I grew up in Bradford, Vermont and Piermont, New Hampshire, both very small farm towns that were divided by the great Connecticut River. From the moment I could walk I was riding horses, dirt bikes, 4 wheelers, and anything else I thought looked dangerous and would get me dirty. And when I wasn’t being a tomboy I was giving my Barbie dolls and friends new hairstyles.
I was the little “Outlaw” of my crazy family. My Grandpa and my Mom taught me how to shoot guns and fish, and my Dad pushed me to become an amazing athlete. When I wasn’t getting into trouble, I was in the gym working on my jump shot. It was only because my Dad was so strict, as well as the fear of getting caught by my Mom, that I didn’t become the biggest delinquent in town.
Thanks to my parents, I was able to channel all of my energy into sports. I was a two-time Gatorade basketball player of the year, as well as the Vermont state Heptathlon Champion. I also hold the Vermont state record for most points scored in a single basketball game, and scored a total of over 2000 points in high school. By the time I was 16 years old, I was on the final cut list for the Women’s US Olympic basketball team. I later went on to the University of Reno Wolf Pack and the University of North Carolina Lady Tar heels on full athletic scholarships. I couldn’t have done any of this without the support and guidance of my family.
Once I got to college, however, the little Outlaw in me resurfaced. I decided that I didn’t want to play basketball for the rest of my life. I left Chapel Hill and headed out on my own, not sure where I was going or what I was going to do. Basically, it was just me, my dogs, and $400 in my pocket.
I drove across the country and ended up back in Reno, Nevada where I had gone to school a few years earlier. I was literally sitting at a bar with some friends, trying to figure out what to do with my life, when a girl in a Hawaiian tropic outfit came by our table and asked if I would like to sign up for that evening’s bikini contest. I was like, “No way!” I might be able to go and play a ballgame in front of 10,000 fans, but there was no way I was going on stage in a bikini. Well, a few drinks later my friends bullied me into it. I won the whole thing. I then started modeling fulltime, and became a Hawaiian Tropic spokes model. I worked directly under Ron Rice, the founder and CEO of Hawaiian Tropic. I put the same drive and energy into modeling as I had with sports, and found great success. Also, Rom remains a close friend to the present day.
My association with Ron opened up a whole new world for me, the beauty industry. I quickly realized I wanted to make a career for myself as a hairstylist. But more importantly, I wanted to own my own business. As my Dad always said from when I was just a little girl, I had better be my own boss or there would be trouble! And as my Step-Dad told me, when you take the intense drive for success that my dad instilled in me, and mix it with my Mom’s Scotch-Irish, English and Pasamaqui Indian heritage, “you get nitroglycerine.”
I had the drive and the “don’t mess with me” attitude to open my own business; I just needed the training. So, I spent the next 8 years honing my skills as a businesswoman and stylist. I learned from some of the most amazing innovators in both the business world and the beauty industry, and came up with something new and exciting, a concept that would rock the beauty industry: Outlaw By Jazz.
But it hasn’t been easy. In the past 8 years, it seems like I’ve hit every roadblock imaginable. Soon after I complete cosmetology school, and just 5 months before I was going to marry the man of my dreams, my Mom, who was also my best friend, was killed in a freak accident. Three years later, while I was managing a well-known barbershop in LA and 7 months pregnant with my son, my Dad was killed in a horrific car accident. Then, just as I got the green light to open my own first barbershop and salon, my brother, who was my biggest cheerleader and supporter, died at the much too young age of 44.
I was beaten down, hard. I was so angry and scared. What now??? But I could not be defeated. That is not how my parents raised me. Never let them see you sweat. Never let them know you are in pain. Instead stand up, remember where you come from and make a difference. With the support of my wonderful husband, Marc I was determined to go on. Outlaw By Jazz was born.