When Casie Thelen, of the Lowell Hair Studio, was in first grade, two things began to shape her. She had a dream of becoming a hairstylist, and she was held back to repeat first grade. “I really struggled with feeling not smart, and that shaped me,” Thelen said. But God had a plan to merge her dream and her pain into a beautiful calling.
After high school, Thelen followed her dream and enrolled in beauty school in East Lansing. She returned to her hometown, Lake Odessa, in 1999 to work at her uncle’s salon. “My uncle was a role model when it came to being a stylist and running a salon,” she explained. During her years in his salon, Thelen learned how to care for clients from the second they walked through the door. “He taught me to greet each customer with a warm welcome and offer them something to drink. He kept a very professional, clean, and organized salon.” She didn’t realize God was preparing her to one day open her own salon. “I was happy to just rent a chair. I never thought I’d own a salon.” She developed a steady clientele in the small town until 2011.
Because of her childhood pain of feeling not smart, Thelen was aware how many people don’t feel confident in themselves. “People really do tell their hairdresser a lot,” she said. Her mission became to bring out people’s best from the inside out.
“I love it when hearts are touched, when you reach people where they are. I love the relationships with clients. I love it when you see someone smile and feel good about themselves.” Thelen believes that by helping people pull out their best, they can go out and change the world around them.
Thelen and her husband, Tom, moved their family to Lowell. The drive to Lake Odessa a few times a week became exhausting. Then she saw God’s unexpected provision. “I had been praying about my work. I really wanted to bloom where I was planted and to work and serve in my own town,” Thelen said. After dismissing an idea to work out of her home, a friend told her about an opening at Modern Photographics.
“My friend said there had been a salon in the studio before, and the salon owner had moved. She had worked primarily styling Modern’s clients for senior photos.” Modern had not advertised the open space, but Thelen made a call to inquire.
Conversations progressed, and Modern expressed excitement that Thelen had regular clientele who would follow her to the new location.
Thelen and her husband remodeled the cozy space, which has just enough space for two chairs, a sink, and a dryer. During the remodeling process, Brenda, a fellow stylist from Thelen’s church, heard about the new salon. Thelen didn’t plan to have other stylists rent chairs, but when Brenda approached about renting a chair it seemed like a great fit for the Studio. Brenda came on staff, even assisting with the renovations. The women opened The Lowell Hair Studio in December 2011.
Word spread quickly. Just two years later, The Hair Studio now has five stylists. “Every relationship was natural in how it happened. All five of us love God and have a mission to love on people and serve clients with our work. God made this bigger than I expected. We have something to give people, more than just a good hairstyle. Because of our faith we can give an atmosphere of peace and someone to listen, and to love them and care for them,” Thelen said.
Thelen is thankful that she can choose to work just two days a week and be home with her kids the others days. “It’s a struggle to balance the two, but I’m learning to keep boundaries.” God has helped Thelen get out of her shell and learn the business end of things. “He’s helped me grow and learn over the past two years. It’s so neat to see how He has brought a team together and how we play to each other’s strengths and rely on each other.”
Thelen is amazed that God called her to be a business leader. Her faith upholds her, as do her husband and family. No matter what the future brings, she will continue to trust God’s leading and make it her mission to help people feel safe and confident in whom God created them to be.
At A Glance:
Name: Casie Thelen
Company: Lowell Hair Studio
Family: Husband, Tom; 4 kids ages 3-7
Phone: (616) 987-0222