my job


In July 2014, Sheila Adams will celebrate 14 years as a salon assistant at Juut SalonSpa on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Adams came to the job via TSE, Inc., a St. Paul-based nonprofit that supports people with developmental and other intellectual disabilities. TSE helps clients find employment, provides initial training and continues with ongoing support.

Originally, Adams was hired three days a week. She added two more days to her schedule when another TSE client couldn’t keep up with the fast pace. As a salon assistant, Adams makes sure supplies are readily available. She fills shampoo bottles; washes and dries capes; washes, dries and folds towels, and occasionally puts away other supplies.

Accala Sullivan, manager of the Grand Avenue location since May, said, “She definitely keeps us afloat. She’s always available to help with downtime duties. When artists are booked back to back, she’s able to jump in.”

Sullivan said Adams does more for the salon than keeping shampoo bottles full and towels washed and folded. “She’s a huge hugger. She gives morning hugs and afternoon hugs. You could be in a funky mood, and you get a hug from her and suddenly it’s a good day.”

Adams works from a detailed task list created by her TSE Employment Specialist, Cathy Breuer. The list gives her specific start and end times for each task. Breuer also developed a daily feedback system. At the end of the day, each of the artists Adams supports gives her a sticker. “Green means great,” Adams said. “Yellow is a reminder. If I get a red sticker, it means I was distracted that day.”

What’s the best part of the job?

I love working here. The artists that I work with are super nice and caring. The best part is the atmosphere. When a client comes in, the color goes first, then the stylists do the cutting. It turns out so beautiful. After the client leaves, I tell them, “You two just rock the house every time.”

What are some of the challenges?

Thursdays and Fridays are busy. On Thursday I have to keep up with the shampoo bottles. On Friday I have to make sure that the capes and towels are stocked and full for the weekend. When I take days off, they go crazy. When I leave for the night, they say, “Where are you going? You can’t leave!”

After almost 14 years on the job, do you still enjoy it?

I like it so much I don’t want to leave. □