DIXON – If there’s one thing that the trio of stylists at Hydrate Salon and Spa agree on, it’s that they prefer to have a comb and clipper in hand rather than a keyboard under their fingertips.
After years climbing the corporate ladder, owner Janice Swegle, 29, grew tired of living in Chicago, working 80 hours a week and missing her family back in Dixon.
So she took a leap of faith, quit her job at the Willis Tower and came home to pursue her dream of opening a spa.
“I remember coming home from a business trip and calling my mom because I was exhausted from the built-up stress,” Swegle said. “I had no free time and I started to question what I was doing with my life.”
For 6 months, she saved every last penny she could, then quit her job and moved back home.
That was just over 2 years ago. Since then, she went back to school to learn the ins-and-outs of beauty, and opened Hydrate in July.
“I almost missed my life’s calling. It was a scary jump, but I haven’t looked back since,” Swegle said.
The salon’s clean lines and minimalist look – black accents, wood details, and plants, pulled together by crisp, white walls – are Swegle’s aesthetic, but her parents, Mark and Terri Swegle, 57 and 56, have helped with everything from the lawn care to installing the sign outside the front door.
“Probably the biggest influence was my older sister, Jill (Swegle) Hayes. She wanted to open a spa and salon too, but life took her in another direction.
“We tossed around names for weeks, and one day we were talking about the vision for the salon and said we wanted people to come here and feel rehydrated, and that was it,” Swegle said.
With her desired look and vibe achieved, Swegle’s next step was to find stylists. She chose Bethany Wright, 29, and Kaila Langley 27, for their expertise, and for their shared stories.
Wright is a certified Redken hair colorist who prides herself on continuing her education and understanding the science behind coloring and cutting techniques.
The Dixon native didn’t start out as a stylist, though: Seven years ago, Wright was an EMT dispatcher in Naperville, but also wasn’t happy about the path she was on.
“I was stuck in life so, I called my pastor. We prayed to see what the next step in life was for me, and God told me to school to study hair,” Wright said.
“I’m much happier now, I have a better work-life balance and can spend time with my husband, Nathan Wright, and daughter, Gianna [who’s 3].”
It’s the opportunity to have a positive influence on people day-in and day-out that she likes best.
“This is a safe environment to love on people and open up. We’re here to listen and help you look and feel better. Faith is a huge part of my life, and I love the opportunity to help build someone up every day,” Wright said.
When it comes to hair, her preference is to create an effortlessly lived-in style.
“Hair designing is my creative strength, and I’ll do what’s best for each person’s hair lifestyle,” Wright said.
It’s nearly the same story for Langley, who always dreamed of being a hair stylist – “I grew up in the salon where my mom worked in Colorado, but I just went to college and worked at a Wells Fargo.”
Then she and her husband, Travis Langley, 32, moved back to his hometown. “I had the choice to go back to a bank job or do what I was passionate about,” she said.
The gamble paid off, and Langley found her equilibrium at Hydrate, enjoying time with her husband and Paisley, their 4-year-old daughter.
She loves positive impact she can have on people, “I have the power to make someone’s day, and make them feel and look beautiful.
“I really pride myself on being able to look at a picture on Pinterest and achieving that look.”
Hydrate Salon and Spa, 716 N. Galena Ave. in Dixon, is open by appointment from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Find Hydrate Spa and Salon on Facebook or @hydratesalonandspa on Instagram; contact owner Janice Swegle at @the815beautychef or 847-707-7617, and stylists Bethany Wright at @bethanywrighthair or 815-973-4332 and Kaila Langley at @kaila_lang or 312-625-1971.