Family Affair: Grandma and granddaughter working side-by-side at the Golden Tress Salon | Spa

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

For nearly 50 years, Jan Alm has seen just about everything as a hairstylist from starting out, to owning her own hairstyling business and for the past 18 years working as a stylist at the Golden Tress Salon | Spa in Austin.

Over the years, Alm has worked for a salon called Mr. Terry’s and owned two of her own salons before moving to the Golden Tress.

However, these days she’s also getting the experience of working directly with family. In this case, it’s her granddaughter Madelyn Lenz.

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“When she told me, ‘Grandma, I’m going to do hair,’ I said, ‘what? Are you kidding me?’” Alm remembered thinking at the time. “‘Are you sure you want to do that because it’s a lot of hours on your feet?’”

But Alm quickly came to realize that Lenz’s mind was set and in some ways it was a natural progression to the chair. Lenz started at business as a receptionist for Golden Tress, but her mind had already turned that direction in the years prior to that.

Lenz remembered coming to the Golden Tress with her mom when she got her hair done. Lenz remembered becoming comfortable with coming to the establishment, and after graduating from Riverland Community College’s cosmetology program just this year, the Golden Tress was a target.

“It was an easy (decision) because she was here,” Lenz said, looking across the room to Alm. “And I kind of thought because I knew everyone that was here, it would be easier to get questions answered comfortably.”

Not that Lenz turns to Alm on a regular basis.

“Grandma, you can watch me, but don’t tell me if I’m doing it wrong. If I need help I will ask,” Alm said, repeating what Lenz said early on. “If I see something (Lenz) is struggling with, she will give me that look that she needed help.”

And the help has always been welcomed.

“I ask her questions and she helps me a lot,” Lenz said. “She’s gotten a lot of hugs from me for saving me in dire need.”

The opportunity to work together hasn’t just been a gift of family time, however. It’s also been another chance to learn.

Both stylists come from different backgrounds when it comes to styling, with different trends highlighting different time periods. What was once popular when Alm started out, may no longer be a trend. The reverse is true for Lenz.

“We did not do foiling like they do in school now,” Alm said. “It’s different because in this age it’s casual. If you go to New York or Chicago, you will see fashionable hairdos.”

It’s been an opportunity for the two to trade insights and in a fashion, continue education in a unique sort of way.

“School only teaches you the basics,” Lenz said. “When you’re here, you learn everything basically on the job.”

That’s a sentiment that carries throughout the salon, something owner Marsha Leathers has nurtured among the stylists working at the full service salon.

“What do we learn from them? We learn a lot,” Leathers said. “All the girls that work here, they get bits and pieces from all of us. It all comes together really darn well.”

As for experiencing grandma and granddaughter working together, Leathers said it simply adds to the enjoyment of the job.

“It’s great. I love it,” she said. “I think it’s just wonderful.”