Beauty salon

After abuse, owner of Milford beauty salon and spa Devine gives back

MILFORD — Jennifer Devine has always dreamed of opening her own salon and spa.

But her hopes seemed dashed, as personal issues played a part in delaying her road to show success. It wasn’t until the height of the pandemic — with just three clients in hand — that Devine finally decided to embark on the journey to entrepreneurship. Last week, she celebrated her dream come true.

“I went straight to hairdressing school after graduating from high school in 2006,” Devine said. “It’s still part of my dream, but I really restarted my career during the pandemic. I started from zero in June 2020, with three clients, and decided to give it my all despite a lot of people telling me to take a different path, and I would not succeed.

“I’m standing here, a little over a year later, in my own living room,” she added. “It’s literally a dream come true.”

Devine’s personal journey, which she says includes her experience as a survivor of domestic violence, has also impacted her work.

Getting through the tough times has allowed Devine to find her purpose in her career.

“My goal is to help others,” she said. “I truly believe that God gave me this talent and this gift because when I have someone’s attention, I have their ears for them to listen.

“There’s an expression that says God takes you out of the fire so you can go back and help others,” Devine added. “I think that’s why I went through my fights.”

Devine held the grand opening of her Devine Beauty Salon and Spa at her location at 100 Lansdale Ave. September 18.

“I prayed for this place and got everything I wanted,” she said. “My real estate agent asked me what my dream living room looked like. I told him that I wanted a large open space with lots of lighting and large windows for natural light and a nice square with lots of seating. parking, and I also wanted additional rooms for additional services.”

The realtor asked Devine when she wanted to move into the space, and she said she’d like to be there before Christmas.

“I signed this lease in December before Christmas,” Devine said. “My faith is much bigger than my fears, which helps me through.”

Devine said her children were her motivation.

“My kids always come first, and I wanted to have a career where my schedule worked around my kids, not my kids around my schedule,” she said. “They are what drives me and my why in everything I do.”

Devine said there was a time when they didn’t have hot water and she had to boil water on the stove to give her children baths.

“I never forget that moment,” she said. “I looked my kids in the eye and said, ‘I promise you, we’ll never be in this position again. Failure is therefore not an option.”

Devine said she now tells people not to be afraid to ask for help.

“I tell people it’s okay not to be well, but ask for help, don’t be afraid to reach out,” she said. “Reach out to friends because a lot of people don’t know what other people are going through, especially when it comes to domestic violence.”

In 2021, the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence received 41,654 calls from victims requesting services or information and a total of 38,989 victims were served.

In Milford, the Umbrella Center for Domestic Violence Services says that from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, it had 224 clients who engaged in services, said Cindy Carlson, program manager.

“It’s heart-warming when a person breaks free from violence. It’s so important,” Carlson said. “It should be all of our goals to help our neighbors, colleagues and friends have a life where they are respected.”

Devine said she created a social media series called “We Only See Half.”

“I created this makeup, which is art, but it’s so symbolic of people going through silent struggles,” she said. “One side of my face is normal with normal makeup, but on the other side of my face I have the struggles I’ve been through in my life. I did this show because not all the hurts are not visible, especially when it comes to abuse, it’s not just physical, and I think we need to educate society about the different types. If we raise awareness and educate, we can potentially save lives.

Devine said she called the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) and The Umbrella Center.

“I think a lot of people stay because they don’t know what kind of help is out there or they think it’s their fault,” she said. “If anyone is in a domestic violence situation, please contact them and create a safety plan before you leave.”

Devine said she now uses her experiences and talents to help others.

“I really feel like my mission is to help others throughout my career,” she said. “I want people to not only feel beautiful and pampered when they come, but to feel inspired.”

Even with the tough times she’s been through, Devine said she can confidently say she wouldn’t be the same person she is today if she hadn’t been through those tough times.

“It literally rebuilt me ​​and I’m grateful for all the tough times,” she said. “All the rocks that people run through me, I use them to build the top of my mountain to climb.”

Now that Devine has her business and is in a better position in life, she said she wants to give back to all the organizations that have helped her through this difficult time.

“October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I’m working with The Umbrella Center for collection and donations,” she said. “No one should be turned away from a safe haven. All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to the Umbrella Center to continue providing shelter for people trying to get out.”

The Beauty From Ashes fundraiser will take place from 4-6 p.m. on October 23 at Devine Beauty Salon and Spa, where guest speakers will be survivors of domestic violence. There will also be raffles, appetizers and refreshments, and Devine said a $25 cash donation at the door is encouraged, with all proceeds going to the Umbrella Center.

Besides the fundraising event, Devine opened her business as a drop-off location for donated items for The Umbrella Center. Items needed are twin sheets, duvets, pillowcases, deodorant (for men and women), hairbrushes/hair ties, shampoo and conditioner, travel toiletries, towels and socks.

“I don’t want to be known as a victim of domestic violence. I want to be known as someone who has overcome hardship,” Devine said. “I want others to know that it’s not their fault what happened, but it’s their duty to overcome and start their lives over and make their lives what they want. These are they who control.”