By Ed Staskus
The first thing Jody Candow does after getting up at 6 AM is quietly slip out of her home and drive herself to Boot Camp.
“It’s where you work with a trainer every morning,” said Mrs. Candow.
Boot Camp fitness mixes calisthenics like pushups, crunches, and other body weight exercises with interval training. The difference lies in the intensity.
“It gets my workout in, which is partly to keep me sane.”
Back from the gym, her house has come to life; her husband, Rich, a Lakewood, Ohio, mail carrier, is preparing for work, and her four children, teenager Riley, twelve-year-old Kameryn Rose, and five-year-old twins Carter and Ethan, are on the lookout for their mother.
“We tag team, make breakfast, get them ready for school,“ she said.
“My husband drives our son, goes to work, I drive my daughter, the twins come along for the ride, then they stay with my mom, and I go to work.”
The work Jody Candow does is her own, which is the management of her new full-service Kameryn Rose Salon on Linda Street in Rocky River.
She got started when being a stay-at-home mother got to be less of a necessity.
“My kids were getting older, so I started working as a receptionist at a salon six years ago.”
In less than a year she was pregnant again.
“That was a surprise.”
In her second trimester she scheduled a follow-up ultrasound because she was measuring large and because of the baby’s liveliness.
“I always said to my husband, this baby is crazy, it was so active.”
Midway through the test the technician turned off the prenatal ultrasound and suggested her husband join them.
“I asked what was the matter and they said there were two heads. I asked if there were two bodies and they said yes.”
After returning to work part-time, she moved up the ladder to manager, finally striking out on her own. Supported by her family and husband, she reached an agreement with the Sean Luis Salon to lease their vacant second floor. After renovations her salon now features three stylists and two nail stations in a space lit by natural light beneath an open beam ceiling.
“It’s a really nice salon,” said Laurie Fox of Cleveland, her head festooned with silver highlighting foils.
“When I go to get my hair done here I can relax, kind of be pampered.”
One of twelve children, Mrs. Candow lives on the same street she has lived on most of her life, which is the same street her parents, Vicky and Paul, have lived on during all of their 42-year marriage. Many of her brothers and sisters continue to live in Ohio, while one sibling serves in the military.
Once at work, Mrs. Candow’s work is seemingly never done. She leaves the salon to take her twins to pre-school in the early afternoon, and leaves again in the late afternoon to retrieve them and her daughter.
“My son is 16, so he does his own thing with his friends.”
After school her husband rides herd on the family while she makes dinner, and afterwards returns to work, massaging the details.
Mrs. Candow’s long-time stylist and friend Julie Jurek describes her detail-oriented boss as ‘a little OCD’.
“Jody runs the business the way I would want to,” she said. “She’s fair and honest, but, she’s a tweak, everything’s got a place, and everything’s got to be in that place.”
It is her attention to detail that makes the salon a preferred destination.
“It is a place you can walk into and not be intimidated,” said Mary Caruso of Rocky River.
“They are down-to-earth girls, but they are smart businesswomen, too.”
New businesses fail at a high rate, more than 50%, according to the Small Business Administration. Poor management and neglect are often cited as the number one reasons. Given Mrs. Candow’s drive, experience, and commitment to customer service, it is success that seems to be her better option.
No matter the care and effort she puts into her work, Jody Candow always reserves some special consideration for her daughter, disabled from birth.
Born with low muscle tone, Kameryn Rose suffered infantile spasms as a baby, and although appears an average 12-year-old, has never spoken a word, read a book, or ridden a bike. She has receptive language skills, but at a 2 or 3-year-old level.
“She looks totally normal,” said Mrs. Candow.
“You would never know. We’ve had a million tests done and all of them have come back normal.”
After multiple tests by doctors at the Cleveland Clinic and elsewhere, she has never been diagnosed with any specific malady.
“We’ve had geneticists tell us she’s a medical mystery.”
One of the biggest challenges Jody Candow faces managing her new business is the time it consumes, taking her away from her family. When it came time to find a name for the salon, she found the decision an easy one.
“I named the salon after her, because her name is totally beautiful, just like she is, and she’s my only daughter, perfect.”
But, like any girl in an otherwise all-boy family, she knows how to bother her brothers and hold her own.
“There’s no resting in Kameryn’s wake,” said Mrs. Candow.
Whenever the weather cooperates the family spends their time outdoors, the back yard, at parks on the lakeshore, and visiting the Cleveland Zoo.
“We always take Kameryn,” she said
“She’s a little slower, she doesn’t keep up, but we hold hands and just take our time with her.”
It is the ability to care that matters, not disability.
Every day clients come to the Kameryn Rose Salon from as far away as Sandusky.
“When people come here they feel welcome, like they are part of our family,” said Mrs. Candow. “We look forward to seeing them.”
Once her children have gone to bed, Jody Candow finishes her day at the salon.
“Then I chill out a little, go to bed about midnight, and start it all again the next day.”
After two years the Kameryn Rose Salon moved into its own dedicated, modernist space on Lake Road on the edge of the Rocky River valley. “A five star rating,” said Wendy Jackson Richardson after having her hair and nails done, looking like a star stepping out on to the street.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.