Women’s History Month Spotlight

Celebrating Women In Leadership

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are celebrating the important role women have played in shaping our industry, and world, by highlighting remarkable women making an impact across the Company.
Dana Wiseman
Debbie Wiseman
SVP of Brand Culture and Special Projects

My primary role is to create, support, and lead initiatives that help our Associate’s feel like they’re living our values of Respect, Responsible, and Real by assisting them to feel empowered and thrive financially.


Our mission is to have a strong Guest experience, allow stylists to live their best lives financially, and help them succeed in all areas. In addition, my years of experience in the business (43) give me the ability to provide insight and perspective to new Associates and Stylists. 

Women have been the backbone for change in our world. They have taken risks and served their passions with responsibility and action that lead humankind into the future. Great women in history have managed pragmatically while never forgetting our nurturing nature. Great women have paved the path for us to gain incredible opportunities for equality. While there is much more equality to fight for, we are closer every year as women show up as masters in everything we do.

Behind most successful men, you find great women. We complement each other and we thrive together.

My daughter, Kristin Marie. She was born when I was 19, and I decided as a single mother that I wanted the best life possible and great opportunities for this baby girl who today, at 42, makes me so proud as a teacher, a mother of 4 and one of the kindest, most genuine human beings on earth.

I had great role models. My parents were honest, hard-working blue-collar workers who earned, saved, and loved. While life has not always been easy, an opportunity has always been there, and I have not been shy about taking it, learning, and growing. I love the quote “Luck is- preparation meeting opportunity. “Continuously learn and be curious, and opportunities will present themselves.

My high school guidance counselor told me, “You will never get into college with your grades, so why don’t you take the new program we have called Cosmetology.”

I am not a traditional learner. I don’t memorize things and regurgitate. I’m a hands-on learner, so the trades are perfect for me.

I never had a professional haircut; my mother cut it. I never used a blow dryer or any other hair tool, but I thought, why not!


So I graduated from high school with a cosmetology license and a baby on the way. I quit my job as a movie projectionist at the local theater and went straight to work at the first salon I applied to – Hair Cuttery. The rest is history. I worked hard, was flexible, learned, and was passionate about what I did and the business I built. As I said – work hard, learn, and opportunity will present itself.

Forty-three years later, I have loved the 12 positions I have held at Hair Cuttery. In the twilight of my career, I have loved 99% of it and would do it again.

It’s a great profession where you can learn, earn and love each day!

Opportunity is limitless. Be kind, give more than you take, leave everything you do wherever you go better than you found, and accept all life’s lessons.

Every day is an opportunity to live in the moment, make choices for the future and make others smile. And always, always remember – YOU are enough.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Helen Rewddy “I am woman, hear me ROAR!”

Dana VP of Hair Cuttery Family of Brands
Dana Kleifges
Vice President Salons and Support Operations

Lead field leadership and operations to support our Salons in creating engaging and profitable experiences for both our Stylists and Guests.

It’s about inspiring current, and future generations of women to be whoever they want and know anything is possible!

To be grateful for and celebrate those before us that paved the way to where we are today while having a responsibility to continue to push forward to break the barriers of social justice and equality.

I have had the privilege of working for, and with several influential businesswomen. I have learned tremendous lessons from them, including how to situationally lead, believe in yourself, and stand for what you believe in regardless of the audience.

Melissa Whitehead was my first mentor; she provided me with opportunities in leadership roles throughout my career that led me to where I am today as an executive for HCFB.

Once joining the salon business five years ago, from a referral from Melissa, I was fortunate to find my next mentor, Debbie Wiseman. Her belief in me to do more than I thought possible and her commitment to teaching me her industry knowledge were instrumental to my becoming her successor.

Oddly enough, I was the one that knew what I wanted to do when I took the career assessment in high school. I wanted to be in the fashion retail business. So, I went to school for fashion merchandising/business management.

I joined Victoria’s Secret right out of college, and was awarded into their 2nd class of District Manager in Training Programs and met Melissa.

I then became a District Manager and spent my career in specialty retail district and regional leadership.

Soon after, I found my home in the salon business five years ago in Operations and Salon Leadership.

It was exciting to take all the knowledge I gained from specialty retail and learn a new company that has become an industry I don’t know how I lived without!

Believe in yourself and know ANYTHING is possible! I grew up in a small town, the first to go to college in my family, and through passion, determination, and incredible mentors have been able to live my dream career!

