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How does he find time to do hair?
Shawn Smith, 30, has built the largest salon and spa in Charlotte Harbor – while attracting 147 pre-school kids
to his Dolly Parton Imagination Library (the kids get a free book every month, fitting their age). Also, he’s working on
muscular dystrophy, AIDS, breast cancer, the Charlotte Players theatre (for which he persuaded a friend to donate fresh
lumber to build a new stage. Charlotte Players, Inc., whose executive director is Sherrie Moody, is partnered with Smith
in sponsoring the Imagination Library).
And – take a breath now – he also heads a group of 15 hair stylists and spa people, and personally handles more
than 400 clients of his own. The salon has attracted some 3700 clients so far, he reports. And also, he tends to a
relationship with a significant other, Shawn (yes, they have the same first name) Foglio. All they haven’t done is adopt
some kids of their own. Yet.
Shawn Smith’s father is a Church of God preacher
in Eastern Tennessee – Dollywood country, in the region
occupied by Knoxville and Chattanooga. The family is
deep in hair salons, with outposts of one family member
or another in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Cedar Bluff … and
as of three years ago, in Port Charlotte.
Coming from Eastern Tennessee, he casually uses the
word “Mamaw” to mean his late grandmother (it’s a
southern U.S. usage). She and the rest of the family had
a strong influence on his career as a hair and spa owner.
But Mamaw couldn’t write her name until Shawn taught
her how to sign “Susie.”
With all those roots in Tennessee, how did he happen
to come to Southwest Florida? Dolly Parton had an
influence there. “She says,” Shawn relates, “that you must
move a thousand miles from home to learn anything.”
Port Charlotte is the beneficiary. He comments about the
powerful Ms. Parton, “10 minutes with Dolly Parton feels
like all day.”
His business in Port Charlotte is called “Hair by Shawn
and Company Salon and Spa” and it’s headquartered
at 4678 Tamiami Trail, Unit 107, Port Charlotte. “I’ve
always done hair,” he says, thanks to the family’s
multiple salons. “I say I teethed on a perm rod.”
For the Imagination Library, which he launched in
January of this year, his target is to enroll every preschooler
in Charlotte County. Eligible ages are from
birth to five. The library consists of 60 volumes, and the
shipments begin with “The Little Engine That Could.” It’s
all free to the famlies, and there are several individuals
sponsoring the gifts for kids. Some donors do $25 for
one child for a year, and some invest $125 to sponsor
for all five years. Shawn worked out the local program
in cooperation with Christy Crouse of the Dollywood
Says the Foundation, “There is ample research to
support early literacy … the key to success in school and
beyond is developing proficient reading skills. One of the
most important things a parent can do to develop these
skills is to read with their child as much as possible.”
And the payoff is the warmth that comes when a child
pleads, “Read it again, Mommy!”
Stirring kids' imaginations in Charlotte County
by Laura A. Schmid
by Laura A. Schmid on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 3:01am
By PCH Editor Laura A. Schmid
Shawn Smith is on a mission to get children to read.
The soft-spoken, Southern-drawling Tennessee native was shocked when he arrived in Port Charlotte and found out that Dolly Parton’s popular Imagination Library, which was started in his home state in 1996, does not have a chapter in Charlotte County.
So he decided to start it up himself, on top of managing his new salon, Hair by Shawn and Company Salon and Spa, which opened in Charlotte Harbor this past year.
I met with Smith recently as he explained the Imagination Library to me. Make no mistake — Smith is passionate about the Imagination Library, which he has seen for himself bring positive results and improved literacy.
“It would put a book in every child’s hands who signs up,” Smith explained. “It wasn’t something I planned on doing. It was something I did out of emotion.”
But he needs a partner.
As part of Parton’s “replication” policy, as the “local champion,” Smith is required to have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to collaborate with to distribute the book.
Here’s how Imagination Library works: Starting at birth, each preschool-age child — regardless of family income — is mailed a “high-quality, age-appropriate” book directly to her or his own home, according to the website imaginationlibrary.com. The books are picked carefully by parents, teachers, librarians, child development specialists and literacy experts, according to an Imagination Library brochure.
