Feature Friday: Samatha Miller – Kalon Salon

“If you are unhappy and have dreams, stop dreaming and start doing. Nothing happens without a little action.”

Samatha Miller, Owner of Kalon Salon

Samatha Miller opened her private salon studio, Kalon Salon, in June 2016. She highly values her clients personal needs and provides them with the best in customer experience and hair services. She is a ‘Born This Way’ color specialist, and holds the impressive title of Redken Artist, earned through proving her skills and talent, along with completing a rigorous training program. She is always seeking to improve and learn new techniques and feels most creative with precision cutting and customized color.

From the moment you meet Samatha, you can feel her passion and energy. Not only does she own Kalon Salon, in Midland, but she also private pitching coach for girls softball in Bay City! This woman loves her work and that genuine passion came through when when we met over coffee to discuss her journey to becoming a hairdresser and opening her own salon. This week, Samatha shares more details of that journey and the joys and challenges that come along with owning a business and building her dreams.

Briefly share a little about what motivated you to open Kalon Salon.

Samatha: I have been a licensed hairdresser for about 10 years. I have worked as an employee and a renter in salons throughout those years. In the summer of 2015, I lost my father to suicide and this caused a dramatic change in my perspective on everything. I almost left the hair industry. I was encouraged, mostly by Justin, to open a studio space where I could work independently. This has allowed me to focus on creating greater connections with my clients and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Did you have outside encouragement that helped you to make the decision to start your own business?

Samatha: I actually looked up the definition of ‘mentor’ because it has been a hot word lately, especially in the Podcasts I listen to… a mentor is an experienced or trusted advisor. I am not sure I have had just one or a limited number of mentors in my life. I believe that everyone I meet has experience I can learn from. Every person, no matter their age, background, or life, has experience and expertise in something. The key to that is always to remember that the expert is no longer an expert if they stop learning or growing. 

How have you positively impacted your community as a result of your talents? 

Samatha: I actually presented this question to a few clients for feedback. The answers I received included: “You make me feel beautiful every time I sit in your chair,” and “This is one of the only places for me to relax.” Our mission as professionals is to make you feel better about how your hair looks and we want to you feel a little less stressed while you are in our chair. I have also assisted with a work placement program, donating professional product and my services to men and women to get them ready for job interviews, and educate them on best practices for haircare maintenance. 

What is your favorite part about running your own private salon? 

Samatha: The biggest difference is the privacy you get in the stand alone studio. The space feels a little safer than a traditional salon because there isn’t concern of who might overhear and I notice clients are more willing to let their guard down. I love the ability to let someone talk the whole time they are in my chair so they can get everything off their chest. On the other hand, the privacy of the studio gives clients the quiet space they really need, when that is desired or necessary. 

What has been a difficult challenge you’ve experienced running your salon and how do you work through it?

Samatha: The biggest challenge about running a business is not letting it run my life. It is still an every day struggle to try to find balance between working behind the chair, keeping my business organized behind the scenes, running my softball coaching business, keeping up with client and student communications and still trying to find time to spend at home with Justin. My clients that know me well, joke often about whether or not I ever take any time at home. The truth is, I have yet to overcome this challenge. I am working on it and I believe as a business owner this is a challenge you are always fighting in some form.

What encouragement would you offer to another woman who is pursuing a dream of hers?

Samatha: I will say what I say to a bunch of softball girls, “Stop thinking and just do it!” The only good that thinking does, is keep us where we are. If where you are is your goal, more power to you. I am happy for you. If you are unhappy and have dreams, stop dreaming and start doing. Nothing happens without a little action. I know it is scary but what isn’t? That is life sister. Life is scary. As women, we need to stop holding ourselves and others back. When one of us can rise, we can all rise together. Let’s spread the love and support. 

What is your favorite inspirational or motivational quote? From whom?

Samatha: I don’t have one favorite quote, but I share quotes that resonate with me in my Instagram captions, so if you want more, follow me there! One that I have written on a post-it to refer back to regularly is, “Put your a** where your heart wants to be.” I don’t remember where this came from, so I can’t give credit, but it is a reminder to me that life is full of choices and I choose almost everything in life. One choice leads to another, which leads to another. If you find yourself somewhere that makes you unhappy, put yourself somewhere else. Find where your heart desires to be and make that happen.

Readers — let me just say, “Wow!” I told you Samatha’s passion would come through in her story! This is a woman who has decided to honor her calling. I love her desire to uplift and support other women in the community and in the salon chair, all while helping young girls to be empowered to do their best on the softball field and in their own lives. Thank you for being an inspiration to our community, Samatha!

If you would like to connect or follow Samatha, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram @samathajhair . You can also find her on the web at samathamiller.com

Feature Friday: Avodah Studio

“Every client is different and every business is different and it’s so important for them to feel like they matter… because they do!”

Marie Hickerson is a passionate woman with strong faith and a warm smile that lights the room. She started her business after feeling a strong pull to start her own web design company after earning degrees in graphic design and falling in love with creating visual appeal and helping businesses grow their presence. A lover of the outdoors and a frequent flyer of the local favorite, Live Oak Coffeehouse, Hickerson often enjoys spending time working in the community and making genuine connections — an important key to running her successful business.

