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Conversations with Shondi Pugh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shondi Pugh.

Hi Shondi, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I have been a cosmetologist in Austin since 2004. After going through cancer treatment in 2012 and losing my hair permanently as a result of chemotherapy, my career in hairstyling took a more holistic turn. My interest in intention setting, working with the phases of the moon, and other mindfulness practices were helping me heal through the aftermath of my breast cancer experience. Coincidentally, I started to see a shift in the type of folks I was attracting and the conversations we were having in and behind the chair.

I moved my practice to a private studio in 2018, bringing in all organic products and low-toxic colors. This gave me an opportunity to work more intimately with folks who may be going through difficult transitions, trauma, or anything personal that required more privacy.

During the Spring/Summer of 2020, I had a lot of time to think about my vocation and what I wanted to put out into the world moving forward. The phrase “In Love and Beauty” popped into my head, as it encapsulates how I want to show up for the people that I serve. I knew I was being called to do more than “just hair” and felt guided to do more with my natural gifts of hosting and holding space; as well as serving beautiful hair. When our industry was largely shut down with Covid, I decided to finally build out the dream studio that I had always imagined on my property.

I imagined a space that transports you as soon as you enter it. A cozy, clean air, well-lit beauty studio full of plants, books and beautiful luxury beauty products that were GOOD for you.

I opened the doors to the In Love and Beauty Studio in June of 2021.

This is not a fast-paced environment where clients are squeezed in at the last minute or even booked back to back. This is a space that is designed for you to exist in, having carved out space just for you. The space is infused with intention and ritual, and I believe that my guests pick up on that when they enter. A visit with me may look and feel different than what you’ve experienced with other stylists. I will ask questions about your home hair habits, your scalp health, as well as how you are feeling, how you would like to feel when you leave, and the vibe that you would like me to help you put out into the world. Together we will come up with a plan that will have you feeling beautiful on the inside as well as the outside.

As I continue on this path of holistic beauty bringing, I have added Trichology services to treat hair at the root, as well as studying energy healing and becoming Reiki 1 certified. I look forward to bringing more healing modalities to my guests as I uncover the tools that work for me.

In addition to the beauty business, I have re-immersed myself in the dance world after an almost 20 years hiatus. I started dancing with a local company, Sass n Strut, that provides classes, performance opportunities and community to adult dancers, and I just joined Moving Beyond Cancer Collaborative as a dance instructor to those affected by cancer. This class is intended to help those living in post cancer bodies connect to, cultivate appreciation for themselves through movement.

And lastly, I have been working on a book about living through breast cancer treatment as a young thirty-something and the trauma that is the aftermath of cancer. I hope to find time to write and publish it one day!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It hasn’t been smooth in that I became very discouraged in the hair business after losing my hair. The hard part was finding my passion for beauty, and I had to re-evaluate and unpack what that meant to me. I believe that I found a deeper and richer sense of beauty in myself as a result of having lost my hair and other attributes that identified me as a “feminine woman” .. it was exhausting to go through that process, essentially exposed, while trying to heal.

Having said that, my experience makes it very easy for me to infuse compassion into my services with my guests.

The road has been smooth, though, in the sense that the universe seems to always put the right folx in my path that reminds me that the work that I do is valid and needed. It becomes increasingly easier for me to have faith that I’m not for everyone and that’s okay.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I think I’m known for my compassion, space holding, extensive consultations and for my practical skill in hair cutting and organic color.

I specialize in treating the hair from the root, organic hair color, lived in haircuts that air dry well and grow out well.

I think what sets me apart is the infusing of esoteric practices into my workday.

I am most proud of my ability to transform my business to suit the needs of both my guests and myself.

As a person, I am proud of my adaptability and resiliency.

As an artist, I am proud of my more recent trust in the ebb and flow of things. When I’m not creating, I try to remember that we all need incubation periods. This seems to help. Though I’m always a work in progress.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Creativity Resilience

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Leah Muse

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