Dawnette Wessell has a story of trial and error, perseverance, grit and determination. She grew up in Williamsburg, MI and was bussed into Elk Rapids School. Her beloved teacher, Mrs. Owens, was the inspiration behind her young adult life. Mrs. Owens told Dawnette to be her own person and “not live for someone else’s approval.” That is exactly what Dawnette set out to do.
Dawnette and her husband, David, are the owners of Epiphany Salons, Spas & Academies in Acme and Traverse City. They met when they were 17 years old, have been married for 28 years, knowing each other for 32 years and counting. Their daughter, Brooke started in their apprenticeship program, became a hairdresser, and has gotten her instructor license. Their son, Mitchell, 21, works for Attitude & Experience.
Dawnette and David bought Epiphany Downtown Salon & Spa in 1999. She loved the name because to Dawnette, epiphany is when someone has something beautiful happen to them unexpectedly in their life. She decided to keep the name but gave the salon a new culture and mission; “Places of beauty with peace of mind.”
Owning a salon was never a dream of hers. Fortunately, owning a business was a dream of David’s. Being a very smart man, when Dawnette shared the “numbers” with him, he ultimately was the driving force to buy the salon. They were able to transform it into a successful business.
A few years later, when David and Dawnette were looking for a new home, they went by a location they were considering for a second salon. Dawnette walked in and with her first look, she felt “it” and just knew this would be her second location. Fortunately for them, they then realized a potential rental house was included! Doing all the renovations and remodeling on their own, they opened the East Location in Acme, MI in 2006.
Epiphany Salon & Spas are not only successful because of David’s can do everything smarts, but they are also very successful because of Dawnette’s experience leading up to the salons. It began in TBA Cosmetology school where she learned how to be very professional. Cutting hair was something that came naturally for Dawnette. From there, she met Linda from Justin Parish, who Dawnette admired. During the interview to be Linda’s assistant, Dawnette was very honest and said in part, “I want do what you do. I want to learn how YOU do it my way. The haircuts I see you doing, I want and can to do differently in my own creative way” Ultimately refusing, her first job as an assistant.
Being the resilient woman, she is, Dawnette went out on her own and has been successful ever since. From there, she started working at Milliken’s, a high-class department store, doing nails. After a year of experience, Dawnette got her license in 1989. In 1992, she began managing at Hudson’s. During this time of trying everything that the beauty field had to offer: massage, color master educator, platform artist, she then added massage therapist and cosmetology instructor to her resume. Dawnette realized her passion and that is when her education really started. She’s so good at what she does because she’s always had such a passion behind her work, naturally, that lead her to teach others.
While these job experiences don’t stand out from the norm, her journey getting here has been no easy road. Dawn has had numerous life-changing health challenges throughout this time. Despite several back surgeries, heart symptoms (including a tumor in her heart resulting in open heart surgery), a snowmobile accident, an accident which resulted in her being thrown from her horse, broken ribs, concussions, and more… her adventurous and strong spirit has prevailed!
“Dawnette quips, “Health has not been my strong point, but my mind is stronger than my body!”
Dawnette used very little pain medication during these situations. When she did need to use medication, she used it for the shortest amount of time possible. Beating mental and physical pain, the ups and downs of personal demons so deep and being able to make it on the other side is a proud triumph.
These life experiences made her an understanding and passionate soul ready to help people through their life experiences. There is no doubt that Dawnette Wessell has made a difference in the lives of others and the community.
People need to leave this earth by making a difference. “If there is a way, there is always a way” is my motto. There is so much beauty in the people we touch. It’s not only about hair, but about what is inside you. Everyone just needs help finding the beauty inside of them.-Dawnette Wessell