Marie shared with me recently that her entrepreneurial journey really began after she held a position in healthcare as a forms designer. She knew she loved design work, but didn’t have the self-confidence to pursue her own business in that area until encouragement came from her husband and several other supporters, who validated her great talent and eye for design. In this week’s feature, Marie shares more with us about her journey to business, how she gained confidence, and how she strives to provide a personal touch in serving each one of her clients.

What products or services do you provide? 

Marie: Website Design and Development, SEO (search engine optimization), Website Managed Hosting, as well as digital marketing with a focus on Facebook and Google Ads. 

What motivated you to start a business in Web design?

Marie: “Ever since I started taking classes to earn my bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design, I had this pull to one day own my own business. I think the more experienced I gained the more confidence I had in myself and my ability to go on my own. That and along with my strong faith and belief that God would be by my side every step of the way.”

Did you have a mentor or someone who encouraged you to start your own business?

Marie: “First I have to say I am very fortunate to be surrounded by so many positive people in my life who are very supportive and encouraged me on my adventure to start my own business. My all-time number one support system is my amazing husband. He is always behind me 100% and continues to encourage me every step of the way. Then, my sister-in-law who started her own business before me, River Valley Laser Engraving, encouraged me and was such an inspiration as another woman who had faith to take a chance and start her own business. And last but not least, is this super awesome guy, Daniel [Terhune], that I worked with and who now, among many other things, manages at one of my favorite coffeehouses (Live Oak). He was and still is an amazing mentor.”

How have you positively impacted your community with your services? 

Marie: “Well, that is a very humbling question because I strive to do more in the community and am seeking new ways to help and be more involved. I love to help other businesses in the community with their online presence and truly get a lot of joy when I receive positive feedback from clients saying how much they appreciate all I have done for their business.”

What is your favorite part about what you do? 

Marie: “Honestly, my favorite part about running my business, besides getting to work from home or my favorite coffeehouse, is the time I get to take with my clients. I am not on anyone else’s clock so I can slow down and get to know my clients and what they need for their business. Every client is different and every business is different and it’s so important for them to feel like they matter…because they do! #doingbusinessmyway”

What is a recent challenge you have encountered and how did you overcome it? 

Marie: “I think there have been several challenges I have had to overcome. So I will focus on my most recent one, which is feeling a lack of connection at times. While it is awesome to work from my home office and not have to drive on snowy roads to get to work, I also do not have the comradery you get with coworkers when working for a business. That is one of the reasons you can find me working from Live Oak Coffeehouse somedays. It’s good to get out and join the community.”

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Marie: Three simple words….”You Are Enough.”

What encouragement would you offer to a woman who is pursuing a dream of hers?

Marie: “Don’t get in the way of yourself. I think sometimes we can be our own worst critic… worrying and stressing that we can not accomplish our goals and dreams. Follow the advice you would give to another woman in your situation and know that you are enough.”

Do you have a favorite inspirational or motivational quote that speaks to you?

Marie: “I have a love for inspirational quotes…so I have many favorites. But this particular quote is my favorite from a business aspect…”

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs

Avodah Studio is based in Midland, Michigan, and was established in September 2016. You can find Avodah on Facebook and Instagram @avodahstudio and on the web at https://avodah.studio. To contact Marie for business inquiries, you can reach her via phone at 989-486-8394.

Thank you Marie, for sharing your story and expertise with us! We are so grateful to have you and your talent in our community!

The Attitude of Gratitude




  1. the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Does anyone else feel SO ready for winter to be over with? I know I am, and if we’re being honest, I have been done with winter since mid-January. Once the “magic” of the holidays fade and the twinkling lights come down and the daily grind returns, the joy fades and the grey sets in, both outdoors and in mood.

I have worked diligently to become more positive and improve my health and my mindset over the last 2 years and I am so proud of what I have accomplished. However, since I am being honest today, I can share that I struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), on top of a history of depression and anxiety. Even while life is good, SAD can sneak in and make you feel otherwise. It can rob you of joy and make even the smallest issues seem like a mountain to climb.

This year, my SAD has been in full-swing and it has taken a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I know that I am not alone in this, as many of my clients pursuing better health are feeling challenged emotionally and mentally lately too. It has been a dark time, even though I really do have so much to be grateful for. There is so much joy in each day, even in the smallest ways, but it can be hard to see when SAD or depression sinks in.

When we don’t see the sun, it feels dim and dark. In reality, the sun is always shining, it’s just hidden by the clouds. It’s the same way with finding joy. There is some in each and every day, but we can’t always see it when it’s hidden behind the negative things that are weighing us down. I’m learning that I personally have to CHOOSE JOY. I have to seek it out and practice daily gratitude, on purpose, in order to keep the “sun shining” in my own world. Beautiful things happen when we allow the other parts of life to be acknowledged and shine through.

