It’s 9:00 on a Monday morning. Wendy Daly, a successful, multi-location owner of the W. Daly Salons in Georgia, looks out at her team in a staff meeting, takes a deep breath, and shares her story.
To the young hairdressers perched around the room, she tells her personal history, about the night as a scared 16-year-old, she finally packed a bag, called the police and fled her home to escape violent conditions.
She tells them how her aunt found her at a friend’s house, offered her a place to stay and a loan to go to cosmetology school. Being a hairdresser had been a dream of Wendy’s since she was a little girl, and at 16, she wasn’t about to let it slip away.
Wendy remembers thinking to herself that’s when her life really started. “But actually,” she corrects herself, “if I’m being honest, it was the year before.”
Wendy’s true personal awakening occurred at the age of 15, when things at home were at their worst. It was during this tumultuous year that Wendy went to a professional hairdresser for the first time.
“When she finished,” recalls Wendy, to those young hairdressers around her, “it was the first time in my life I saw myself as pretty. I still remember that feeling and wanted to help others feel like that. The seed of my dream was planted that day.”
So after moving in with her aunt the following year, Wendy worked days and nights to pay her back for cosmetology school, to get her GED and to buy a car. Slowly, those dreams she’d held close were becoming possible.
She tells her team, “I was passionate about the beauty industry because I realized I could fulfill my artistic drive. I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else financially. AND I knew the power it had to change the lives of the people that sat in my chair.”
She pauses. “That’s the reason I opened these salons. My deep desire was to create a safe place, a nurturing environment and a place people can count on to build them up.”
“My early years were very challenging but they taught me how to look forward to the future I wanted, how to be strong, and how to be persistent.” She encourages her team to do the same to live the life of their dreams.
When we met Wendy, this was all but a possibility in the future. She was about 10 years into her career, working at another salon, yet consistently showing up for the advanced technical education classes put on by Neill Corporation, Paris Parker’s parent company.
She tells us about that part of her life. “I saw they were doing something different. In those classes, I was exposed to many different cutting edge trainers including discovering Sassoon, Van Micheal and many others. It was edgy, and it was out of my league… I was a small town girl, but I wanted to be a part of that.”
Eventually, Edwin Neill, owner of Paris Parker at the time, couldn’t overlook her tenacity and passion, and he offered her a job.
Wendy worked for us for about five years at Paris Parker. We learned a lot from her about what a driven stylist needs to succeed. (And now that she’s a salon owner, we’re still learning from her!) But most importantly, she’s taught us that we each have the power to create what we want in life—and that when we change our thoughts, we change our life.
“They invested in me in a way they did not have to,” recalls Wendy of her days at Paris Parker. “I was exposed to a new kind of thinking—challenging my own thinking is what I learned to do there.”
She continues, “When you’re young and learning to fulfill your potential, you don’t always see things clearly. But I am telling you, had I not had that pivotal time at Paris Parker, there is no way I‘d be able to do what I am doing now.”
Eventually Wendy left Paris Parker to move to Georgia for love. “When I decided to move, Debra (Neill) told me, ‘You’ve been taught everything you need to know. Now what are you going to do with it?’”
“That always stuck with me,” says Wendy, “That idea that life was a gift, and I had a responsibility to use what I’d been given.”
“I’ve had Debra in my head all that time, and that eventually drove me to open two Aveda Lifestyle locations (an elite classification, in the beauty industry). My biggest hope is I can see potential in the lives of others, the way they did in mine.”
Wendy pauses in a thoughtful moment. “Life is a game you get to play in, and it’s up to you how good a player you are,” she says. “You can be as great as you are brave.”
Thank you, Wendy, for the reminder.