Francis has found her ‘happy place’

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Jenni Francis, owner of a new Elkader salon called A Little Off the Top, finishes a fancy braid for client Jamie Parish.

After nearly 30 years as a stylist, Jenni Francis has found her happy place. The Northeast Iowa native recently opened a hair salon on Mulberry Street, across from the Elkader Post Office. As part of refreshing the space, she turned one wall into the story of her life’s journey covering it with sayings that represent her irrepressible optimism and an “everything will be OK” attitude. One of her favorites is a Maya Angelou quote that also serves as her professional motto: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“I truly believe that,” Jenni said, “and part of feeling good is looking good. That’s where I come in.”
Jenni’s interest in making people look good through hairstyling goes back to her toddler years when she cut her own naturally curly locks just to see what she’d look like. The result was predictably choppy. She’d fine-tuned her skills by high school and occasionally cut hair in the girls’ locker room during study hall.
    After a year at Wartburg, she attended beauty school in Dubuque, completing her coursework and earning her license in 1991. She worked in a few salons before moving on to the education side of the things, training new stylists on several techniques including two that remain strong suits, razor cuts and color.
Jenni opened her first salon 21 years ago on High Street; four years later she moved the business into the basement of her newly purchased house. Her oldest daughter, Stephanie, now a teacher in Guttenberg, was a student at Central. Stephanie was soon joined by two siblings, Katie and Adam, who are now in high school.
After recovering from health issues that forced her to close her business, Jenni returned to teaching. She eventually joined the stylists at JEM Salon and Spa, which Dawn Medberry opened

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