Tonya Jones is an award-winning master stylist, motivational speaker, leadership instructor and the founder, visionary team leader and owner of Tonya Jones SalonSpa. Part power CEO, part hair magician, Tonya’s passion, focus, drive and positivity are forces to be reckoned with. We are excited to welcome today’s FACE of Birmingham, Tonya Jones.
Where did you grow up and, if you are not a Birmingham native, what brought you here?
I grew up in a small town in south Mississippi right outside of Hattiesburg on a farm. I actually came to Birmingham in 2004 to be around my brother and his family. I moved here and immediately my life just fell into place. I met my husband the first day I moved here. It was kind of like love at first sight. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.
What do you love about Birmingham?
When you grow up in a small town and you come to a city the size of Birmingham, it’s like going to New York City. When I moved here, I was channeling my inner Carrie from “Sex in the City.” All I wanted to do was shop at Saks and buy nice handbags and great shoes! I just love the food, the art and the culture. I also love the sense of community. When I started as a stylist in Birmingham, the people were amazing. I immediately fell in love with the community, and it grew from there, faster than I ever could have imagined. And it has been an amazing adventure.
How did you get into cosmetology and the beauty industry?
After two years of college, I decided to venture into the world of beauty. This was a shock to my family, and, where my dad was concerned, it would be a big mistake, because it wasn’t the lawyer or accountant career that he wanted for me. However, my mother said, “Go with what’s in your heart, and do what you love.” I went to a small cosmetology school in Columbus, MS, and fell in love with every aspect of the industry. It was like entering a world of endless opportunities. I can work as many hours as I want, I can make as much as I want and I can be my own person.
Hair salons sometimes double as a spot for a therapy session. Think Steel Magnolias. Can you talk a little bit about that aspect of the job?
It’s not just about the hair; it’s about the client’s inner being, how they feel when they walk through the door. The energy that we give to them can change them in an instant. We can change someone’s inner state just by making them over and giving them a new hairstyle, and just spending time with them. Because you never know. You may be the only one who tells them they’re beautiful. And sometimes they just need to talk, and I love to listen. I also seek wisdom from them. My clients and I have a mutual respect for each other, and that makes it easy to listen and learn from each other.
What made you decide to establish the salon?
God has seen fit to open doors that one could only dream of. Now that I’m a business owner, I know that I am where I am supposed to be. I love to be a leader and a day maker. For me, success is the desire and drive to want my business to flourish and be sustainable, and that starts with me and my team. So it doesn’t matter where you grow up, or how you were raised, nor does it matter the school you went to. It all comes down to your passion and determination to be a success in whatever you choose. For me, it was the beauty industry and the world of hair. My vision was to create a culture and a team that I want to work with and a place where clients can escape from the world. You spend more time at work than you do at home; therefore, it is important for me to work with people that I love and can call family. And working for a salon in the past, I loved helping people reach their full potential. The best way to make that vision come to life was opening Tonya Jones SalonSpa.
And how do you help your staff reach their full potential now that you’re the leader?
Hard work and perseverance in any industry allows someone to succeed. I invest a considerable amount of time and money to train the stylists that work for me. That training is ongoing and continuous. That creates an environment where our clients can rest assured that they are getting the most trained, knowledgeable and current stylists in the industry. It is a win-win situation, because the harder they work, the more they will succeed, and with integrity and a skilled craft. There is not a shortcut, but anything with value is worth the hard work and perseverance.
Describe the Tonya Jones SalonSpa experience.
The moment a guest walks through the door, I want them to feel welcomed and pampered. I want to not only meet their needs, but to exceed them in every possible way. This should be a relaxing and luxurious experience and that is why we go above and beyond for our guests. For example, each guest is given a hand treatment and neck and shoulder massage with their shampoo. They can enjoy a hot coffee, a glass of wine, a light lunch or hors d’oeuvres prepared by our full-time chef at English Village. Life is busy and stressful, and we want to allow our guests an escape. We love when we hear someone tell us, “I never want to leave!” or “I want to stay here all day!”
What do you do when you’re not working?
I love spending time with family. I love being outdoors. I love to read inspirational, motivational and entrepreneurial books; something that’s going to motivate and inspire me. And I’ve made my husband’s life because I like to play golf. We also love to take last-minute getaways.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve always had “Live the life that you love” as my mantra. I just love that, because it means different things for everyone. And it’s really just having passion and integrity. I mean, you can’t go wrong if you’re doing what you love.
What’s something that people might be surprised to know about you?
I make the meanest buttermilk biscuit, from scratch, that you’ve ever had. It will make you slap your mama! I can cook, and that really shocks a lot of people. That’s my second passion.
Any guilty pleasures?
I love to travel. My husband and I are about to go to Italy for our 10-year anniversary, and I’m so excited. I’m going to starve myself for about two weeks before we go, so I can eat my way through Italy. I’ve made him watch Under the Tuscan Sun and Eat, Pray, Love. I love seeing the world. But as for guilty pleasures, it would be lying on my couch with my feet propped up in loungewear, while my husband watches ESPN, chilling with my two “doggers” in my lap — my 10-year-old springer spaniel, Maggie May, and my two-year-old black lab, Samantha Jones.
Name three frivolous or lighthearted things you can’t live without.
Christian Louboutin high heels, Kitchen Aid mixer and Hikari shears
Thank you, Tonya! To schedule a hair styling, color treatment, makeup, nails, waxing, facial or massage appointment, visit Tonya Jones SalonSpa.
And thank you to Brendon Pinola for the fantastic pictures of Tonya at Tonya Jones SalonSpa’s English Village location!
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