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Salon owner took leap that turned into fulfilling career

Even though Cindy Couture-Noyes was always cutting her own hair, braiding other girls’ hair and giving perms as a teen, becoming a hairstylist wasn’t her first career goal.

Instead, after graduating from Pine River High School (PRHS), Cindy received her associate’s degree from what was then Brainerd Community College (BCC) and then attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth for two years for a teaching degree in physical education and coaching.

Cindy had always been interested in sports, playing volleyball, basketball and softball while growing up. She played volleyball at BCC as well.

“My (high school) coach and gym teacher was my mentor and role model, and I thought that was the natural path to take,” Cindy said, talking about Collette Miller at PRHS. “She was an amazing coach and teacher, and I always loved my sports and phy ed.”

But she also had the bug to do hair.

“So many times I’d walk by the beauty school (near her apartment in downtown Duluth) ... it was on the list of things I wanted to do,” Cindy said. “I was always braiding the girls’ hair on the volleyball bus. I was always cutting my own hair. And one day I decided to take the leap.”

So rather than student teach to complete her degree, Cindy attended the Josef School of Hair Design in Fargo, N.D.

Cindy said as a child she would go with her mom to the salon and look at hairstyle books while her mom had her hair done. But she’d only ever had two professional haircuts of her own.

After graduating from cosmetology school, Cindy returned home to Pine River and joined The Stylists & Boutique in Pequot Lakes, beginning what turned into a 20-plus year career.

Peggy Heidt owned the salon, which was where Clearwater Creek Outfitters is located today. Cindy worked there for nearly four years before striking out on her own.

“I realized I reached my ceiling financially,” she said.

So 17 years ago, when her oldest son was just 3 months old, Cindy opened Salon Couture in the Country Corner strip mall. It was just the third hair salon in Pequot Lakes. Within two months she hired a nail technician, and within nine months another stylist.

“And I grew from there through the years,” Cindy said, noting the number of employees at Salon Couture now fluctuates between five and eight.

Cindy spent 2 1/2 years at the Country Corner strip mall location and then another 2 1/2 years at what is now Tim Roggenkamp’s CPA building on Washington Street in Pequot Lakes. Twelve years ago, she bought a house on the corner of Old 371 and Woodman Street and turned it into a salon.

She continues to love making people feel better about themselves.

“Everyone feels better when their hair looks better,” Cindy said, noting she especially enjoys the creativity involved in hairstyling.

Salon Couture is known as a place for girlfriend groups or wedding parties on weekends, she said.

“I love it when I’m at my chair doing hair and I hear the giggling and goofing off on the other side — girls having fun,” Cindy said.

Hairstylists make a difference in people’s lives, she added.

“I love the ability to do that for people — any makeovers we’ve done over the years,” she said.

Cindy and her husband, Brad Noyes, are a “yours, mine and ours” family, she said, that includes Brad’s two sons and stepdaughter, Cindy’s three sons and their son, Anthony, age 5. There are also three granddaughters.

The four youngest boys all play hockey, so that keeps Cindy and Brad busy. Cindy just completed a term as chair of the Pequot Lakes-Breezy Point Advisory Board with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber.

And she continues to do generations of hair.

“I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people by doing their hair or having them as employees,” Cindy said.