The child builds her own library and, hopefully, a love of reading. Starting at such a young age also is designed to encourage parents to spend time reading to children, which helps to result in positive association with reading.
“It’s personal to me,” Smith said. “My grandmother a mountain woman, (who came from a family of sharecroppers) only had a third-grade education. The Bible was the only book they read.”
Smith relates to Dolly Parton’s urge to start Imagination Library because her own father couldn’t read.
Through the course of his career, Smith said he has met many people who were closet-case illiterates.
“You would be surprised,” said a dismayed Smith.
While Smith has put down the initial 10 percent of the money required to start the Charlotte County Imagination Library, he will also have to raise $5,000 every five years to keep the program. He said this works out to $2.08 a book.
He plans a fundraiser in 2012 to raise funds, but needs to find a local nonprofit who will help him with getting books shipped here and distributed.
If you or your nonprofit group are interested in working with Smith, call him at his salon, 941-625-0060, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Southern Charm and Hair, Shawn Style
By SHIRLEY GEORGE
Local hair stylist Shawn Smith was raised in the Smoky Mountains in eastern Tenn., the youngest of seven children. His oldest sister, Sharon McMurry, already owned a hair salon when Smith was just 1 year old. “I inherited my creativity from my sister, and faith, morality and southern hospitality from my Mamaw (grandmother),” Smith said. “All of my siblings are professionals that include hair stylists, educators and politicians.” While vacationing in Charlotte County in 2009, Smith claims he thought the area looked like the communities in Tennessee before the now-famous Dollywood was built. “I felt that if I could get here early, I could have the same opportunity as my sister and open my own hairsalon,” Smith said. “I saw potential for my business here.” Three weeks after returning to Tennessee, Smith heard a speech by Dolly Parton. She said, “You have to move at least 1,000 miles away (from home) to learn something.” Although the mileage was somewhat less, Smith moved to Port Charlotte three weeks later. He worked in an area hairsalon, and soon word spread about the Southern gentlemen with exceptional stylist skills and good manners. Smith’s dream of owning his own business became a reality. Hair by Shawn and Company Salon and Spa opened in August at 4678 Tamiami Trail, Unit 107, just south of Kings Way off U.S. Highway 41 in Charlotte Harbor. “It all happened so fast,” Smith said. “When I got back from a nine-day sabbatical in Tennessee, a broker who was one of my first clients in Port Charlotte, had left several urgent messages that she found a perfect venue. Four days later, I bought my business.” He added, “I didn’t know anyone when I came here. In a short time, I had hundreds of friends, most of them I met through my clients. I feel extremely blessed with my clientele, who are from all walks of life, and who encouraged me to open my business.” If you’re looking for a way to pamper yourself, look no further than this new venue. The salon and spa has seven hair stylists (stations available for five more), a master nail technician (station for one more), one esthetician, two massage therapists and one permanent makeup artist. With the approaching holidays, consider a gift card for a loved one or special friend. The contemporary décor, state-of-the-art equipment and friendly environment contribute to the utmost professional services for every client. The salon and spa use only top-quality products. While you’re having a hair style, pedicure or just want a cup of java, a Mercer’s Fresh Roasted Coffee bar is available in the salon. Smith attributes his success to good role models like his sister Sharon, and his former employer, Ross Badgett, owner of Ross the Boss and Company Salon and Spa, in Knoxville, Tenn. “I was salon coordinator for three years for 29 hair stylists and 14 spa technicians. I did everything from the creative to the business end, and everything in between,” Smith said. Smith and Sharon styled hair for performers of touring shows such as “Steel Magnolias,” “Hansel and Gretel” and“Dracula,” in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Atlanta. As much as his busy schedule allows, Smith attends hair shows and continuing education classes. Just as he learned that moving to Florida was his destiny, Smith continues to learn new techniques to better serve his clients. “Let me offer you a better day” is Smith’s mantra. Even if you’re having a good day, Smith promises that any service at his new salon and spa will make it better. Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Walk-ins are welcome. Sunday, Monday, andevenings after 5 p.m. are by appointment only. Call 941-625-0060 to schedule an appointment.
Shirley George Correspondent Shirley George is a freelance writer. Contact her at sageorgepa@yahoo . com.
Children reading, thanks to Parton
By BETSY WILLIAMS