Ashley Whittle Tiedt The smell of all-natural shampoo hits you when you walk into the lobby of Doug’s 2 Salon and Spa. The second you breathe it in, you are transported to a world of pampering, relaxation and the coveted “me time.” That’s just the experience owner and operator Doug Rice wants you to have when you enter his salon.
Rice knew from a young age that he wanted to be a hairdresser. He would watch the stylists at the salon his mother used and then practice on his little sister. When he was 14, the owner of the salon gave him a job washing hair. He had a passion even then, but he had to convince his parents to allow him to skip college and head straight to cosmetology school. “My mom didn’t want me to do it,] and my dad didn’t either. They wanted me to go to college. So the last six weeks of high school, they agreed that I could go. I graduated in May and I started cosmetology June first, before they could change their mind.”
Rice moved to Montgomery shortly after graduation. He worked for three months before moving to another salon. Rice was there for three years before the owner sold the salon to him and three others. In a few years, he had bought the other owners out. After 25 years owning that salon, Rice decided to expand the salon to include a spa. Ten years later, Doug’s 2 moved to the Peppertree Shopping Center on Vaughn Road and are continuing to ride their wave of success.
After 41 years of hairraising success it’s safe to say that Doug Rice has seen and heard it all. Perhaps it’s because of the special relationships he has formed with his clients over the years. Rice says, “We’re called hair therapists, because we do many jobs...we’re like the priests. We keep it quiet, because they know they can talk to us.... we know more about families than the families know. I’ve got clients I’ve been serving for the whole 40 years I’ve been in business. I know way more than their kids know. I just tell them it goes in here (points to left ear) and out there (points to right ear) because it’s like talking to a priest. You keep it quiet.” It’s no secret that Rice has a special talent when it comes to styling but he says it’s about building a trusting relationship with clients.
Perhaps what keeps the clients coming back to the salon is the family atmosphere that you are entering into. “My biggest joy is working with people, whether it’s my staff or clients, because that is my life it’s people,” said Rice. In the early years, the staff attended retreats in Hammond, Louisiana, where they would participate in teambuilding exercises while learning about teamwork and staying healthy. The retreats helped the staff to stay connected as family. Rice says they are always looking to better themselves. He also requires that his stylists attend two continuing education classes each year to remain employed.
It’s because of that family relationship that Doug Rice is here today. 31 years ago, he was diagnosed with a kidney disease, Focal Glumaria Sclerosis, and was told he had about five years to find a kidney or he would have to go on dialysis. The doctors discussed the diagnosis with Rice and suggested a new way of life to help combat the disease. He changed his diet and the way he lived and made it 31 years before a transplant was required. When he announced the need for a transplant, many on his team offered to see if they were a match. Guy, his partner of nearly 38 years, had already offered his kidney. Unfortunately, during the surgery, thesurgeon tore Rice’s main vein and surgery and the transplant was immediately halted and efforts to save his life were underway.
Rice credits his faith in God for giving him peace in such a difficult time. “I just said ‘well it wasn’tin God’s plan.’ I accepted it. I have a lot of faith in God that it is what it is supposed to be and moved on. I was the calmest one of everybody,” Rice said. While Rice’s life was saved, the kidney was not and the search for another kidney began. Staff member Kelly Hoots stepped up and asked to be tested to see if she was a match, and she was. In April of 2017, Rice went in for the second transplant attempt and it was successful. Rice says, “It’s odd for me to look at hereveryday and think she’s inside me, but it is also a blessing.”
Now Rice is back in his happy place, behind the chair serving as a hair therapist and “priest” to his clients in Montgomery. “After you’ve worked for 41 years, you learn a lot and I was going to be a psychiatrist if I hadn’t done this...it was great that the two worked together,” he said. While Rice may consider himself the hair therapist, having his salon and clients to come back to may have been all the therapy he needed after the transplant.