by BRITTANY HALL
The importance of self-care cannot be taught, it can only be experienced. We’ve all heard the saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, and know that a day of treating ourselves or recharging our batteries allows us to maintain a sweet balance between burnouts and functioning like a well-oiled machine. While I probably could have chosen a different set of words, this one is for the guys, so it was only fitting. In a society where men are expected to work long hours outside in the elements and sacrifice vacation days, it's practically impossible for their minds and bodies to receive the care it needs. Men deserve to be pampered too, and a new small business in town is dedicating their services to the hardworking, blue-collar men in our lives who have earned themselves a self-care type of day.
In 2014, Swainsboro local Kayla Vaughn, found herself at a crossroads. Faced with some major life decisions she decided to embark on a path that had never really crossed her mind before. Naturally a people person, she knew in her heart that she was meant to help others but wasn’t exactly sure how to apply this skill into finding the career that was fit for her. After high school she began taking classes at East Georgia State College where she studied Art. However, it wasn’t until she obtained a job working in the Walgreens Pharmacy, that she truly accepted it as her calling.
“After I started working in the pharmacy full time it led me to wonder whether nursing might be a field I would enjoy. So, I swapped majors and hated it.” She explained through a laugh, “Art was my passion, so after looking into what Southeastern Tech had to offer, I made the decision to join the cosmetology program under the great Mrs. Peggy Braswell.”
Vaughn graduated from Southeastern Tech in December of 2016 and immediately jumped into her career. She began a job at Ashley and Co., a salon located in downtown Swainsboro. Surrounded by helpful coworkers and a great work environment, Vaughn was excited for this brand-new journey in her life to begin. However, the excitement faded a bit when the unexpected difficulties and struggles of being a first-year stylist began to sink in.
“Unfortunately, I was not making enough to support myself and my 3 boys so after about a year I chose to seek out employment at sport clips. I worked at sport clips for 5 years where I helped to manage the shop. This included doing reports, ordering, scheduling, and other business-related things, but it also provided the opportunity to develop and perfect my craft for men’s classic styles and for beard sculpting.” Vaughn said. It was during this time that she discovered her artistry and title, both of which set her apart in the crowd. After dedicating some time to Sports Clips, she found her way back home where she’s now the owner of her own Barber Shop, Southern Gents. Her technique of beard sculpting and providing a spa-like treatment for each of her clients makes her one in a million, and her incredibly talented team, Vanessa Grindler and K-Lee Blount, also add stars to their awesome atmosphere:
“Southern Gents Salon is not your basic shop. We cater more to our male clientele while also including the luxury feel of a spa.” She began to explain, “We will offer hot towel treatments upon request with your haircut. These treatments are great for cleansing pores while providing relaxation to the muscles within your face. We will also offer scalp detox treatments which work wonders for hard hat guys, or those with severe dandruff or eczema. We also have face serums each formulated for your specific need whether it be acne control, anti-aging, or dry skin, and activated charcoal masks and soaps.”
In addition to these quality products, Vaughn has partnered with Ginger Glover at Buoy Black Leathercraft to provide her clients with custom leather work, including custom made hats, wallets, and keychains. The team at Southern Gents also take pride in being skilled and up to date on modern and constantly changing styles for boys, men and women and even offer ‘quiet cuts’ every Tuesday from 2-4, to cater to their auditory sensitive clients.
“What I love most about this job isn't even cutting hair, even though I’m passionate about men’s styles and beard sculpting. The thing I love the most about it all is the act of providing that service and for that 30 to 45 minutes they are the highlight of the session, and all my attention is theirs.” Vaughn said with a smile before continuing, “I’m excited to start this journey, and I am extremely humbled by the support my current clients and the community have shown me. I can't wait to see what the future holds for Southern Gents Salon. I am also extremely excited to create new and lasting client relationships within the community.”
Vaughn also shared that she’s been blessed to have such a strong support system throughout this journey. She quickly adds that without that support and advice, she wouldn't have ever made it this far. These loving people include her parents, Brenda and Pete Sutherland, her sister Kelly Logan, her three sons; Jacob, Kayden, and Eli, and of course, her husband, Jay Vaughn, who has even had a hand in making Southern Gents the welcoming place that it is today.
“When we were consulting each other about this next chapter for us his exact words were, ‘If anyone can build an empire from the ground up it's you.’ A week prior to opening, the boys and I went by to visit him, and he surprised me with a big, beautiful custom-made sign you can find displayed directly across from my working station.” She explained.
Along with these amazing people, Vaughn is also ecstatic to get to work alongside her talented team of hair experts; Vanessa Grindler and K-lee Blount. Grindler is a master cosmetologist who has 25 years of experience. She specializes in precision cuts, colors, perms, and facial waxing services while always staying up to date with the latest, trending colors and hairstyles. Vanessa is a long-time resident of Emanuel County and has three outstanding sons who are the light of her life. Blount has been working in her profession for 8 years, making her a master at what she offers as well. She specializes in haircuts and styles for men, women and kids, beard sculpting, waxing, highlights, and color. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her 4-year-old daughter and long walks during the mornings and afternoons.
“K-Lee and Vanessa have been super supportive as well and have been excited about all the new changes. They are both so encouraging and have helped bring Southern Gents Salon to life through their own creative ideas. They are excellent stylists, and we blend so well. I can’t wait to get to work with them.” Vaughn shared in excitement.
Before our interview ended, Vaughn shared that chasing down her dreams wasn’t an easy path to follow because of the many struggles she faced along the way. However, she added a sweet sentiment that God has been with her through every step and that without trusting in his love and guidance, she would be lost today:
“Prior to venturing into this business journey, I reached out to K-Lee and let her know my plans and she was immediately excited to venture along with me. This was my first sign of God saying, ‘I got you’. Then after I started looking into locations, I noticed my car payment that normally auto drafts did not. I was a little worried, so I went to the bank to see why this happened and my loan officer instructed me that I didn’t have a car payment this month. What are the odds that the exact month that I'm starting this business venture is also the same month that I had overpaid on my car payment? It was just another ‘I got you” from above. To add to the many blessings I have received, my other stylist Vanessa, was the blessing that came with the deal and equally just as much a gift to me.” Vaughn said before concluding, “A while back my husband Jay and I were speaking about the struggles that we've overcome and how we've grown so much in the last few years and the blessings we are beginning to see surface because of our faithfulness. From that discussion, he shared this scripture with me that has become a part of my testimony throughout this journey:
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Southern Gents Salon celebrated their grand opening Saturday, September 10, with a ribbon cutting. The all-day event began at 10:00 a.m. and included free haircut giveaways, product giveaways, and goodie bags for all guests that were in attendance. An extra special treat that was also a part of Saturdays celebration was the authentic Mexican food truck Tacos La Chona, who served up mouthwatering street tacos for Southern Gents guests.
Southern Gents Salon is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can find their services, prices and even book with them through the links that are provided on their Facebook Page, Southern Gents Salon LLC.
For Kayla Vaughn visit: https://southerngentssalon-kaylavaughn.youcanbook.me
For Vanessa Grindler visit: https://southerngentssalon-vanessagrindler.youcanbook.me
For K-Lee Blount visit: https://southerngentssalon-k-leeblount.youcanbook.me
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