Corporate life was fun for a while, says North Bend's Jolene Kelly, and so were the Florida beaches. Neither, though, was quite what she was looking for out of life when she decided about 15 years ago that it was time to move 'home.'
"I knew I wanted to move to Seattle," says Kelly, who followed her gut feelings, more than any particular plan, when she made the move back to the area where her parents had grown up.
The rental car industry—she'd been in sales and marketing with Budget Rent-a-Car in Florida—had been changing, she said. So when she got to Seattle and the position she'd arranged to transfer into wasn't waiting for her, she suspected it was time for a bigger change.
"I wanted to get out of corporate America and do something a little more freelance and creative," she said.
She decided to give Florida another try, she said, but "… the second I stepped off the plane, I knew it had been a mistake… when that hot humid air hit me!"
Not even the state's beautiful beaches were enough to keep her there.
"The biggest problem with me and the beach is I lose all ambition," she explained.
Back in the Northwest months later, Kelly displayed plenty of ambition. She took on a job selling advertising in the Valley Record, and started beauty school, which led to her career of the past 13 years. Esthetician work was a dramatic departure from her previous experience, but a good blending of her work in college, where she initially pursued a degree in psychology, but later switched to commercial art.
"Doing my job is a little bit of both," she says. "I get to meet with people and talk to people and share a bit of their lives, and be creative."
With new clients, though, creativity comes later, after she's built a relationship, she says. "What I've learned over the years is that you just have to listen," she says. "I'm not going to give them the haircut I think they should have. I'm not going to give them the color they think they should have. I'm going to give them what they want and have asked for."
And if the relationship doesn't click, that's OK, because there are many other stylists Kelly is happy to refer people to.
"We've got awesome talent in the Valley," Kelly said.
Her own building at 43438 Southeast North Bend Way, is home to a lot of that talent with various hair- and skin-care providers operating there, all "doing their own thing," Kelly said. "I don't have any employees, I like to do my own thing, and I don't like to manage people."
It's taken her a few years of working at different salons and for herself, but Kelly seems to have found her groove, both in her career -- "I love what I do. I get to do something different every day," and in her community, where she's been involved with Rotary and the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce, and in planning the North Bend Block Party -- "that is totally community centered."
She's always trying to connect people.
"I think a connected community is a healthy community," she said. "We can all help each other in some shape or form."
One benefit of her involvement, of course, is the chance to meet new clients, but more importantly, she says, she gets to see her community grow.
"Some of the comments I've heard from past Block Parties is that people are connecting with their neighbors, people they haven't seen all year," she said. "I think we're inside too much because it's raining."
Jolene's is open Monday through Thursday by appointment only. The best way to schedule an appointment is by e-mail, Kelly says, because "I do not talk on the phone when I'm with clients." Send e-mail to email@example.com, or call (425) 941-8795 and leave a message.