Tonya Hansen is a mom, stylist and small business owner. She's the type of person that will make each and every person feel special and truly takes it upon herself to build up other women around her. Her unapologetically authentic spirit is what drew us to her for this campaign and we're so excited to share more of her story and how she's owned her power in everything that she does.
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do, including how you got started and what your path has looked like.
I'm Tonya Hansen - hair stylist and owner of Hansen & Co. Beauty Lounge, and I'm a mom of two. I first really got into hair 12 years ago. At the time I was actually going to be a nurse, like I was in nursing school, but quickly realized that wasn't my path and made a huge decision for myself to go into hair instead.
Can you talk about your journey to becoming the stylist you are today?
In 2013, when my mom was sick, I really started to hone in on the intimacy that comes with being a stylist.
My mom and I had a tradition that every Mother's Day we would paint our toes red because, as she would say, it meant we were 'all good for the summer'. That year she told me that all she wanted was to have her hair done, so we did her hair and our nails and a week later she passed away.
When my mom was in the hospital they ended up having to shave some of her head. I knew she would never want to have a funeral with a shaved head or a wrap, so I went wig shopping for her and it was in that moment my perspective really shifted. I realized just how intimate and meaningful hair can be, because in that moment I was really experiencing it from the most intimate place.
How did this moment with your mom change your overall perspective on your career?
It really softened me up to things about women that don't really get noticed as much. Things that really matter to us and make us feel so good. It's not just hair, it's a part of your physical being and for so many of us can really impact how we feel about ourselves and our own individuality.
How do you feel like your mindset impacts how you operate your salon and treat those around you?
As a stylist, you're not just doing hair — people talk to you about EVERYTHING – you're a support system and you're a friend. This is why we're a Beauty Lounge instead of a salon, because I wanted it to be a space where people could just relax and enjoy themselves. We have clients that come in just to hang out because they're having a rough day and just need someone to bitch with them and THAT'S OKAY because we've all been there. I never wanted it to feel like it was just a space to get your hair done because that's just such a small piece of what we do. The most important piece is connecting with our clients and making them feel comfortable, making them feel like they want to come back and spend time with us because genuinely we want to spend time with them.
As a team, we love meeting people who aren't like us. We focus on all women with all types of hair. We want to embrace diversity and community and empower every woman who steps through our door.
You're a business owner, a stylist and a mother. All of these roles are different and impact you differently. Reflecting back, can you talk about some ways you've grown? What do you feel is your purpose?
I've always felt like I wasn't worthy. Like I'm a believer and I've always been nice and caring to other people, but never really nice to myself. Recently I was talking to a friend who also said she has the same challenges, but hers more-so related to not knowing what her purpose was. In that moment it really hit me that I knew what my purpose was - it's to just be who I am and show other people that it's okay for them to do the same. I've learned to be authentic. I've stopped apologizing. I used to be the "sorry girl" but then I realized I needed to stop apologizing because the truth is that I have a gift to give and I don't actually need to be sorry. It's what makes the world so beautiful - that we are all different.
If you were to connect with other women who are feeling stuck or aren’t feeling like their making an impact, what advice would you give them?
Empower each other.
Don’t be afraid to offer support. Sometimes all someone needs is the reassurance that even if life isn’t perfect, they're doing a good job. It all starts with us, with women. Because the truth is that we don’t always take credit ourselves, yet the more we dish that out to others the more it will come back full circle. Sometimes I think there’s this misconception that women are always knocking each other down and while there’s this societal shift, it’s really in our hands to make that happen. It all starts with including other women in what we’re doing and building each other up. Because when you support another women, you make them feel empowered and they will go on to support someone else. It really all starts with you.
Lastly, how do you own your power?
My purpose in life is to be myself, because I want other women to feel confident being themselves. I believe in the ripple effect - that if we have the confidence to start doing something others will follow. I think it all starts with women going out of their way to compliment each other on what they’re doing, by recognizing how they’re making a difference and really showing them that they mean something to someone. Don’t be afraid to compliment someone. Don't be afraid to build someone else up. Because you never know - that person may never have been told that before and it will probably make her day.