Making an Impact During the COVID Crisis, One Person at a Time: Alli Swanson, the Loving Image Shaper


As a young girl, Alli was the gregarious and outgoing one. Her older sister by 17 months always sent Alli ahead to meet new friends and try new experiences. It seemed everyone she came into contact with became a friend.

She had a natural gift for making friends. Perhaps it was because she started out by liking and being genuinely curious about them.

Her friends describe her as fun-loving, empathetic, caring, kind, patient, generous, an excellent listener, and a trusted friend.

In middle school, she enjoyed braiding her sister’s and friends’ hair and then trying out new hairstyles. They loved it when she made them look beautiful. Then came the makeup, nail polish and hair color. Alli joyfully assisted everyone in her circle to look their best. Her services were in high demand.

The bathroom she shared with her sister looked like the work sink and mixing station at a beauty parlor! And it smelled like a laboratory! But one thing was clear to Alli, she loved helping others look beautiful and she was passionate about making a bigger impact with her talents.

After graduation from high school, she chose the Aveda Institute for cosmetology training. The purpose of Aveda resonated with Alli and her values: “To care for the world we live in. To strive to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility, not just in the world of beauty, but around the world.”

She was a natural. A quick study. She rapidly developed her skills, and she committed to becoming her best for her clients. She excelled at Aveda and following graduation she quickly built up a loyal clientele at a salon in the trendy 50thand France shopping district of Edina, a Minneapolis suburb.

In a fast-paced, crazy-busy, turbulent, and distracted world, Alli welcomes her clients with a kind word, a smile, a caring and empathetic ear, a healing touch and an ability to make time slow down. A momentary oasis from the chaotic day-to-day grind. With love and great skill, in an hour or two, Alli brings out her customers’ pure essence and makes them look and feel beautiful. In addition to a great hairstyle, Alli captures the hearts of her clients, connects with their minds, and bolsters their self-esteem. Alli loves making others feel beautiful, creating lasting friendships along the way. She is unique. She is passionate about being a loving image shaper.

Alli’s purpose: Helping others look and feel great, and uplift their happiness, confidence, and self-image.

Alli’s calendar fills up months in advance. For years, she’s been voted by her clients as the “Best Hairstylist” in Edina Magazine’s Best of Edina annual survey.

You find meaning when your actions reflect what you value, what is important to you, and what gifts you enjoy and want to give. Your gifts, values, and passions can guide you toward your purpose. You just have to commit. Just like Alli Swanson.[i]

When her Edina hair salon, Sloane’s Beauty Bar, closed in compliance with the Minnesota governor’s March 17 executive order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus , Alli and her clients had no idea of when they could meet again to take care of their hair and beauty needs.  Alli sensed the “stay-at-home” order could be indefinite, so she packed up her tools and products in anticipation of finding another way to safely meet her clients’ needs.

After Governor Walz continued the “stay-at-home” order on April 9 to at least May 4, Alli knew she needed to take action to assist her clients and help them feel a bit better about themselves.

Using Facebook, Instagram and text messages, she offered all of her clients a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) touch up kit. Her DIY offering includes contactless delivery, a customized premium professional hair color formula for that particular client and the steps each should take to touch up their roots.

Accompanied by her two daughters, four year old Mollie and one year old Lucie, strapped in their car seats, Alli delivers the touch up kit to the front door of her client, gives her a quick text or call to let them know their package has arrived, and then Alli, Mollie and Lucie, wave and share greetings from a socially-safe distance.

Her client, Megan Swenson, says about Alli’s DIY kit and personal delivery service, “I absolutely loved my drop off kit from Alli! My poor hair hasn’t seen her love in months, so when she offered a DIY kit I was eager to get my mitts on one! I have to admit, I was extremely nervous about it.  Mostly because I have an appreciation for Alli’s skill set and also because my hair once turned green during college when I tried to experiment with hair dye.

The drop off kit included professional hair color, supplies, and easy to follow directions. It was honestly so easy even my husband helped. The color turned out great! My roots aren’t showing and my grays are covered. Thank you so much, Alli!”

A way to lift up the spirits and hearts of her clients, one person at a time, and make people feel a little better while we all navigate the COVID-19 period.  Alli Swanson has found a way to make an impact on others during this crisis.

[i]Alli Swanson interview by Chuck Bolton, 2019.