Talking Shop with Danea Johnson, owner of Concepts Styling Salon in Cape Girardeau

Monday, September 14, 2009
Danea Johnson is owner of Concepts Styling Salon in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

New York Fashion Week kicked off Sept. 10, and among the stylists attending the eight-day event was Danea Johnson, owner of Concepts Styling Salon in Cape Girardeau. A native of Cape Girardeau, Johnson and her husband, Mike, have a daughter, Grace. Southeast Missourian business reporter Brian Blackwell visited with Johnson to learn more about her life and how she became the owner of the salon.

Q: Why did you become a stylist and what makes the job so rewarding?

A: Growing up, I always loved dressing up and playing beauty shop, so it was only natural that I become a stylist. Making people feel good about themselves is only part of the rewards of my career, the close personal relationships with my clients and watching my team grow their business is what is the most rewarding.

Q: Tell me how you started in the industry and how Concepts Styling Salon began.

A: I began my career in a chain salon, and after many years I decided to try an independent salon. Concepts Styling Salon began from a dream that I could create an environment of mutual prosperity and growth while giving back. I am proud to say that Concepts Salon is active in supporting many charitable organizations, including St. Jude children's hospital, Heart for Africa, MDA and Susan G. Komen.

Q: How difficult was it opening your own business?

A: The hardest part of opening my business was overcoming the fear of the unknown. There are always risks involved with anything you do. You just have to be dedicated to your choices.

Q: Has there ever been a time when you wanted to give up?

A: Never. I have had some frustrating times but I will never give up. I believe in being committed to everything you do, even when things don't go the way you hope. There are lessons to be learned with every challenge. 

Q: The economy has affected virtually every sector and I'm sure the hair care industry isn't immune to the struggles. What is your take on the state of the hair care industry?

A: The economy has affected the industry as a whole. The most recent figures say salons are down 9 percent nationwide. My business is very young and still growing strong. Concepts has had constant growth, we are up around 30 percent and steadily climbing. Like I said, I have been very blessed.

Q: What's something the average person doesn't know about the hair industry that they might find interesting?

A: Most people don't realize how much opportunity is available as a stylist. I have traveled all over the country, met some amazing people and have developed relationships that will last forever. I love what I do and look forward to it every day. How many people can say that?

Q: When you aren't working, how do you spend your time?

A: I'm a member of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and am involved in many activities at La Croix United Methodist Church. In my free time I love to pursue photography. It has been a passion of mine for many years. I also enjoy running and have run five half-marathons, including two for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and one for the leukemia and lymphoma society in San Francisco.

Q: If you could trade places with anyone else for a day, who would it be?

A: I would love to trade places with Annie Liebovitz, a famous photographer. Her vision is amazing. I would love to see the world through her eyes and understand the inspiration behind her amazing portraits.

Q: Who has influenced you the most?

A: My daughter has been the most influential person in my life. Everything about myself, from who I am and who I hope to become, to my work ethic and my faith in God, are examples to her. This makes me strive to become a better influence in her life. Being a mother has changed me tremendously.

Q: What motivates you?

A: My motivation comes from knowing that everything I have is a blessing from God and I have a responsibilty to honor that. Many people are struggling today with the loss of their jobs. I feel very fortunate to have a career that I love and the opportunity to make a difference in the community. The best part is that I make people feel good about themselves every single day. To me that is rewarding and motivating.

Q: What other jobs besides stylist have you had?

A: I have been a stylist for 14 years but worked in sales at a clothing store to get myself through school.

Q: Anything else you'd like to add?

A: My favorite quote is, "Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

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