Stylist Spotlight: Donna Means, Salon DM3®
Virtue®'s DNA is rooted in science, but it’s also rooted in real people, real experience, and real feedback. Our stylists and salon partners are the heartbeat of this brand. They are in-the-field experts who guide and champion us, graciously lending us their time and insight. In just a few short years, we’ve grown so much, and we’re proud that our salon community is growing, too. In these features, we love introducing you to the brothers and sisters who help make up this family––one full of passion, expertise, and great, great hair.
Stylist Donna Means of Salon DM3 in Athens, GA, always knew she wanted to be a stylist. Born and raised in Central Valley, CA, she attended a high school that allowed work-study; naturally, she went to cosmetology school and got her license before she’d even graduated high school. Here she shares the sage advice she’d give her younger self, the importance of empowerment, and what’s on the horizon for her career.
Q: What insights do you have for the pro community regarding re-openings/navigating the new normal? I’ve learned that you’re going to have coworkers on all levels of comfort. It's best to have an understanding of the rules and regulations before returning. Find masks that are comfortable and breathable. There’s also a range of comfort from clients, so respect everyone’s opinion, but have a clear and concise plan or policy, and don’t stray from that.
Q: What’s your favorite memory from your journey? When did it feel like you caught your “big break?” One of my favorite memories is from when I was in San Diego; I cut a guy’s hair for about two years. I then moved to a high-end salon. He followed there and was my first client. It was at least a $60+ increase of price for him; he said he stopped smoking to afford my new prices. I was so humbled by that. It formed my whole mentality and career. As for big breaks, I don’t have one in particular. My whole career has been a series of breaks. I’ve had incredible people and mentors in my life.
Q: Is there anyone in the industry or beyond that you really admire, or someone who inspired you in your career? Charles Stevenson groomed me and shaped me during cosmetology school. Nick Arrojo is so cool and approachable. We were in the same class of Intercoiffure in New York. He navigated salon closings while being transparent with his loss, remaining so optimistic, hopeful, and positive.
Q: How do you define a “success” after a client leaves your salon? I think success happens before they leave with their exuberance and smile. Afterwards, it comes from salon referrals and notes, etc.
Q: What’s your favorite way to unwind after work? A long, hot bath and playing outside with my corgi with the water hose.
Q: If you could spend the day with someone who you consider a “style icon” who would it be? What would you do? Karl Lagerfeld because of his elegance and great attitude. We’d go around and inspire women who are inspiring themselves. I’d love to make women happy with a hair and fashion boot camp to renew their self confidence.
Q: How do you like to stay up to date on the latest trends, techniques, and styles? I’m super lucky to be living in Athens, where the University of Georgia is located. We’re surrounded by young people all the time. I’m also diehard for in-person training. I miss that desperately right now.
Q: What’s a trend that you hope never goes out of style? I hope the shag never goes. It’s always been my favorite because it’s so flattering and versatile. It can be rock and roll or hippie.
Q: What do you value most about being a Virtue® affiliate? The community. Even though I’m a salon owner, every time I’ve had an issue with absolutely anything, the community is so accessible, personable, and supportive. It helps me thrive and I adore that about it.
Q: What was the worst haircut you ever had? Countless ones that I’ve given myself. Too many to count and they’re all by my own hands.
Q: Worst haircut you ever gave someone else? The first time I used a feather razor, I robbed this woman with fine hair. I didn’t have the insight to put down the razor and was like, “I’m finishing this.” It was horrid. The wonderful thing with mistakes like that is that they never happen again.
Q: What was the first hairstyle or technique that you mastered? The hardest? The first: the Jennifer Aniston cut. The hardest: the Vidal Sassoon academy was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my career. It was so precise. Any Vidal Sassoon collection cut is difficult for me because it’s out of my realm of thinking.
Q: What’s your personal hair routine? Shampoo daily with Recovery Shampoo and condition with the Restorative Treatment Mask. I’m using the Restorative Treatment Mask daily because my hair is parched. Then I use Volumizing Primer and Un-Frizz Cream, blow dry, then style with Texturizing Spray. To finish, I use the Split End Serum on my bangs. Before I go to bed, I do a coating of Split End Serum all over my hair.
Q: What other things are you passionate about that aren’t hair related? The elderly in our community; the Athens community council on aging. The poor and elderly is such a forgotten group. That’s what our salon and I support.
Q: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure to indulge? Taco Bell, hands down.
Q: How do you manage work-life balance? What’s that?
Q: What’s next for your career? I’ve been a stylist for 30 years now. The past 10 years I've owned my own salon. I wanted to mentor young stylists, then have them leave and do their own thing. That’s been really rewarding. As I’ve been mentoring these girls, I’ve seen so much fear and self-doubt. My goal is to only work one day a week, and develop an empowering women’s retreat for women of all ages and career stages.
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self? Save your cash and know your worth. You do not need Starbucks every day.
Q: Why Virtue®? I love that y’all have your four charitable partners. It allows for a big impact. It was probably four years ago at a trade show in New Orleans when I saw the Virtue booth. Consumers are so educated these days with the internet and information at their fingertips. There’s no debate when it comes to science, female-owned, and southern roots.
Q: What’s your favorite Virtue® product? Split End Serum for sure. It literally transforms. Broken hairs around your face are old news.