As the saying goes, “Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.” Jody Ninneman owner of Shape, Wrap and Roll salon in Milbank, could have written that. Jody grew up in salons owned by her mother, Bev Argo.
Bev operated home salons for 22 years. She opened the first one in 1985 when Jody was five years old. The rural shop called Country Mirror Salon catered to people in the Peever and Wilmot area. Later she moved into Wilmot and renamed it Bev’s Cut Hut.
Jody remembers it well. “I spent more time in that salon than outside. I would watch everything. I liked to organize, clean the shelves, and sort the perm rods. That was my childhood.”
She also remembers waking up to the smell of a perm. “I didn’t need an alarm clock because Mom would start giving perms early in the morning and my bedroom was right next to the salon. I was not a morning person, so if I woke up late, I would get yelled at because I was taking all the hot water and she couldn’t rinse someone.”
Bev also remembers when Jody was a teenager she would talk on the phone for hours. “At that time, we only had a landline. She liked to talk and wanted to for hours, but I was trying to run a business.”
“I got yelled at so many times to hang up,” Jody said. “Finally, I figured out I couldn’t use the phone until 7 p.m. when the salon closed.”
Jody loved being in the salon and always had cosmetology in mind for her career, too. But, she said, “I really liked art, and I might have become an artist. Somehow, though, that seemed like a lonely, quiet world.” She also explored the idea of becoming a pharmacist, but her creative side won out. “Really, I didn’t know anything else but cosmetology,” she said. “I love to be around people.”
But that wasn’t always true for Jody or Bev. The beauty business helped them both to become more outgoing. ” I was very shy until about fourth grade. When I was young and in the beauty shop, I didn’t say anything at all,” Jody said.
“I was shy too, Bev said, but cosmetology helped me come out of my shell. Now, I thoroughly enjoy talking with people.”
Another thing Jody and Bev share is the name on their cosmetology diplomas – Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown. Bev graduated in 1975 and Jody in 1999. And, not only did they attend the same school, but they had the same instructor – Miss Deloris. “She was so much fun,” Jody said.
Upon graduation, Jody worked at the JCPenney salon in Watertown for almost two years. “My husband, Brian, and I were bored in Watertown and we were looking to move someplace else. We thought we would end up in Sioux Falls where there was more to do. But one day, I saw an ad for a salon for sale in Milbank.” At 21 years old, the thought of owning her own salon was exciting. “Brian was from Milbank and I was from Wilmot, so a salon in Milbank was perfect. I figured owning my own salon – I would never be bored again. So, we went for it!”
Jody bought Shape, Wrap and Roll from Jennifer Woodward. Two years later, she relocated the business from the corner of Main Street to the Keller Realty building which now houses Grajczyk Law Office. “I felt I needed to update the look a little.” Four years later, when she expanded the business to include tanning beds, she needed a larger space. She moved back to Main Street next to Triple Dip Lodge and remained there for eight years. “Being uptown, the rent was a bit more, so I needed to have other stylists. My heart wasn’t into the management that was needed, and I began to have physical reactions to the chemicals we were using.”
Bev had closed her last shop in 2007. Shortly after that, a sciatic nerve issue changed her life. “I was in pain all the time,” she said. “Someone mentioned reflexology might help and it worked!” Bev was so excited to be pain free, she decided to study reflexology. It became her new career in 2012 and a new service at Jody’s salon on Main Street.
Jody was also ready to make a change. She began searching for a family home that could accommodate her salon. It took two years until “the timing was right and everything fell into place,” she said. “It’s where we are today.” Her mother again at her side.
But working side-by-side as mother and daughter is not like most people imagine. “We hardly talk to each other. Mostly just ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’,” Bev said. “We are both into our own clients and doing our own thing. We’re both very independent.”
“Our clients get all of our attention instead of each other,” Jody said. “Plus, we are both workaholics.”
Many mother daughter teams are fraught with emotion. One minute they’re yelling or crying, the next they’re laughing. Not this one. “We really do get along so well, it’s amazing,” Jody said. Occasionally tiffs happen, but nothing major. “My mom loses her keys like 42 times a day. She can’t ever find her phone either,” Jody said and laughed. “The biggest disagreement we have is about a certain product. She hates it and I love it. Otherwise, things are great. My mom is really lucky she gets to hang out with me everyday,” she said, and her mom laughed.
We are happy doing what we do,” Bev said. “Even though we might not have long conversations during the day, how many moms can say they get to see their daughter five days a week, 52 weeks a year? And when you love what you are doing, it feels like you are not even working.”