Faces in the Crowd: Lori VanAlstine

October 21, 2019

By Gene Bodnar

I happened to be in Carousal Mall in Clare and thought it would be interesting to interview the owner of Hairz 2 U, a hair and beauty salon located at 1442 N. McEwan. Being completely bald myself, this was a business I would never have the occasion to patronize, but I also realized that many residents of Clare would love to know more about the place and its owner. I introducd myself to Lori VanAlstine, the owner, and arranged an interview that took place in her salon a couple of days later.

Lori was born in Wayne County in 1974. While she was still an infant, the family moved to Shelbyville, Tennessee. Five years later, the family moved back to Clare. From kindergarten through the eighth grade, Lori attended the Clare public school system. The family moved once again and found themselves returning to Clare by the time Lori was 17.

Before the days when special nurse’s training was required, Lori worked for the Ardis Nursing Home in Farwell. During this time, she also got her GED and soon got a license to be a Certified Nurse’s Assistant. She spent the next 20 years working in this field.

At the age of 23, Lori moved to Manton. She began attending Baker College for a degree in Nursing. During the next 3 years, she worked as a part-time waitress, and she also worked with home health care.

Moving back to Clare at the age of 26, she worked about a year at Punch’s Pharmacy as their Over-the-Counter Coordinator. For a time, she also worked as a Bartender at Gateway Lanes & Lounge. Eventually, she worked for Heartland Home Care in Midland, soon becoming a Supervisor. Thereafter, she traveled to Charlevoix to open a Home Care/Health Care/Hospice Center in that city. During her stint working in Charlevoix, she would come home to Clare on weekends, then return to Charlevoix on Mondays through Fridays. This became quite burdensome, so she resigned from this job 5 years later.

At the age of 28, Lori opened a state-licensed day care center. Lori says the next 5 years were the best years of her life. They required lots of hard work, but they were also fun.

Lori is raising 3 daughters: Peyton, 14; Rachael, 12; and Chloe Bundon, 17. Lori says that two years ago, Chloe’s mom passed away. She was a dear friend of Lori’s, and she had agreed to raise Chloe as one of her own. All 3 girls currently attend the Clare public school system.

After closing the day care center, she returned to work at Heartland Home Care in Midland, but she was not happy with the work, especially with the insurance side of the job. She frequently saw examples of the flaws in insurance programs that forced many people into dire straits. Lori developed a “sour taste about health care in general.” There had to be something better in life for her.

Lori had been interested in hair and make-up since the age of 14. She derived much enjoyment from experimenting most of her life, so she decided to enroll MJ Murphy Beauty School in Clare in 2008. Although the curriculum normally lasted a bit over 10 months, Lori graduated on July 10, 2010. Seven days later, she married her wife, Karen.

Now she had a license, but in order to open a salon of her own, first she had to work for one year in an existing salon. So she moved to Harrison, where she worked for a salon in that town.

In 2011, she moved back to Clare and opened her own salon on 4th Street in Clare in a place formerly called Shear Madness. Booth rentals were available, but Lori herself did most of the work, developing a good clientele. The salon operated for 2 years, but Lori had to close the place when Rachel became severely ill with kidney disease, which required a lot of intensive care.

Lori moved to Farwell, where she saw a few private clients while she also took care of her daughter.

Soon, Lori found herself working on commission for Penny Smith at Moodmaker for about a year.

On November 15, 2015, Lori rented a building and opened Hairz 2 U in Farwell. She remembers that she offered a Deer Hunter’s Widow Special upon opening. Unfortunately, less than a year later, the building was sold by the owner, and Lori had to vacate.

On October 31, 2016, she re-opened Hairz 2 U – this time in her present location in Clare. In addition to hair styling and cutting, she also offers manicures, pedicures, make up, waxings, low lighting, high lighting, nails fill and full set, coloring, and Malibus. A Malibu is a hair treatment to counteract the adverse effects of hard water/rust on the hair.

Lori currently has 3 stylists who rent booths from her. They include Janelle Allen of Loomis; Janelle’s daughter Erica of Loomis; and Samantha Donaldson of Clare. Janelle and Erica have worked there for two and a half years, and Samantha has worked there for two years. Lori says that all 3 stylists have developed an amazing clientele.

Each of the 3 stylists, and Lori as well, have their own strengths and weaknesses. Between all 4, they are able to cover any task energetically and lovingly. For example, Lori says she’s not especially fond of doing perms; however, Janelle loves doing them. Furthermore, the 4 of them have developed a strong sense of trust between them, a deep respect for each other, and an absolute honesty.

Lori points out that a typical salon worker must have many skills beyond the technical skills. He/she must also be an artist, a sales person, a coordinator, a priest, a therapist, and whatever else it takes to create a happy client. Many, many or her clients are repeat clients, and many have become so close that they could almost be called family.

Lori participates in many fundraising events, especially those involving children. Her goal each year is to sponsor fundraisers for kids that approach or exceed $5,000. Just recently, she offered $5 off any haircut if the client brought in an item of school supplies. If a client brought in a backpack, the haircut was free.

About the first of October of this year, Lori expects to offer a “Customer Appreciation Day” in which she offers free food, a disk jockey, balloons, lemonade, gift baskets, and other items for her clients.

In December, she offers $5 off haircuts if you bring in an upwrapped toy for kids.

I asked Lori if she had any pet peeves. She replied, “Gossips.” Lori also indicated she or her co-workers will never say anything adverse about any stylist who works elsewhere.

I then asked her if she had any special talents that most people are not aware of. She said she loves to sing and she’s pretty good at it.

She said if she could be anyplace other than here, right this minute, she would love to be in Tennessee with her 3 girls.

Lori thinks of herself as Assertive, Open-Minded, and Kind.

When she’s not at work, the thing she loves most is being with family.

Her motto: “Nobody is so rich that they can afford to throw away a friend.”

In conclusion, Lori VanAlstine is a determined woman who is persistent in reaching her goals. She loves making people look beautiful. She loves contributing to charities. She loves making people feel good about themselves. In short, she has a good heart.

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