When Wauconda native Mandy Garcia was diagnosed with two types of cancer at just 30 years old, it was revelatory. “It started me on the path of ‘redefined,’” she says. “The word itself is what I’ve been doing since I’ve been diagnosed—not just redefining myself, but also redefining what beauty and life is to me and what’s significant and what’s not.”
It was then that one personal hobby became suddenly significant enough for Garcia to turn into a career: beauty. “I’ve always been a girly girl — the girl with all of the makeup and hair products, and I always did hair and makeup for my friends and their kids because I love doing it,” she says. When she told those same friends she was finally considering beauty school, their response was unanimously in favor of the idea—and of how she should’ve gone years ago.
“Sometimes it takes something big in your life to bring forth a new outlook,” says Garcia, who struggled at first with the idea of starting a new occupation after building a career in real estate. “After I was diagnosed, I said to myself, ‘It’s never too late, and you’re never too old.”
After graduating from beauty school (on her four-year “cancerversary”—i.e. diagnosis day—no less) and some time working in the field, Garcia opened Redefined this September. There, she works with six master stylists to deliver a wide array of hair services, including cuts, color, extensions, and Brazilian blowouts, an A-lister favorite that uses liquid keratin to create temporarily straightened locks. In addition to makeup application services, the salon offers manicures and pedicures in a particularly lavish private room, entered via a stately sliding reclaimed barn door. Once inside, clients can settle into a tufted velvet banquette and get ready for heel-to-toe pampering.
Coupled with employing only the most skilled stylists—each one brings with them between eight and 16 years of experience—using the best possible products is a big priority for Garcia. As such, the salon features coloring products from Keune, a 90-year-old, Netherlands-based luxury haircare line that is favored by premier hairstylists worldwide, and shelves are stocked with Kevin Murphy haircare products, a professional, salon-only line created by the editorial hairstylist.
For Garcia, it’s that kind of commitment to quality that she feels will serve her biggest goal day in and day out: to help her clients look their best, and more importantly, feel their best. “Us women are always putting ourselves second, which is why I tell everyone, ‘Get the manicure, get your hair done, and do the little things that we don’t take the time to do, because it’s super important,” she says. “We have clients who come in, and it just makes my heart happy when I hear them say, ‘I can’t believe I look this good—I feel amazing.’ When that happens, I think, ‘We did our job today.’”
Redefined is located in Barrington at 104 S. Cook Street, 847-387-4335, redefinedsalon.com.