Q&A With Vicki Lynn: On Cosmetology Journey, Dealing With Failure And Continuing Education

About Vicki Lynn Kelley 

Vicki is the entrepreneur behind Ovations by Vicki Lynn and Vicki Lynn cosmetics. She grew up in Austin, Texas and moved a lot as a kid, from one family member to the next. She is a survivor of domestic violence and a proud single mother. Her story is about resilience and perseverance. 

Vicki is also a key leader at JUST. She became one of our first English-speaking JETAs and serves as a mentor to other aspiring entrepreneurs. 

What motivated you to become an entrepreneur? 

One thing that drove me to doing hair, besides loving it, is that I saw a lot of women in my family that were dependent on the wrong men. They never had things of their own. My mother was a great cook and seamstress, but she never thrived or did anything with her talents. I knew I wanted something different, I wanted to take care of myself. 


It seems like you were very focused and independent…

Yes, I had to figure out things on my own. I learned how to work hard and be consistent. Learned the importance of investing in myself, my education. I was always very humble and knew the importance of listening, specially to older women who had been stylists for a long time, and asking them the right questions.


What jobs did you have before starting your businesses?

I got my first job at 14 as a clerk at the Elizabeth Nay Museum. That summer, I got a taste of having my own money. I spent my first check on clothes and school supplies. I couldn’t always depend on other people to get those things for me. I started cosmetology in High School and got my license at 19. After that I worked in many different hair salons before deciding to become independent. 


Can you share an important turning point in your life? 

When I was 22 I started working at a company called Visible Changes, they had salons all over Texas. The company was very goal-oriented and they invested in us. They took me to conferences, I heard from famous motivational speakers. I discovered how powerful it is to have a positive mindset. I built a large clientele with them, and I still have some of the clients I met there 30 years ago. 


What was your biggest obstacle? 

In the midst of everything, I got married at 18 years old. I was pregnant at the time. It was an abusive marriage. The more I learned and advanced professionally, the worse things got at home. It was not safe and I left. My driving force was having my daughter and wanting to keep her safe, to provide for her. I had to kick it in the overdrive. 


Did you succeed the very first time you tried to be independent?

When I got out of school I tried to start working for myself off the bat, but that was a mistake. That’s then I started working for other salons, including Visible Changes. After growing my clientele, I went independent again. This time it did work. Financially, it was way better. 


How did you do it to gain so many loyal clients?

I worked full-time and over time most days. Being committed allowed me to grow, to provide a great service, to continue growing and educating myself. I always invested in my education, now I’m an educator. Having the discipline to work for yourself is important. I was a single mother too, failure wasn’t an option. I didn’t have anyone to fall back on.


What is your biggest dream? 

I want to have my own beauty center. Lease salons to other stylists and have an open space to train younger stylists. In that same building I also want to have my makeup store and a space to host hair shows. I really do love the beauty industry, I love what I have accomplished and I want to help other people see the beauty in it.


Your message to other entrepreneurs…

Believe in yourself and your abilities. Be true to who you are. You attract the right people by being the right person, and not trying to fit into another person’s mold. Be honest, always give your best. Be willing to work harder for yourself than you would for anybody else. 

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