Meet Melissa (Avenson) Gifford | Iowa City Cedar Rapids Moms

How many kids do you have and what are their ages?

I have One 3.5 year-old son, Silas.

What do you love about living in the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids Corridor?

I LOVED living in Iowa City for 15 years! All of my 20s and started 30s with the downtown people, food, nightlife, shopping culture all at my fingertips! The career and friendship opportunities were priceless since the University is always bringing in fresh faces every year.

We moved to Solon in my early 30s. I grew up small town Iowa so I appreciated the community, commute to Iowa City is easy and yet it’s able to offer (with just a few options) an age range that better fit my family as we grew from husband & wife to a family of 3.

What’s your favorite restaurant and/or place to shop in the area?

Lunch: La Regia Taqueria

Dinner: Konomi Grill and Oyama

Tell us about your career.

I am the owner and a stylist at Avenson Salon, in Iowa City. I’m the owner but really my staff makes my salon’s vision come to life! We are a full service Hair Salon with the sweetest Boutique in the Back. Our main goal while you are in our chair is to create a customer focused service, lasting cut/color services, a little education for each guest to make their lives easier at home weather it’s with styling, cut/color or at home products. After 18 years behind the chair, I love saying meeting new people and doing HAIR is still 100% my favorite part of my job!

Why did you decide to become a Hair Stylist?

I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do! I knew College wasn’t going to work out since I wasn’t one to learn from sitting and listening. My Mom said “well you have to try and do something, why don’t we go visit La James? I, being totally immature, said “Everyone does that, I’m not going to copy everyone else. I’ll check out the massage therapy program.” So I walked into the Orientation for the massage program and quickly said NO, I’d have to be to quiet and I couldn’t even pronounce those anatomy words on the board. So I checked the Cosmetology program and it was instantly the perfect fit for me!

What’s the best thing about your job?

Bringing to life what our guests request! Giving them a fresh cut seems to melt away stress and lighten their mood! Giving them the color they want or covering up something they aren’t ready to see in the mirror just yet, watching them smile and instantly get a pep in their step, specially in 2020. It is the best feeling!

How do you juggle work with mommyhood?

I truly could be better at this and I’m working on it! I’m getting better at delegating things out and I’m lucky to know I can trust these tasks with people that have their duties, each other and my business’ best interest at heart! Silas really isn’t the one that feels it as much as my husband. He struggles with understanding why I eat, sleep and breath the business. Silas is living his best life at daycare. Thank goodness for daycare providers during this pandemic!

How has your job changed during COVID-19?

Honestly, we have adapted and there has truly been some silver linings.

  • Masks – no big deal.
  • Extra, extra cleaning – should have been doing these things all along.
  • Operating at 50% occupancy and no double booking – our guests love it, and truly all of us were working unrealistically before! Double booking, no lunch or dinner breaks, no pee breaks (not kidding). We were the damn “energizer bunnies”! We thought we liked it that way, we thought “we can do double booking”, so we should, right? We tried to say our time wasn’t compromised with each guests service, however, in high insight, it was! Many of us raised our prices after we were allowed to re-open to make up for the loss, however we are more focused, precise and just plan a lot better at providing and creating the environment and experience our guests deserve.

What’s your advice to moms in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis?

BREATHE, find a little balance with the “stay at home” but “don’t go crazy”, take some time to yourself if you can, get take-out once a week, stock up on cheap wine from Aldi, wear a mask and try to do a few things that make you feel “normal” as safely as you can.

*Hudson’s Tap, Stella, and Monica’s have space between booths and no seating too close together (since it’s too cold for patio).
*Get a hotel room for just YOU! Dad or Grandparents can watch the kids!

Thank you for taking time to read this. Please consider staying local with your shopping, all of us small businesses would appreciate it.


Melissa’s Info

Avenson Salon & Boutique​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​
159 Hwy 1 West, Iowa City, IA 52246
[Located in the Gateway One Plaza next to Fin & Feather]

Appointments: 319-440-6735



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