A Renton woman who was known for being a salon owner and hair dresser for over 50 years died last month. But her daughter is determined to keep her memory and legacy alive.
Jean Newell was a long-time Renton resident and owner of Jean’s Beauty Salon that used to be located on 231 Wells Ave. S. The salon opened its doors in the 1950s and was the go-to place for many in the city, said Joni Battey, one of Newell’s daughters.
Many items from the salon, including the neon sign that hung in the front of the store, was donated to Renton History Museum.
Battey remembers her mother’s hustle well.
She remembers how some days Newell would leave for work at the crack of dawn — even as early as 6:30 a.m. — for appointments.
“The businesswomen in Renton she serviced… she knew how important it was for them to look professional to be successful,” Battey said. “It didn’t matter what time of day it was they needed their hair done, she was always there for them. It gave her pleasure.”
She also remembers how Newell would take only one week off of work each year, and how she would check up on the store constantly during her vacation.
“She understood hard work,” she said.
The 9-to-5 lifestyle was not her pace, she added.
Of her three kids, Battey is the only one who inherited the love for hair dressing. She used to help her mother in her salon. Newell would give her tasks like finding a extension cord if the power went out or reparking customers’ cars to avoid the wrath of the meter maids.
After working at Jean’s Beauty Salon for 16 years, Battey chose to open her own salon in Renton. Salon Dvine — located 10622 SE Carr Road — around 12 years ago.
It took Newell a while to accept Battey’s path.
“I knew I could do it,” Battey said. “I had the experience my mother showed me to be able to work this out. It was a family thing. I think she would have loved if I stayed and worked with her. But it was time to move on.”
Newell wasn’t thrilled at the news at first, Battey admitted, but “deep down she knew I had to do it because she had the experience.”
Even though Battey followed her own path, she continues to exhibit the love and legacy she’s gleaned from her mother.
While she chose a different business model than her mother, she chose to continue her mother’s philosophy of putting customers first.
“She would say, ‘Don’t put off tomorrow what you can today,’” Battey said. “She would also say, ‘If somebody calls in, you take them in. If somebody walks in, you make time.’”
Since her mother’s retirement, Battey has served many of Newell’s customers and the customers’ children.
Newell found her joy in the salon. It was her fourth child, Battey said.
After being a landmark in downtown Renton for over 50 years, Newell had to let the salon go when she was in her 80s due to declining health.
“She was here right up to her last,” Battey said.
Newell died Jan. 26, two weeks shy of her 89th birthday.
This story was updated to reflect Newell was 88 years old at the time of her death. An earlier version of the story indicated she was 87.