While growing up, JoAnn LS had always wanted to be an artist, to create beautiful things that made people stop and take a pause. So, that’s exactly what she did.
In May of 2019, JoAnn opened her own business in Iowa City called Honeybee Hair Parlor. Honeybee is a beauty and grooming salon, but also so much more. It is a warm, inviting space where all are welcomed, and where the staff live the values of inclusion, support, and compassion.
In speaking with JoAnn, I learned that her path was not a straight line from school to business owner, but rather an adventure that led her to ultimately open this space for everyone in the community.
JoAnn was an artist from a young age, always wanting to create something beautiful. When she reached high school, like many of us, she was unsure what she wanted to do for the rest of her of life.
So, she joined AmeriCorps, a national volunteer civil society. She volunteered at a local youth center for a year. After that year was up JoAnn made a list; her list was of potential careers where she could have stability while still having the outlet for creativity. Hairdressing was on that list.
JoAnn began school the next year and shortly after, became a hairdresser. She worked locally before realizing that Iowa City had room for one more salon, but not just any salon.
Honeybee Hair Parlor, located at 755 S. Gilbert Street, is full of amazing antique furniture and talented artists who make you feel wanted and appreciated at the salon. They strive to create in a way that gives you exactly what you’re looking for but don’t perpetuate traditional beauty standards. Whatever you want is right.
JoAnn wanted to create a space where everyone feels welcome, eliminating pretentiousness and formality that can often times accompany an experience to the salon. Inside the salon, JoAnn antiqued and restored almost all of the of the furniture including lime green vanities, pink and yellow cabinets and antique white shiplap doors. The store’s fun-fabric chairs invite you to take a stay and stick around for a while.
AND they have wine and local art. They have amazing shadowboxes on the wall created by local artists and if the Patsy Cline shadowbox wasn’t already sold it would be hanging in my bedroom right now.
JoAnn felt that the entrepreneur in her was always there. When she finished school, she put off working for herself for as long as she could and gained valuable experience. Ultimately, the “preparation and luck aligned,” and JoAnn was able to create her own space.
Being an entrepreneur has allowed JoAnn to continuously learn things about her business and herself every day. One of the most important lessons for JoAnn was learning to have faith and confidence in herself- thank goodness she did!
She learned to never make herself feel smaller so others could feel bigger. She embodies this confidence and transfers it over to anyone who steps through the doors, making them feel better when they’re in her chair.
One of her best decisions as an entrepreneur was surrounding herself with staff who are not only capable but extremely strong, talented and unique. JoAnn says that working with such great people like Tara Vree and Liz Sofranko has made Honeybee a better business and teaches JoAnn something new every day.
Liz and Tara are both incredibly talented people in their own right. Liz came back to Iowa City after managing salons in San Francisco for a time and loves to create a stylish cut or spice up a color! Tara has been styling in Iowa for many years and not only is a great conversation, but amazing with event styling and basically ~any~ haircut you could want!
Along with her current staff, JoAnn says she has learned a great deal from other female entrepreneurs in the community that have given her wisdom, support and inspiration all along the way. Knowing that other women are out there doing it makes her believe in herself more.
Though I am writing about Honeybee now, this will certainly not be the last time you hear about this business as great things are on the horizon. The team will be headed to New Orleans in January and coming back to a list of art shows, events, and other hosted classes.
As someone who is constantly creating and learning the nuances of being a business owner, JoAnn’s advice to future entrepreneurs is to “to your research and be organized, learn as much from other entrepreneurs as you can, trust your instincts, be a leader not a dictator, and be prepared to work your ass off.”
Honeybee Hair Parlor is doing amazing things for the industry. They did amazing things for my new hair, and they continue to create a better community around them. Thank you, Honeybee – keep bee-ing fantastic!