FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – For the better part of two years, Bethanie Morken has been converting a yellow school bus into a self-care paradise.
The 260HAIRBUS has simple goals: unite the community, give back, and promote self-care.
That’s been the vision every step of the way as Morken, whose been doing hair for 13 years, and a team of family, friends, and contractors ripped out seats, tore down walls, ran electrical wire, painted, decorated, and built a business plan. After months of hard work, the final product rivals any brick-and-mortar hair salon.
“People will be able to come in, relax, take a deep breath, unwind, disconnect from the world,” said Morken. “I really hope that this can be a platform where people can escape at an affordable price, and they can leave feeling like a whole new person.”
Morken graduated from South Side High School in 2008, during which time she also attended Anthis Career Center so she graduated high school with her cosmetology license. After high school she moved to Bloomington where she attended Indiana University and did hair on the side, even offering her services at homeless and women’s shelters.
In 2013, she moved back to Fort Wayne, but took a break from hair. During that time she was a substitute teacher with FWCS, and also worked in retail management and freight brokerage.
But her desire to be involved in the beauty industry never faded, and she came back to it. Only this time she had a goal and vision in mind, and made her dream a reality.
The 260HAIRBUS allows Morken to combine her passions of giving back, teaching, and helping people feel good.
“I feel like now, especially after COVID, people need people to give, and unite the community, and give people something to look forward to,” she said.
Inside the standard-size school bus, Morken and her team added two stations with salon chairs and lighted mirrors, a shampoo bowl, an interactive area where clients can mix their own temporary hair color leave-in conditioner treatment, and a bathroom. The white paint, green plants and earthy vibes give the bus a calming feel.
“I have a love for nature and minimalism and so I wanted this to be a place people can escape to and represent things that I love.
The salon offers services including shampoo and style, dry style and clipper cuts, all with add-ons for an extra cost.
With plans to partner with businesses and organizations city-wide, you’ll soon see the bus in every corner of the 260.
Its convenience is key.
“Fort Wayne needs something convenient for families on the go. This is one of those things that like, if you’re on the way to the grocery store, or on your way to pick up the kids from school, you can add yourself to the wait list, come into the 260 HAIR BUS and get self-care,” said Morken. “I wanted something mobile so we could touch each side of Fort Wayne with all its growth and expansion that’s happening.”
Giving back is also a driving force behind the 260HAIRBUS. Veterans, teachers, nurses, and first responders will get $5 off any service on the bus. She also plans to take the bus to shelters to help people in need.
“I believe that happiness isn’t an overall state of being, it’s the little moments of joy. I’m an empath. Throughout my childhood and adult life I saw people that needed help and needed support and needed love and I think that it not only makes me happy to give back, but reuniting the community by leading by example and giving back to others is so important because so many times I hear “I I I, me me me” but I want this to be a “them” experience.”
Morken wants to give back to environmental groups in Fort Wayne as well- that’s another passion of hers. She has a recycling container strapped to the back of the bus and “recycle” signs posted in several spots. She also composts the hair scraps.
The 260HAIRBUS allows Morken the opportunity to do something else she loves: teaching.
She is hiring newer stylists straight out of beauty school who are trying to start their careers. Bethanie will teach them not only the technical skills of doing hair, but also how to interact with customers, socialize and communicate.
“How to read the room, how to socialize with different personality types, how to read someone’s body language and tap into their mind, body, spirit as a whole without them having to verbally explain anything,” she said. “I want the staff here to tune into that person’s energy to revive them and send them back out into the world.”
To start out, the 260HAIRBUS will be in two locations every day, one north and one south. During the warmer months, you’ll likely see the bus pop up at city-wide festivals and events. It can also be booked for private parties.
It is generally a fist come-first served basis, though Morken may book by appointments, too. Customers will be able to scan a QR code which will take them to a website where they can add their names to a wait list. They’ll then get a text message letting them know how long the wait time is and where they are in line. The QR code can be found on the outside of the bus, the 260HAIRBUS website and social media pages.
“I feel excited about what the future holds, I feel proud of myself, and if this isn’t an example of girl power I don’t know what is,” Morken said, smiling proudly.