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Dawn Vesely, Cost Cutters of Madison

IB Wisconsin's Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet the state's professionals. This week features Dawn Vesely, general manager/district manager for Cost Cutters of Madison.

Business Address: 1001 Fourier Drive #200, Madison
Phone: 608-220-7265
Birthplace: Beloit
Spouse/Partner’s Name: Christopher Vesely
Education: IBA College of Cosmetology

Dawn, how long have you been at Cost Cutters, and how would you describe your responsibilities?
I have been with Cost Cutters for four years. As a district manager, I oversee the operations of my own district of 10 Cost Cutters salons, their managers and stylists in our northern Wisconsin area. I love working with these stylists. They keep me motivated and that keeps me challenged to do better. As general manager, I oversee four other district managers and 40 other Cost Cutters salons in Wisconsin and Illinois, along with all other operations within our corporate office in Madison. My boss is Bill Kaminski, who owns the 50 Cost Cutters salons in central and southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. It is the largest Cost Cutters franchisee in the system.

Who outside the business has influenced your career the most, and in what way?
My parents, especially my dad. They always supported me in my career decisions and helped me as much as they could. They showed me the importance of working hard and being true to your work. Dad inspired me, as he was so creative in his work and people respected him. He believed in giving more than receiving. Over 13 years, as he went through many heart attacks, open-heart surgeries and bypasses, a heart transplant, and kidney failure, he showed me to be strong and never give up. Life is precious and it is worth making every minute count, no matter what you’re doing.

How do you keep up with industry trends and running the businesses?
Business books, motivational books, and CDs. Tony Robbins has inspired me ever since my boss, Bill Kaminski, took me to his four-day seminar. I like looking at the Redken site to keep me up on current trends, and we offer a lot of educational training at Cost Cutters, along with hair shows.

What is one personal high point in your career?
Buying my own salon at a young age. Having someone recognize and believe in me. I have always had ambition and self drive. I used to make things and sell them. When I was only 24, I bought my own five-chair salon.

What is a long-range goal that you’d like to achieve before leaving your position?
I don’t plan to leave for a long time but I would like to be involved in an expansion plan for Cost Cutters, including adding even more salons and hiring more stylists. Currently, I oversee 240 employees.

Did you always want to work as a hair stylist, or in the field?
I always loved any kind of design classes in school. Drafting/ architectural and interior design were my favorites. My dad was a carpenter and taught me how to use every power tool and design projects to build. In high school, I was told that females in this field were not hired, so I thought of something else that was creative. I’m still using tools, just a different kind!

What did you do with your first paycheck?
I started babysitting early at age 12. My first real job was at A&W as a carhop; my parents had me open a savings account.

Have you always lived in Wisconsin?
Fate put me in Wisconsin. I was born in Beloit, where I was adopted and blessed with parents who loved me for who I am. I was raised in Portage.

What do you do “beyond the office” that brings you happiness or relaxation?
I love to be at home. I live where I think is the “middle of nowhere” in total peace where I can spend time with my family, horses, and in my garden. My passion is decorating; when I get spare time, I am always painting and rearranging my house. I am blessed to have the family I have. My husband and children have been a godsend. They have been very accepting and supportive of all of the time I have put into my career. They all have impacted my life in ways I cannot put into words, and without them I would not be the person I am today.

What is your favorite place to travel and why?
A special place would be Charles City, Iowa. My parents grew up there and we would travel there yearly to visit relatives. I have never done a lot of traveling, but on my bucket list is to take my family, mom, and sisters on a Mediterranean cruise so we can see Spain, Italy and Greece – like my dad did when he was in the Navy. It looks beautiful! A good friend of mine took me to Mexico just a few years ago. That was the first time I had ever been on a plane or seen the ocean. I would go there again. The blue water there is amazing.

Do you read for pleasure?
I’ve never been a big reader; I can’t sit still long enough! Books I have read are more enlightening ones. Some that I remember are Take Time for your Life, The Energy Bus, and She Flies Without Wings.

Do you have someone you hold up as an ideal? A personality or character from television, the movies, sports, or a book?
I know a lot of people would say this but … Oprah Winfrey. She has touched so many lives in positive ways.

Who would you most like to be a mentor to, and in what way?
My children, by working hard, being a listener and a leader, and always following your dreams.

What special career advice do you have for someone who is looking for meaningful work in this economic climate?
Love what you do! Have a great work ethic, learn to adapt to all situations and personalities, be honest and forthcoming, and always strive to do better both personally and professionally. Learn from your mistakes and don’t make them again. Find your inner strength to push through hardships. Treat everyone the way THEY want to be treated – you never know where it will take you!

Dawn, we appreciate you time, and we’d like to close with this. Can you list three words you think best describe you?
Creative, caring, funny.

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