is to study at the Sassoon Academy in either Toronto, or Germany. There is nothing like willingly stepping outside your comfort zone, and landing in a place where you are again made to feel small, in the best way possible. I have caught the travel bug, and I don't see that part slowing down.
Since that first appointment I had with Shawn, we've gotten to know each other quite a bit. I remember how my visits to her during our struggles with infertility cheered me up, and how when we finally did get pregnant and I blew up like the Goodyear Blimp, she still made me feel beautiful. I could see from early on that Shawn was not the type of woman who was made to work for other people, she's an entrepreneur at heart, and as independent as they come. Many people just say that they don't care what others think, but I very much believe that she gives zero fucks what people think of her. She tries her hardest to keep those she cares about, but doesn't let the opinions of others slow her down a bit. When she gets hit with something bad, she takes it honestly and objectively, like a grown-ass woman, and gets right back in the ring.
This industry has helped me raise two beautiful children and to keep a beautiful home with their father. I get to create beauty and give people the ability to see their beauty inside and bring it to life for them to be able to see and touch. I have put hair back on the heads of woman that were fighting cancer, both have passed on, but passed on as warriors. Just know that what we do as stylists is extremely important, and taking it serious and doing it for the right reasons, gives it validity.
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