What CAN we do? The key to success is leading with anabolic energy, being the one in the room that models and inspires others to remain positive, see only the opportunities, and be solution-oriented.

We can do anything when we work together and collaborate, promoting a strong culture and sustainability!

Dawn Azzarito
Dawn Azzarito
Sr. Director, Marketing

Lead marketing and communications division with a hybrid team of internal team members and agency resources to support stylist acquisition, associate retention, guest acquisition, and loyalty/retention programs.

Manage strategy and development of marketing campaigns, website/mobile, media/advertising, social media, and automation communications.

Oversee brand management and creative designs for Hair Cuttery, Bubbles, and Cibu, including reputation management, brand identity, design systems, and public relations.

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate women and their accomplishments in history.

It’s a time to educate, empower, and remind everyone where we have been, what it means for women to have equal rights around the globe, and the importance and value of being a woman.

Women play an essential and valuable role in society yet continue to be treated differently across cultures, communities, and the workplace.

Celebrating Women’s History month ensures people pay attention to how women are treated, the benefits of supporting women, and the great opportunity of being inclusive and diverse across genders.

I am so proud of what women have accomplished throughout history.

I hope to continue those successes in whatever way I can empower current and future generations of women.

Women’s History Month is also a time for us to celebrate the contemporary achievements of women across all fields—from business, politics, science, technology, education and many more. By doing this, we can help build a future where everyone has an equal chance to realize their dreams and reach their full potential.

Many people have inspired me and supported me in becoming the person I am today. My parents were the first and most significant contributors to who I have become.

My mother is the driving force and example of love, care, support, and downright fun in my life. She taught me to be compassionate and caring while living my life to the fullest – from dancing around the house to displays of affection and hugs to all I care about.

My father was a key driver in my passion for marketing and creativity. Growing up, he ran an advertising agency in Miami and continued a long career in marketing and sales. He inspired me to be involved in business and philanthropic work locally and internationally.

Throughout the business world, I was inspired by women leaders at Carnival Cruise Lines, like Christine Esteve, who showed me the ropes and taught me so much about creative, branding, and production.

While working at Wyndham Destinations, I learned so much about people, recruiting and retaining teams, and how to inspire large cross-functional groups from Sarah King, former EVP of Human Resources. She was not only my mentor for many years; I considered her a close confidant and friend, teaching me how to engage with executives, communicate across teams, inspire regional partnerships, and guide team members to success.

I’m very fortunate to work with many inspiring women at Hair Cuttery Family of Brands today and take away great learnings for continuing my growth with these wonderful role models.

At a young age, I knew that I loved working with people and leading teams, taking the opportunity to hold leadership positions as often as possible throughout my life.

In my career, I coupled that personal priority with working in a global marketplace.

Having studied abroad and combined my love of language and culture with the creativity of marketing, I landed my first job at Carnival Cruise Lines. Working in their international marketing department exposed me to all facets of brand, creative, and advertising, plus access to cutting-edge technology that made marketing internationally efficient and scalable.

Motivated to continue marketing in the digital space, I continued my journey across multiple industries in education, hospitality, and e-commerce. Each career step led to more knowledge and access to working with data, technology, social media, automation, segmentation, digital printing, consumer insights, and analytics.

Moving into the beauty industry two years ago allowed me to combine my love of marketing and communications with working closely with people.

In the salon business, your marketing efforts impact hiring the salon professionals who deliver the services and guests who come into the salons and build a bond with the salon professionals.

In addition, I enjoy the fun of promoting beauty services and products that build confidence and make people feel great every day.

This role as the head of marketing for Hair Cuttery Family of Brands allows me to deliver a combination of a positive experience for our Guests and a supported environment for our salon professionals to build and maintain a loyal salon business.

My advice for the next generation of women is to continue to lean into what you want most in your career. There are no limits to what women can accomplish. So do your best, hold your head high, continuously push for what you deserve, help pull others up with you along the way, and make sure you are doing what you enjoy and what fulfills you each day.

Forever and a Day, by Shakespeare   

The quote has always resonated with me as a way that I commit to things and my hope for enduring relationships.

I’ve been blessed to work with so many smart, hard-working, successful, insightful and driven women throughout my career. I’ve also had the joy of surrounding myself with these same type of women in my personal life too. I’m so thankful for all of the positive impacts they have had on me.

