Meet Lona Elsea: master stylist, owner of Into Wish’n Salon, substitute bus driver for St. Johns High School and full-time mother of four. How does she do it all? Well, Elsea’s love for hair started back in high school at Mt. Pleasant High School. She joined a vocational cosmetology program and attended MJ Murphy Beauty College. Caroline, her instructor, pushed Elsea to pursue her passion in the beauty field and never give up.
After high school, however, Elsea stayed away from cosmetology. She knew she wanted to help people, so she gravitated toward nursing, yet she quickly found that it wasn’t for her.
“I realized my heart wasn’t in nursing, and it instead was and always will be doing hair. Making people feel better on the outside can make some feel better within,” said Elsea. “Working in a salon is one of the limited professions that allows touch. Sometimes a friendly human interaction can make a world of difference to someone who may not have felt another human in months, weeks or even years.”
Elsea’s love for hair sent her to work at the JCPenney salon in Mt. Pleasant, but she wanted more. With a loving family living in St. Johns, the back and forth commute drove her to pursue her dream of opening her own salon. She now works as a substitute bus driver for the same school district her kids attended for extra cash that supports her family and her dreams.
The doors of Into Wish’n opened in 2009, and Elsea hasn’t looked back since.
Not only does hair care help people by making them feel better about themselves, the local community benefits through fundraisers; Elsea holds such a fundraiser where all the proceeds go to Capital Area Humane Society and the St. Johns High School’s athletic department.
From her career journey, Elsea has learned that cosmetology is a lot more than makeup, nails and hair — it’s about making people feel better about themselves. Advice she has for young women trying to start their own business or get into cosmetology can be summarized as one word: education.
“Education offers you neverending possibilities and education does not just come from a textbook but the experiences you share with others,” said Elsea.
Offering special thanks to family and friends that have always supported her passion, Elsea is also grateful for her loyal client base who — about 50 percent — followed her from her previous salon.