Salon With A Twist owner Alison Youngs wasn’t always sure what her career would look like, but she knew she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

After graduating from Ellsworth High School in 2000, Youngs joined the military and then later went into school to become a funeral director -- which wasn’t exactly what she was looking for.

“When I was 24, I found myself making some serious life changes and decided that I wasn’t going to do anything except be a gas station attendant,” Youngs said. “It was at this point I decided to go to cosmetology school. It was something to do til I figured what I wanted to do when I grew up. Turned out I really enjoyed it.” 

Once she finished cosmetology school, Youngs worked in Rochester for many years until -- with a little push from a friend -- she decided to buy a storefront in downtown Red Wing.

Youngs wasn’t initially sure what she wanted to name her business, but while on a drive, the perfect name popped into her head and in April 2012, S.W.A.T. or “Salon With A Twist” opened up.

“I knew ‘Salon With A Twist’ was going to start with what I knew well and that was hair,” Youngs said. “However, I didn’t want to limit it to that. I had a bigger vision for it. Which was why ‘Salon With A Twist’ seemed to be a perfect name. It made it so I could continue to add services and twists. In the beginning, I had no idea what that vision was or where it would eventually take my salon. I just opened up on prayer, determination and insanity.”

The salon currently offers skin, hair, nail, massage, tanning, waxing, custom blend makeup, permanent cosmetics, piercing and traditional tattoo services.

Youngs is licensed in reconstructive tattooing and all of her staff are professionals in different salon services.

“Though my team would refer to themselves as average, I would go to the extent of describing them as extraordinary,” Youngs said. “They are talented and kind and by far some of the best people I have worked with in my 16-year career.  We deem ourselves the bad girls of beauty because none of us fit into a stereotypical box.”

The entire S.W.A.T. team prides themselves on providing a culture of inclusivity, community, acceptance and support for every customer.

“We sing, joke, talk smart and drop an F-bomb from time to time,” Youngs said. “At the end of the day I think that’s what keeps our clients coming back. We don’t just take care of your appearance. We take care of you.”

Recently, Youngs created a tattoo program for women starting their breast cancer recovery journey.

Before a client receives their breast reconstruction surgery, the salon staff will take photos and measurements for later reference.

“When reconstruction is done, we can . . .  tattoo as close to their original nipple and areola as possible,” Youngs said. “If the choice isn’t original, we also have a female traditional tattoo artist to customize something special.”

Youngs’ goal for all her clients is to provide a place that fits their own personal style inside and out. Whether that be a new hair style, another piercing or something as personal as breast reconstruction, Youngs plans on continuing to make every customer feel special and loved.

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