Top 5 Strengths

  • Woo (winning others over)
  • Communication
  • Positivity
  • Includer
  • Adaptability


My name is Aimee Leigh Wilkins, and I’m married to Thomas Wilkins. I have three children, Marissa, Isabella (Izzy), and stepson Tristan. I have been a hairstylist for 12 years. My story begins like this …

I was 18 years old when I graduated from Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School, class of 1993. After high school, I enrolled in cosmetology school at Huron Valley Beauty Academy.

Beauty school was everything I had hoped it to be—at first. But as time went on, and my life as an 18-year-old with no more rules and curfews went on, partying all night and little sleep, school became less and less a priority. After a year of missing classes and falling asleep in class, the teachers and staff decided that I had to go. YES, I got kicked out of beauty school. I thought my parents were going to kill me. They were disappointed, but I was an adult, right, so I found a full-time job with benefits. I worked in an office for seven years. I loved my boss and co-workers, but hated the job. Bored. During this time, my sister Shannon was working at Brown & DeLine salon, and she did my hair. She made friends there, and so did I.

In March of 2000, I gave birth to Marissa. I was 25 and living in an apartment with her father. It wasn’t long before Cathy Issel offered me an apprenticeship at the salon. She knew I was interested in getting back to the hair industry. After talking it over with my parents and asking them if Marissa and I could move in, I took her up on her offer and started my apprenticeship with Brown & DeLine in January 2002.

I remember my first day. The transition was an easy one. Since I had a year of beauty school under my belt, being an apprentice with Cathy was easier than I thought it would be. I had already learned how to cut, color, perm, and style hair. Cathy taught, and I picked up right where I left off. Now I just needed the practice. But being an assistant in the salon, well, that was another thing. I loved it at first. I was doing what I was meant to be doing—hair. Waking up in the mornings excited to go into work was new to me.

After finally completing my apprenticeship, I passed the state boards and got my license. I was now a hairstylist trying to build my clientele, starting a relationship, and moving out of my parents’ home. Soon I was pregnant with Isabella. It was a surprise, but I was excited. When Isabella was eight months old, I moved back in with my parents, Cathy had opened up Brown & DeLine West, and I started working there.

Before long, I started questioning my career at Brown & DeLine. I had two kids, was still single, and I was blaming the salon for my not making a lot of money. I left Brown & DeLine for a new salon, Tricho. I was a new stylist with not a lot of experience or a clientele. I was naïve, young, and also inexperienced when it came to knowing about other salons and how the salon business works. At Brown & DeLine, I made 50% commission and didn’t have to pay for anything else. At Tricho, I made 40% commission on walk-in clientele and 45% on requests. I also had to pay $2 for every shampoo and $6 for every chemical service. I had to supply my own hair products, combs, brushes, color bowls, and mesh clips. Things started to add up quickly, especially since I wasn’t making a lot of money. I left Tricho a few months after to return to Brown & DeLine. Cathy hired me back, and I was so grateful that she did!

When I came back to Brown & DeLine, I had a new agenda. I was going to give it my all for a year and do whatever Cathy told me to do in order to be successful. I had two kids, was still living at my parents’ house, and was not getting any younger.

Every year, I increased my annual sales—higher and higher. I was getting better at what I was doing, and my clientele started to grow and grow. I was going to hair shows and taking classes. My prices started to rise, and I started cutting back on hours. I applied for the assistant manager’s position and got it. The position was only for a year. I learned so much in that time, and it was the best experience I had. I got the position again in the second year, but decided it was more than I could handle, so I resigned from the position.

Fast-forward to today! Thomas and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary, moved into our dream home, and are raising our beautiful family together. I’m working about 18 hours a week, have a steady clientele that is very loyal to me, and life couldn’t be better. I have the best husband in the world who supports me 100% in everything I do. Without the love and support of Cathy Issel—who 12 years ago took me on and trained, mentored, and supported me through the good and bad—I would truly not be what and who I am today. Much love for her and the Brown & DeLine team.

Best industry/life advice:

Be a team player.

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