News and Tribune


January 13, 2014

A CUT ABOVE: New Albany native opens hair salon while battling multiple sclerosis

Paula Marler realizes childhood dream of opening her own business

NEW ALBANY — Paula Marler dreamed of being a hair stylist when she was a child, and at the age of 37, it was her child that influenced her to pursue her passion and open a salon.

However, a nightmare interrupted just when Marler’s dreams were on the verge of being realized.

Close to finishing her cosmetology school program, she was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis, which affects the nervous system and can cripple its victims.

Confused by the diagnosis, Marler searched for information on MS, and the answers weren’t reassuring.

“I thought really my dream of opening my own salon wasn’t existent anymore,” she said.

According to Marler, the prediction is that her MS symptoms will continue to worsen. Styling hair typically requires a lot of standing, and she knew the diagnosis wasn’t good.

Spurred on by her son, who had encouraged his mother to attend cosmetology school and open a salon, Marler refused to throw in the towel.

She finished her degree and sought out a place to open her own place. One of her school projects required her to form a business plan, and the location she chose for her hypothetical salon was downtown New Albany.

Marler located a vacant spot at 52 Pearl St. near the Floyd County branch of the YMCA of Southern Indiana.

Her friends and family dedicated several hours of labor to revitalizing the suite, and on Oct. 1, 2013, The Red Head Stepchild Salon & Spa opened in downtown New Albany.

It was a dream come true for Marler.

There are days when Marler’s legs are weak and she’s paralyzed with pain, but she strives on with the backing of her friends, family and customers.

“It is difficult, but I have a great group of girls who support me,” she said of the other stylists while also acknowledging the patience of her customers.

“I have the most wonderful clients ever. They understand when I’m having my days.”

Carrie Lowery, Kameron Middleton, Faith Robinson and Mikka Boyce join Marler as stylists at The Red Head Stepchild. Each have their own specialty, as the salon offers haircuts and styling for men and women of all ages as well as children.

Marler said she always wanted a small and intimate salon, and that’s what she has with The Red Head Stepchild.

“I’m able to offer my girls lower booth rent than probably most salons in the downtown area,” Marler said.

The business offers several discounts including a 15 percent rebate to any person with MS.  

Walk-ins are welcome at The Red Head Stepchild. Appointments can also be made by calling 812-941-7373.

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