We had the good fortune of connecting with Jo Thomas Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jo Thomas, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Well, I wanted to create a space where all people could feel like themselves. Most salons focus on looking cool for themselves, while creating a comfortable environment. And don’t get me wrong, I have an esthetic. But my main focus is my client. The person I’m holding space for. I wanted to create a space that everyone feels welcome and the walls of insecurities crumble down.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art takes many forms and has ever since I was a little kid. I write, draw, sing, dance, and all of that is super fun for me. But the art I make money on is hair and helping people ground. Which is funny, because I’m a fire sign. But hair is my medium for seeing people. People need to be seen. They need to be heard and understood. They don’t need my opinion about what’s trendy or cool. They need me to listen to them and create a haircut that reflects back exactly what they want to see. And my job is to give them space to show me who they are. I believe your reflection matters. If you can stare into a mirror at yourself and feel seen, then the rest of the world will have an easier time seeing you. Doesn’t matter how different you are. The world needs you exactly as yourself.
My journey is personal. I began a gender queer journey as a teen and began transitioning in my early 30’s. It’s been really hard, because I’ve never felt at home in my body, since puberty. There have moments of love, but very few. I have always been expressive in clothing and hair and jewelry and later on, got into tattoos. Now I see myself a little more clearly. I like being decorated. I like having chest surgery. I like looking like myself. I feel good. I feel like me and that inspired me to want to hold space for others. To be seen through a haircut and conversation. And if you’re feeling extra curious I’ll pull some cards for you or give you an intuitive head massage.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, hopefully it’s summer, because we’re definitely going kayaking on the broad river. I love Broad River Outpost! They are so nice and the trip down the river is lovely. We would definitely eat at Clocked downtime and check out Wonder Bar, Manhattan Cafe, Flicker, Creature Comforts Brewing, and Little Kings. And the funny thing is I don’t even drink anymore. But those spots are really cute. We would get coffee at Buvez and 1000 Faces. Definitely visit Southern Star Studios for some pottery, Dynamite Clothing for a vintage find, Starlight Showroom to see what’s good, oh and grab bubble tea at Bubble Cafe. Also a stop at Indie South and Margos and a walk around the Greenway and nature trails. And Hopefully we’d catch The Pink Flamingo out and about. Ending our nights on my front porch, with the chance of live music from the garage band next door. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A ton of people deserve all the shoutouts in the story of my evolution. But the main people I’m grateful for are my clients and my family. The small businesses I’ve connected with in Athens have been amazing and the community here has welcomed me. To name a few spots that I feel extra grateful for, Dynamite Clothing, The Pink Flamingo, Shop Totally Taylored.
At the end of the day, my wife, Megan, has been my biggest supporter. Day after day helping me create my dreams and never doubting my ability.
Facebook: My Heart Salon Studio
Yelp: My Heart Salon Studio
Photo by Julia Duffy Logo by Tower Press