New Reflections turns the mirror on itself

Friday, March 1, 2019
New Reflections staff, from left to right: Jessica Baker, Amanda White, Mary Schulenberg, Abbie Wilson. Not pictured: Katie Cedar. / Photo by Elijah Decious

Hair stylists at New Reflections in Aurelia know they do more than just cut hair—and they’re not just talking about perms and color.

Since 2004, owner Mary Schulenberg knows that the listening ear of a hair stylist can be a life saver.

“I’ve had clients call me in the middle of the night just because they’re going through tough times,” she said.

Inside the four walls of the building shared with coffee shop Mud on Main, the salon, named 2019’s business of the year by the Aurelia Economic Development Corporation, witnesses the intimate trials and triumphs experienced by clients as they get a boost in confidence by changing or maintaining their look.

“We’ve been through cancers, deaths, babies, marriages, divorces—just everything,” Schulenberg said. It’s more than just doing hair.

“We are seriously their life coach, I always joke,” she said of the many secrets that become privileged information with her.

But in a way, it’s true.

New Reflections started just across the street in 2004 with stylist Jessica Baker.

“I just got out of beauty school and wanted to open a salon,” she said.

Eight years ago, they had the chance to move into their current place as Studebaker’s restaurant left following a fire. They bought the place, stripped it down to the studs and remodeled everything—putting in quite an investment.

But even with the risk, they knew they could count on their base of clients.

Now, people from all over Iowa, from Sioux City to Des Moines, come to New Reflections to get their hair done. They’re not looking for a wild look, they’re just looking for quality service, Schulenberg says.

“I think it’s just your ability to follow through and do a good job,” she said.

Even through the business’s ups and downs, she has been there to make every walk-in feel like family, welcomed with a smile that lets them know they’re about to be pampered.

And as their stylists have grown, relying on a base of small towns from all around Aurelia, so have their clients’ confidence.

“If you look good, you feel good,” the owner said. “People are looking for a change just because they need that for their self-confidence. Everybody loves to be complimented.”

She gives credit to all of her staff for making the recognition happen too—which she says is “fun.”

“It’s all of us together that made this business what it is,” she said. “Their job is just as important to me, which is why we rely on tons of towns to keep us busy.”

Mary couldn’t imagine doing anything else.