by Jessica Hickey, staff writer
Although Mane Street Academy of Hair Design is closing its doors after 33 years, its impact will continue to be felt throughout Owosso for years to come. Owner Linda Miller has graduated over 1,000 students from her school of cosmetology, many of whom now manage local salons. “If you walk into just about any salon in town you’ll find a Mane Street graduate,” Miller said.
Miller knew this was the right time to close the academy when she realized she didn’t have her usual enthusiasm about starting a new year of students. “I always said that if it feels like a job, I know it’s time to close. I’m just ready.” In addition to her students, Miller is sad to say goodbye to her long-time customers. “I have some clients who have been coming here for 25 years. One client is 91 years old and has come in every Saturday; she cried when she found out we were closing.”
Originally from Tennessee, Miller got her cosmetology license while living in Charleston, WV She then moved to Michigan, where she got her instructor’s license and opened Mane Street Academy, a dream she had since she was a student. After all this time, closing the shop down has been an emotional process for Miller. “This is not something that’s been easy for me,” she said. Citing health problems, she added, “My heart didn’t want to close, but my body did.”
Andrea Phillips, manager of Fiesta Salon in Owosso, said she’s also sad to see Mane Street close. “It’s a great opportunity that won’t be there anymore,” she said. Phillips spent two years under Miller’s tutelage and graduated with her cosmetology license in 2003, just two months after finishing high school. “I’ve been in this business for 13 years, and I’ve built a successful career; it all started at Mane Street Academy.” Phillips said that Miller always had an open-door policy with her students and made sure they worked hard to learn everything they needed to know in order to pass their board tests, including basics like cutting, perming, and updos. Miller also stressed good customer service and taught her students how to work with all types of customers, a skill that continues to benefit the community as Mane Street graduates serve customers in shops throughout the city.