For any college-aged student, deciding on a long-term plan can be difficult. In the early 90s, Pam Shields was as lost as the rest.
The first college major the owner of Mane Attraction in downtown Fulton chose was accounting, but every day on her way to class, she would stop by the cosmetology school on Itawamba Community College’s Fulton campus.
“It was right by some of my classes,” Shields said. “I would just stop in and see what they were learning that day; it just fascinated me.”
She spent two years at ICC finishing her associate degree in accounting, but cosmetology was still calling to her. She identified herself as “too much of a people person” to be an accountant, so she returned to ICC for a third year to attend beauty school. After round two of college, she went to a local salon to inquire about job opportunities.
“While I was a work-study at ICC, I made a friend, Kim Steele, whose sister, Charlotte Rogers, had a salon in town. I decided to go talk to them about a job,” Shields said. “She knew me and decided to hire me and give me a chance.”
While starting out, Shields worked three other jobs to make ends meet, all while steadily growing her clientele at the salon. One day she recognized a familiar face coming through the doors: Allison Forrest, who she’d met at one of her secondary jobs. Forrest was a new hire at the salon.
Over time, Forrest and Shields built a friendship, and when the owners of the salon where they worked together decided to sell the business, the friends became business partners. Shields knew immediately this was a decisive moment in her life, the opportunity she’d been waiting for since turning away from accounting and embracing cosmetology years prior.
Shields and Forrest bought the salon, at the time called Hair Inc., and Shields began to add her own flourishes to revitalize the business, which included a name change to the present-day Mane Attraction.
“I had never had aspirations of owning my own business,” Shields said. “But as I grew as a stylist, so did my confidence in myself. I slowly began to see myself as an entrepreneur. I never would have envisioned this at the very beginning.”
Shields wanted to make the salon a welcoming and inviting place that anyone could visit and leave feeling good about themselves. She also wanted to be “there” for anyone that needed a cut, style, or wash. She began by branding her salon as the only one open on Mondays, and then into the only one open at night, in order to help working-class clients. She said hers is the first local salon to have a receptionist.
“I have always been goal-oriented,” she said. “Every time I would reach the standard I set, I would immediately set the next one. I pride myself on being cutting-edge in the business.”
One thing Shields had to learn about being a full-time stylist and business owner – there are good hair days and bad hair days. According to Shields, the hardest thing for her to cope with is losing a client she’s come to know and love through their visits to the shop. The most rewarding aspect is watching her clients who start visiting at a young age grow up, get married, start families, and live their dreams.
The marriages especially hold a fondness for Shields, explaining the warmth she feels when clients ask her to do hair and makeup for their weddings.
“I’ve watched clients grow up, seen their children grow up and have their own children,” she said. “It is definitely pretty cool. I’ve helped them get ready for anything from dance recitals, to pageants, to proms, and of course their weddings. I’ve been right there with them, watching them through all of their stages of life.”
Shields credits her hometown for a great deal of her success, and opines that the best part of her business is having clientele who feel like family. Her intentions were and always will be to have a business where people feel comfortable and welcome and leave looking and feeling better than they did when they entered.
“I love people and my main goal is to encourage them through how I treat them and the confidence my work is able to provide for them,” she said.
As for the future, Shields finally has that figured out: She’ll stay right where she is, doing what she loves … serving others through their hair.