New salon opens in Sister Lakes

SISTER LAKES — As a child, Kayleigh Balsbaugh described her hair as unruly, curly and sometimes challenging to manage.

However, after being referred to a specific salon, one hairstylist in particular, she said she was made to feel like “the most beautiful person.” When Balsbaugh sat in the salon chair, the hairstylist not only knew how to handle her hair type but also listened to what Balsbaugh wanted.

Now, Balsbaugh, who is a hairstylist herself, works to create the same feeling for her clients. Recently, she began to be able to offer her services under a new title — salon owner.

On March 7, Balsbaugh and Rachele Rice announced they were opening a salon in Sister Lakes, Luxe Parlor, 67650 M-152, Dowagiac.

“Rachel and I worked together when we were at Studio 204, and we partnered well and kept learning from each other,” Balsbaugh said. “She had five more years of experience give or take. When you get a group of girls together, and they work very well together, you do just about anything you can to keep them together.”

When Balsbaugh and Rice heard Studio 204 was for sale, they realized they would work together nicely on the business end and wanted to keep a salon in the heart of Sister Lakes. Shortly after, they made the decision to open Luxe Parlor. Two other stylists from Studio 204 also joined the team at Luxe Parlor.

“We decided to pull the trigger and open up a salon that we could both feel safe and proud of,” Balsbaugh said.

The salon’s location did require some interior renovations, including painting and sanding. However, no major maintenance projects were needed.

Stylists at Luxe Parlor will offer cuts for children, women, men and senior citizens. The salon will also provide hair coloring and special occasion hairstyles.

A nail technician will also offer services for natural nails. Clients can also get spray tanning services and makeup services.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Balsbaugh said the salon was open for two “blissful” weeks.

Even with the doors closed, the stylists are continuing to stay educated.

“In the meantime, we are doing the best we can,” Balsbaugh said. “Salon Centric, who we order a lot of our product from, has done amazing things to get us free education that would normally be very costly. Quite a few of our classes have been canceled. We are also taking the time to spend with our families.”

Balsbaugh said the stylists are ready to get back to meeting with clients and expect business to be “insane” when they are given the green light.

So far, the salon has been researching how salons in other states, like Georgia, are being safe after opening their doors to clients.

“We have an idea of what we are going to be expecting, but since Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hasn’t told us anything specific, we are kind of winging it,” Balsbuagh said.

During the salon’s closure, Balsbaugh also said she and the other hairstylist at Luxe Parlor have been letting their natural hair shine.

“I know people are probably cutting their own hair,” she said. “I can’t fault them for that. I am fully letting my hair go. I am not touching my hair — cutting it, coloring it — until I get back to work. My clients are going to see me at my all-natural.”

Once the salon is permitted to open, Balsbaugh said she hopes to see full books and continue to make her clients feel special.

“At the end of the day, nine times out of 10, someone coming in doesn’t need a haircut,” she said. “They truly want to tell me their flaws, and they want me to tell them, ‘That’s not it. You are beautiful.'”