LCC was training ground for Beauty Box owner, staff
Tonya Adams is the owner/operator of The Beauty Box Salon and Spa in Kinston. Her career in cosmetology began when she enrolled at Lenoir Community College after graduating from North Lenoir High School.
"I was initially interested in the nursing program but eventually decided on cosmetology," Adams said. "LCC was a great option for me because it was local and it saved me so much money."
After finishing her coursework at LCC, Adams worked at a salon in Kinston. After two years at that first job - one year as a stylist and one year as a manager - Adams was asked to work for the Beauty Box in 1995. The course of her life changed abruptly when a fire burned the business the ground in February of 2003. In the wake of the fire, the original owner of The Beauty Box gave Adams the option to take over the business at a new location.
"My coworkers said if I wanted to keep it going they'd stay with me," Adams said. "I decided to take it over - which was one of the scariest days of my life. The utilities had to be switched over to my name within hours of making the decision. Most people who start a business have months or years to mull the decision over; I only had one day."
Adams said nothing was salvageable from the fire-ravaged location.
"Everything was totally destroyed," Adams said. "The fire was so intense the brick walls collapsed."
A salon formerly located in Vernon Park Mall had recently closed, so Adams and the entire Beauty Box staff took a week to revamp that location and then reopen.
"We operated The Beauty Box out of the Vernon Park Mall location for two years," Adams said. "Eventually a customer told me I owed my customers a better facility, so I found a place on Airport Road which was our home for the next 10 years. When that lease was up a good friend helped me find and obtain a new facility at 121 West Gordon Street, which is our current location."
Of the 15 people employed at the Beauty Box, seven attended LCC - six in the cosmetology program and one in the esthetics program.
Through all the obstacles thrown at her, Adams credits her time at LCC with giving her the skills to weather abrupt changes and an ever-evolving business climate.
"I've taken numerous classes at LCC beyond the cosmetology program," Adams said. "I've taken a notary class, a photography class, flower arranging, and finance classes. To this day, I routinely check LCC's website to see if there is a class I would like to take. Having LCC in our backyard has given so many in our community opportunities for education they might otherwise not have access to. You can't ask for anything better."
For more information on how you can help a student obtain an education, contact Jeanne Kennedy at 252-233-6812.