FROM SMALL BEGINNINGS TO A FULL-SERVICE SALON

Corning, Iowa (pop. 1,635) is our featured rural community this week! The thriving scene in Corning is the result of a forward-thinking community that is full of vision for their small town. We'll be sharing stories throughout the week from local leaders and business owners who are making an impact here. Today's guest blog post is from Aurilla Jennings, owner of Auriginal Designs, a full-service salon.

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The year was 2009.

As I bounced on a small seat in the corner of a public transportation bus I saw an advertisement for The Salon Professional Academy. You see, I was attending a university in hopes to become something I wasn’t. It was there my life would be forever changed.

My name is Aurilla — or Rilla, as most people in my hometown of Corning know me as, and this is my story.

Ten years ago I started my career in the beauty industry. Looking back it’s been quite the whirlwind of emotions! I started as a commission-based stylist, and in 2012 I decided to pack up my things and move back to my hometown of Corning, Iowa. When I moved back to the area I worked three jobs — stylist, dance instructor, and waitress. Let’s be honest: I was broke as a joke. I actually remember my mother stocking my freezer with Schwan’s frozen foods so she knew I’d eat. During this timeframe I was commuting back and forth to Des Moines, Iowa to participate in photo shoots. These photo shoots were a collaboration of creative minds, where we could come together and build our portfolio in hopes of getting paid one day on set.

Through building my portfolio for a year or two, I had the opportunity to work as a freelance artist for magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens, DSM Magazine, Modern Salon, American Salon, and Inspire: Hair Fashion for Salon Clients. I thought I had hit it big time!  It was a very exciting journey of my life, but all journeys lead to forks in the road.

The year was 2014.

I had contacted a hair artist by the name of Martin Parsons. Martin was known as the gentleman of hairdressing and hailed from a neighboring town outside of Toronto, Canada. Mr. Parsons invited me to America’s Beauty Show in Chicago to be his assistant for the weekend. One small problem: it wasn’t paid. I scraped up all the money I could, my mom packed me a cooler, and I hit the open road to Chicago in hopes of getting hired full time.

The rest of this story is actually history — I ended up getting hired and traveling the hair show circuit with the Parsons family for almost three years. It was a time in my life where I needed to step outside of my comfort zone and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to do so.  

My heart has always been in working behind the chair, so it was time to get back to the basics and start cultivating my own brand. The years passed and I was no longer working three jobs. I was creating a strong clientele and a solid income. (Whew! Finally!)

I had sent a video and resume in to Redken to become an artist as well as work behind the chair. It is quite amazing what opportunities will present themselves when you start to believe in yourself! Just like clock work, I was hired as a Redken Store Educator.

The year is 2019. The month is April.  

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Born into the world was something that caught me red-handed, whipped me in the face, and said “Go For It.” Born was my new business: Auriginal Designs.

Auriginal Designs is a small, independent salon suite nestled into a larger building that rents out commercial spaces.  I like to call it the “Beauty Underground!” Auriginal Designs is a full-service salon lead by me, Rilla, that offers the latest hair coloring and cutting techniques. It is a Redken Exclusive salon.

What makes it different? Any guest can conveniently book his or her own appointment by the click of their mobile device. Any day, any time, anywhere.

Convenience was important to me when I started building my business — people can order things online, so why aren’t they able to make their hair appointments online? My online system confirms your appointment, as well as sends you a reminder text 12 hours before your service.

I am not a seasoned entrepreneur by any means — some days I feel like I’m just rolling with the punches, but I will always remember where I came from and how little I had in the beginning. Through a lot of hard work and sacrifice, I was gifted with a voice and creativity. I was lucky enough to fall into a career that loved me more than I loved myself at the time.

I continue to fall in love with my career day after day because of the wonderful souls that sit in my chair and allow me to help them feel good about themselves — and for those people, I will forever be grateful.  

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