For Navy wives, a well-earned pampering

EVERETT — Andrea Daniels hadn’t seen her military police officer husband since late March, when he deployed with the USS Nimitz.

The intervening eight and half months had kept her busy raising twin boys, who just turned 4, and a daughter, who’s nearly 2. Running the household during deployments also has given the 31-year-old Navy wife crash courses in plumbing and auto mechanics.

All of that left no time for trifles like spending a few hours in a hair salon.

That changed Sunday. Daniels was among a dozen military wives whom employees at SWANQ Style Studio treated to a free makeover.

“Good, I like my hair,” said Daniels, who had her already short ‘do trimmed up and dyed “super-bright red.”

“I told them I didn’t want anything boring and that I was open to anything.”

The Nimitz left March 30 and covered more than 80,000 nautical miles off Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Monday’s homecoming for the aircraft carrier crew included Daniels’ husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Daniels, and some 3,000 other sailors. Returning Nimitz personnel included about 30 new dads who had never seen babies born during the deployment.

Anyone looking for insights into the source of the U.S. Navy’s strength would have done well to venture into SWANQ on Sunday.

“Women, we are always the backbone of the family and we’re the backbone of the military,” said hairstylist Angela Perry, summing up some wisdom learned during 25 years in the hair business.

Compounding the hardship factor is that Navy families hail from states as far-flung as Texas, New York, North Carolina and Missouri — leaving them uprooted from extended families.

“They’re thrown into this foreign territory and have no support system,” said salon owner Jessee Skittrall, who came up with the idea for the beauty makeover.

The salon at 7439 Beverly Blvd. did something similar for Navy families last year. The Navy is never far from Skittrall’s mind, with a clientele that includes the likes of Julie Ruth, who is married to the Nimitz’s skipper, Capt. Jeffrey Ruth Jr.

When Skittrall made the suggestion, employees from his Everett salon and a sister salon in Lynnwood gladly stepped forward to volunteer their time.

“I did this last year, too, and it’s just an amazing thing,” said hairstylist Jonni Caldwell, 22, of Woodinville. “It’s almost as rewarding for us as it is for them.”

The salon’s name, SWANQ, is an acronym for Southern Warmth And Northwest Quality. The business changed its name from Absolut Hair earlier this year after attorneys for Swedish vodka giant The Absolut Co. sent threatening letters about trademark infringement.

The salon on Sunday offered far more than a haircut.

Susan Owens, 37, of Marysville got coloring, highlights, makeup and waxing, plus a break from her routine, which includes rearing three children, ages 8, 5 and 2.

“This was fun, a lot of fun,” she said, shaking her wavy, caramel-colored locks. “It makes me feel very special.”

She was ready to reconnect with her husband, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jim Owens.

Ana Sills, 20, of Everett, took a break from homework and bills enjoy a good pampering. She emerged from the stylist’s chair with an angled bob cut, colored chocolate with red accents. It was almost time to see her husband, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Sills.

“It makes you feel gorgeous again,” she said. “Here’s the new me, here’s the new beginning.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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