GALESBURG (AP) — Right now, a new Galesburg beauty salon is just roomy enough for one client at a time, and that's exactly how owner Courtney Torres likes it.
A quaint salon with vintage touches, The Beauty Cat, located at 95 E. Simmons St., opened Jan. 11.
Despite its size, 26-year-old Torres has been preparing for it her whole life.
"I've always been interested in the beauty industry," the young business owner said, "but when I was younger, my mom said I needed to get a four-year degree."
So she did.
Torres went to St. Ambrose University in Davenport and graduated in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
"But my mind kept traveling back to this," she said, motioning to the beauty product-filled space. "I kept trying to talk myself into doing something with psych, and I wanted to want to go to law school, but I just didn't."
In alignment with the salon culture cliche, however, she has been able to put her interest in psychology to informal use.
"That's what I like about not having anybody else in here — I can focus on one client at a time," she said. "It's not like I can actually counsel, but people, whether they realize it or not, really do just start unloading to stylists.
"So, it just ended up working out for me."
Which became somewhat of a theme in Torres's beauty career pursuit.
What seemed like a series of good luck arranged by a higher power got her to Capri College for cosmetology in 2012, and then got her the space she's currently inhabiting.
Though she's originally from Woodhull, Torres has spent a lot of time in Galesburg, where she lives.
After Capri, she started asking around about available spaces for a salon and the stars aligned. Her pastor's daughter just happened to be getting ready to close up shop, and was looking for another stylist, to who she could refer her clients.
"She's been funneling a lot of people my way," Torres said. "On my first day, I was actually booked solid."
It's unrealistic, she added, to assume business will skyrocket throughout the starting phases, but she decided to open her own salon with the intent to stumble as she found her footing.
"When you're working for someone else, you're not reaping all the rewards," Torres said. "I know this is what I want to do forever, so while I'm young and don't have kids or other mouths to feed, I can struggle."
Torres knows, at the very least, she has two sure-thing clients.
Friend-since-kindergarten Nicole Wakefield rocked her baby as her husband, Dan, admired his newly trimmed locks.
"She really should've done this a long time ago," Nicole said, watching her friend sweep up a surprising surplus of Dan's discarded hair. "She's really great at all of this, and she's always loved it.
"We'll definitely be coming to Courtney forever."