Speaking in my own experience from this past weekend, I had to confront some disappointment and CHOOSE JOY. I absolutely loved spending time connecting at our Fill Up Your Cup monthly social event, but felt like it went by so quickly and was over before I knew it! Instead of focusing on the amazing connections made, I focused on the disappointment of going back to everyday life instead… and friends, I felt really low. It felt like I had just gotten started and then the fun was over! I work from home, so I spend a lot of time by myself, and that is SO hard for me some days. SO, after this event was done, I found myself already missing the joyful “high” that comes from community, connection, laughter, and great conversation. I felt deflated.

Despite that low, my husband supported me and encouraged me through it all. Thank goodness for having a strong and positive support person! Sunday night, I told myself that I needed to focus on all of the greatthings that happened during the weekend. When chose to do that, there was a shift – it was a shift in my heart and mindset. I realized (yet again) that I have so much to be grateful for.

I chose to look at it this way… There is an amazing group of women who have trusted in my dream of community and they have joined me and lifted me up through their gratitude. How awesome is that?! The more I focused on that, I started finding joy in thinking of their kind words and their expressions of appreciation for creating a place for them to gather and connect. That is an incredible feeling and I often wonder why I overlook moments like that! So, it is my goal for this year, to keep CHOOSING joy and practicing an “attitude of gratitude” each day.

My goal in sharing all of this is really just to help you know that if this sounds like you, you are NOT alone. The more we share our stories, the more we help others realize that they too, are not alone. Even if it isn’t about depression, but something else going on in your life, know that someone else has been there too. We are more alike than we are different and more connected than we often realize.

You are seen. You are heard. You are loved. It doesn’t matter what darkness is closing in or how it may seem, you are not alone. The sun is always shining, but know that sometimes other things may be clouding our vision and our hearts, so we are unable to see it at the time. I encourage you to CHOOSE joy – seek it out and practice gratitude on purpose. Start each day with a grateful heart and practice this daily until it turns into a habit. It’s amazing how much more the sun shines when we give it a chance to peek through the clouds.

What’s Stopping You?

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve shared the story recently of how I decided to build this community for women in the Great Lakes Bay region. It was an important moment that changed my life. It all started on my couch and came from my personal need for connection and friendship with other women. I had no idea ‘how’ I would do it, and I’m still not sure I have it allfigured out. I do know that I am following my heart and my calling, so I made a plan, and I’m doing it! It has been a wonderful ride so far! Maybe you have a similar dream or another idea that is really tugging at your heart. May I ask, what is stopping you from acting on your dream?

Starting this adventure is one of the first things in my adult life that I am SURE I am supposed to be doing… besides marrying my husband of course. He was definitely a sure thing. I know you probably know that feeling too, though. That feeling or the voice inside our head we all hear when we get ready to start something new. You know, the voice inside that says “I don’t know about this, are you sure?” Yes – THAT one. I can’t tell you how many times I have had that voice creep in and stop me from moving forward with a dream or idea that I’ve had. Sometimes, that voice is called ‘conscience,’ and it protects us. Sometimes that voice is called ‘doubt’ or ‘fear’ and it paralyzes us.

When you think of your dreams and goals, do you think that they are attainable? Why? Why not? Have you realized that most of the time, it isn’t that you can’t accomplish those dreams or goals, it is usually the ‘HOW’ that trips you up? We don’t knowhowwe can do it, so we let the doubt kick in and the fear control us… and then we give up. That negative voice is speaking too loudly again, so we move on and we pass up that dream for something else – something easier. Maybe we even use the excuse that it “wasn’t the right time” or “it wasn’t meant to be.” Don’t tell me you haven’t spoken those words to yourself. We ALL have. I am guilty as charged, too.

It took two solid years of working on my mindset, spending time with the right people and transforming myself, inside and out, before I had enough confidence to build this community. It took tears, energy, resources, and ultimately, prayer. Lots and lots of prayer. It took being at my wits end wondering what I could personally do to connect with more women and create quality relationships and friendships. I also had to turn down that negative voice repeatedly and remind myself of what I am capable of. If it hadn’t been for the health community that supported me in becoming the best version of myself, I would not be writing this and ‘Fill Up Your Cup’ would not exist.

Some say that you become like the 5 people you spend the majority of your time with. I believe that to be true. I never felt called to help people on such an intimate level, in their health and personal lives, until my mentors did that for me. I didn’t know how to be as positive or believe in myself as much as I do now, until they believed in me first, and then I started achieving my goals, one at a time. So, I ask – who are you surrounding yourself with? Positive people who speak life and kindness into you, or negative people who bring drama and discontentment into your world?

Friends, be willing to examine your current reality and determine what your goals and dreams are. To quote Katherine Paterson, “A dream without a plan is just a wish.” If you want to see dreams come to fruition, create an actionplan. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams, and speak kindly to yourself. The things you say to yourself are what you will begin to believe are true if you say them enough. Make it positive! Shut down that negative voice when it tries to creep in. You are only one decision away from a different life. You just need to be willing to say yes, move past fear and get to work. It isn’t a one-day commitment that you will be making to reach big goals. Many days, weeks, months, and maybe even years will be spent working toward them, depending on the goal, but don’t let that stop you. I promise you, the time will pass anyway.