1194 N Orange Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789
Kathleen Pugh-Janes knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue a career in the beauty industry. Upon her birth in Detroit, Kathleen was placed for adoption, and the years that followed proved challenging to Kathleen as she struggled to find her place in the world. Most of her peers could not relate to her edgy sense of style, but Kathleen was not willing to sacrifice who she was to fit the mold of what others expected her to be. She left home at age 14 – a punk rock girl with a shaved head – to pursue her dreams on her own terms. Over the next decade or so, Kathleen discovered more about herself through many trials and tribulations.
In 2002, Kathleen became pregnant with her son. In her third trimester, she went to the ER for what she thought was an asthma attack but turned out to be pneumonia. While waiting for the OB/GYN, her oxygen level dropped dangerously low, and she had to be intubated. Once the doctor arrived, he performed an emergency C-section for a premature delivery of her baby boy. Kathleen’s pneumonia developed into a rare lung disease, ARDS, putting her in a coma, and she clinically died three times while on life support. When she awoke, she had to learn to walk, talk, and eat again – all things that most of us take for granted. In addition, she had gained weight from the steroids used to treat her pneumonia. She became unrecognizable to herself – she wondered how she would be able to get her life back. Once she was able to regain normal functioning, she was ready to meet her son for the first time and grateful that she was alive and could breathe and swallow. The little things were all that mattered, and from that moment on, she vowed to appreciate every moment she was alive.
For the first few years after leaving the hospital, Kathleen struggled with PTSD – afraid she would get sick again and die, leaving her son motherless. She rarely left the house due anxiety combined with insecurity about the weight she gained. After some soul-searching, she was able to make peace with how she looked and regain her self-confidence. She realized that people, including other salon owners, that used to judge and criticize her behind her back were only trying to make themselves look better and had nothing to do with her or who she was. What used to hurt her feelings now motivated her to return to the beauty industry and change the way true beauty is conveyed and perceived – from being about the way a person looks to be about the way a person feels about themselves. Kathleen believes that salon owners and stylists have the opportunity to change lives at an organic level and that it is their duty and privilege to make clients feel beautiful from the inside out. Kathleen’s passion is to help people look and feel their absolute best.
With the goal of doing her part to change the face of the beauty industry, Kathleen opened a high-end salon seven years ago in Winter Park, FL called Salon Muse. She believes that beauty is not only about outward appearance, nor does it come in a box. It comes in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. The beauty industry is not only about hair and makeup – it is about touching lives and hearts. The conversation between a stylist and client is personal and intimate – they talk about real things that matter. Kathleen prides herself in making sure her clients feel good about themselves and comfortable sharing things with her about their lives. When Kathleen received the call from Orlando magazine with news that she received Best Salon and Woman of the Year awards, she felt uncomfortable at first. She does not want praise for her accomplishments, nor does she believe that she deserves special recognition for overcoming obstacles. Kathleen wants to use her story as a platform to connect with others and show them that they are worthy of pursuing their dreams, whatever they may be. She believes that salon owners and stylists can work together to reshape the beauty industry and encourage one another to be true to themselves and kind to others.
Cultivating relationships with people is the most important thing in life. Things come and go, but relationships are lasting. Kathleen has stated that she will never be friends with someone because of what they have or their status in the community – a person could be a billionaire today, lose it all tomorrow, and the only thing remaining is their relationships. Kathleen also believes that learning to accepting of others and judgment-free is the key to having genuine, lasting relationships. The things that happen to people do not make them who they are, and you never know what someone has been through or how you would have handled the situation differently. Overcoming adversity creates empathy towards others, and empathy is what the beauty industry is lacking. Outward beauty without inner substance can create a false sense of security and an unrealistic sense of ego. The beauty industry needs a facelift – and it is Kathleen’s mission to create a concept of beauty that is relatable to all who step through the doors of her salon.