By Evan J. Pretzer
Cassandra McGowin has had to travel all the way back to her original home for many hair needs since moving to Wausau. Now, she hopes to change this for others alongside her daughter Layla with Layla’s Beauty Stop.
The pair are the ones behind Layla’s Beauty Stop in the Third Street Lifestyle Center downtown area. The store, which sells shampoos, conditioners, wigs, hair extensions and a variety of other items, opened in August. Grown from the family home, McGowin says they hope to meet the needs of Wausau’s diverse residents.
“This is important,” she says. “Our kids are here. I don’t want to have to continue to drive hundreds of miles away to get services and I was going back to Chicago just for hair and hair products prior to opening up. People are happy to not have to drive so far and we have had young moms with bi-racial children come in and ask about products. I am so happy to answer them.”
In smaller, rural communities, it is not always easy for non-white figures to find a salon to fit their needs. The Last Week Tonight with John Oliver show reported last year that most in the cosmetology industry are not trained to work with black hair. While McGowin is happy to meet this need, it is not the sole role of their space.
Layla’s Beauty Stop aims to be inclusive
“We want to be inclusive,” McGowin adds. “The store is for all people; all races and it is important to get feedback on the products people want to see. We also want more items pertaining to male grooming. Guys have come in here and asked for beard oil. I am not a guy and so I had my husband go to where we purchase products. It is important to me to carry more. Beauty is not just for women. Men see it and think it is, but we are broadening the term.”
Since opening, all who have come in have been supportive. McGowin is thankful for all the offers from businesses to collaborate. Many of the beauty stop’s products can be as expensive as $7 on the low end to $50 on the high end. While many may not realize it, a wig can be convenient and more comfortable than coloring hair or waiting for it to fully thin.
“Some women think they cannot do this, men think they cannot,” she says. “But, this is just one of the better alternatives. You don’t always have to add color to your hair by putting unhealthy products in, this will give your hair time to breathe and with a wig you can wear for two to three months at a time. This means no washing, blow drying or curling before leaving the house.”
The future is bright for the pair broadening the notion of beauty in Wausau. They are eyeing more products and hope to help more people as the weeks turn into months and the months turn into years.
Her daughter’s namesake
The shop is named after McGowin’s daughter, Layla, something that took her getting used to.
“[When I first heard it was named for me] I thought, I did not believe this,” Wraggs says. “This is named after me? Are you telling the truth? [The logo] does not even really look like me.”
More about Layla’s Beauty Stop can be found on the Layla’s Beauty Stop LLC Facebook page. They are located next to Herbal Soap N Salves on the first floor of the Third Street Lifestyle Center, and, as of this story’s filing, are in the process of adjusting hours for the coming months.
Evan J. Pretzer is a contributor to City Pages. He can be reached at [email protected].