Joan Braatz
Joan Braatz
Sr. Director, Head of Merchandising

Direct and create merchandising plans, pricing, and operational systems to achieve financial goals and deliver products and services that meet Stylist/Salon and HCFB Guest needs. The “right product” at the “right time” delivered in the “right location”.

Pioneers have provided a foundation for my work. Greats who created equality and opened up space to “sit at the table” in business. As a contributor.  As an equal.

My Auntie . . who runs her own business, at the time I was growing up she was a pioneer.  She was a working woman who also had a family to raise and served with her clients and family with grace, professionalism, and humility. I strive to model her example every day.

I’m a “recovering retailer” who worked in women’s apparel for Saks Inc., May Company, Macy’s and JCPenney. And then I stumbled about pro-beauty and fell in love with the service to the stylist and salon; empowering a small business owner to build their craft, one guest at a time.

 “Don’t confuse effort with results”

Heather Owens
Heather Owens
Director of Learning and Development

Lead the strategic vision and execution made by the training team of all technical, soft skills and compliance training for the development of all Field and SSC employees.

Women’s history month for me is a reminder of how important it is as a woman and mother of girls, to celebrate and take full advantage of the opportunities that we have today thanks to other female leaders, activists and artists who paved the way for what is within our reach today.

My Mom, who was a single working mother, is the number one reason I am who I am today.

Growing up, I had a hard working and resilient mother who always found a way to create a little magic for us.

She always celebrated my strengths and pushed me to be better.

I started off as a Salon Professional right after high school.

I worked five-years in a chain salon until I felt burnt out and almost quit the industry altogether.

After applying for a retail manager position, I was offered a stylist position and decided to give it one more go.

The salon I worked at had a compensation structure similar to what we have at HCFB and knew within three days behind the chair that the sky was the limit.

The rest was history, soon I would take over that salon as the salon leader.

That is where I began to realize that I was more passionate about the person behind the chair than I was about the person in the chair and wanted to spend my time teaching other stylists how to be successful!

From there, I would fill other operational and training positions in the Field.

I gained a ton of experience in curriculum development and eventually ended up where I am today. 

My advice to the next generation of women would be to always assume what you want to do is already yours and then work your butt off to make it so!

“You either walk inside your own story and own it, or stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness” – Brene Brown

Joyce Taylor
Joyce Taylor
Director of Operations

I support the Vice President of Salons and Field Leaders through the coordination of brand-wide projects, analysis, and communication.

This position enables the VP of Salons and Field Leaders to concentrate their efforts on sales generation by ensuring the smooth implementation of all initiatives affecting Hair Cuttery Family of Brands.

We are celebrating the great women who have paved the way for so many of us. To show us what is possible and anything can be achieved. To follow the path of their goals and dreams as we now have the opportunity to pave the way for future generations.

We can become part of Woman’s History Month.

My children, my journey has always been about them. My focus has always been to set an example for each of them to follow and to show them that anything is possible with a strong work ethic and determination.

I spent twenty-two years in the Field leading so many amazing people. I developed excellent relationships with so many beautiful souls.

My passion in the Field was always about them.

“How can I help??” Was always my question.

The greatest gift in leadership is what you  give your team.

Watching them grow-up and buy cars, and houses, get married, and start a family and know that you were able to support them and be a part of it.

So many people ask me “What do you want to be remembered as?”

It’s simple, someone who cared and made a DIFFERENCE for all.

I will forever be grateful for all of my opportunities, learnings, and relationships along the way.

Believe in yourself and others.

Obstacles will always come and go; how you choose to overcome them is what matters.

Stay strong and never give up on your goals and dreams.


“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Ky Cunningham
Ky Cunningham
Director, Talent Acquisition

I started in the medical field as a Medical Assistant. I was always passionate about caring for others and wanted to become a RN.

During this time, the Physician I worked with allowed me to try my hand at a few Office Manager duties including interviewing.

I loved interacting and helping my patients, but I loved the office work more.

I began as a Recruiting Coordinator and worked my way up from there.

  1. Do not minimize your self worth, values, BIG personality, or your voice to fit in small rooms with people that will never acknowledge your TRUE worth or add real value.
  2. Do not water yourself down to appease the palates of those that can handle your flavor. 
  3. When given the opportunity, speak up for those that are not given the privilege to speak for themselves. You never know what seeds you are planting or who may be planting seeds on your behalf.

My favorite quote comes from a song called ‘As the deer’

You alone are my strength and shield. 

To you alone does my spirit yield. 

Share This Post

You May Also Like