Amanda Dang, 25, originally from Houston, Texas calls Nashville home.
Now a stylist with Lunatic Fringe salon in the Melrose area, she has been in Tennessee for the last 16 years.
She realized early on that she didn’t want a desk job. She said her dislike for school and her creativity lead her to discovering cosmetology.
a FAMILY THING
Amanda liked the idea of being more free with her schedule and wearing what she wanted, but she wasn’t initially sold on the idea of becoming a stylist.
“Most of the women in my family are stylist, and I was actually really against it before,” she said. “I got sucked into and fell in love with it.”
Amanda said she has so much respect for what her mother can do, how creative she is while still being able to be a good mom.
“As I’ve grown in this career, it’s really about the people,” she said. “People are already beautiful in their own way, but to have someone come sit in your chair, feel awful about themselves and by the time they leave tell you that you’ve made them feel the best they’ve felt in a long time is amazing.”
Amanda graduated from Smyrna High School in 2008. After high school she went on to Paul Mitchell School of Nashville, where she received her cosmetology license in 2009.
After cosmetology school, she went to work at her mother’s salon in Smyrna. From there, she moved toward Franklin and eventually landed in Nashville, where she’s been at Lunatic Fringe for a little over a year.
SOMETIMES IT’S MORE THAN HAIR
Amanda said her effect on people is one of the best parts about the job.
“In some aspects, it is just hair or just makeup, but to be able to affect some one that deeply and make them feel that great, I think that’s what makes me feel fulfilled,” she said.
Amanda said it’s funny how her guests think she affects their lives so much when really they are doing the same thing for her. She calls it a win-win.
“I have a lot of guests that are my role models and like my parents because they give me advice,” she said, especially given that most of her family is back in Houston.
“At first when a lot of the construction was going on most of my guests coming from Cool Springs thought it was an iffy area, but watching it grow over the last year has been awesome,” she said.
“Nashville, in general, and seeing it all grow like it has is crazy,” she said.
TRANSITION and CHANGE
Amanda is the second oldest of six siblings. She has two brothers and four sisters. When she was three her mother and her siblings moved to South Carolina before coming to Tennessee.
She said her mom became close friends with a Laotian woman who invited her to church at Franklin Road Baptist in Murfreesboro while she was visiting.
“My mom just fell in love with it,” she said. “I think one of the main reasons why was because that was the first church she’d ever been to that translated in Laotian which she can understand better.”
After another visit with her step dad, Amanda and her siblings were informed that they would be moving to Tennessee.
Amanda and her family were Buddhist before they converted to Christianity. She said it was hard for her to convert like her mother did.
“I was around 12 or 13, in that age where you’re wanting to develop your mind, you’re wanting to branch off and think for yourself a little bit,” she said. “At first I was rebellious and against it but I knew it made my mom happy so I did it for her.”
She said everyone was nice in church but she didn’t have friends and didn’t really connect with anyone.
“It was a very traditional southern Baptist church, which is fine, but for me then I wasn’t so much into it,” she said. “Now, I’m not either but I believe, it was just interesting and a lot of it was because of my mom.”
Amanda said what matters most to her in life now is happiness, growing and being nice to others.
“I struggle a lot with that because I’m a girl, and girls have attitudes,” she said. “This industry has taught me to learn and to love every body.”
She said no matter how cheesy it sounds when it comes down to it, it’s all about love.
“Even though we are growing and becoming a bigger city, we are having all different types of people come here and the bottom line is everyone should love each other.”
When Neat Nashville asked Amanda what community meant to her she said, “It’s people coming together. It’s people being one. Community is another word for family.”
Amanda said she gets chills when she hears about all the creative things that people want to do and create.
“Nashville has a different type of creativity that many people want. I think that is what attracts a lot of people to come and live here,” she said.
She said the creativity of the city is only going to expand and grow.
“I know a lot of people are calling Nashville, baby Austin, Texas because we’ve got a lot of young professionals. Everything is so fresh so new.”
Amanda lives in the Nippers Corner, an area well-known for its bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic.
“The traffic doesn’t really bother me too much,” she said. “It’s a blessing to take a moment, sit in your car and look around you rather than cussing or getting mad.”
She said with the amount of people projected to move to Nashville in the future, she can see how traffic and transportation could one day be a major concern.
“I’m not so worried about it but that’s the main thing that I always hear, and it makes me think: What the hell are we going to do?”
OUTSIDE of STYLING and WHAT’S NEXT
Along with styling, Amanda teaches at the salon as well.
“We always try to switch it up. Last week, I taught a men’s hair cutting class,” she said. “I usually teach the new stylist that we get or the up and coming, or the ones that are coming out of school in our company.”
She said she’d like to do more photo shoots and editorial work as well.
“I do love being behind the hair, but I do have a big passion for teaching and helping people. I’m always wanting to learn and in many ways I can always learn from the students.”
When Amanda isn’t styling, she likes going to new restaurants and trying new foods.
Her favorite restaurant is Lockeland Table in East Nashville.
“I’ve been going there for some time and they always have the same waiters and the same bartenders, so that’s got to say something, ya know?” she said. “Everyone there is super friendly and the food is awesome.”
Amanda also likes to paint, read books and believe it or not, play with LEGOs.
“There was a point in my life last year where I decided, I don’t [care] if it’s stupid for my age, I’m going to do whatever I want to do that makes me happy,” she said.
She said she played as a kid here and there with her older brother, when he wasn’t throwing the pieces at her.
“I have a batmobile one that I’m pretty damn proud of,” she said. “One day I said, screw it, I’m going to go to the LEGO store in Opry Mills and go buy a bunch of them.”
She said it’s very stress relieving and it breaks her down to being a kid again. She started back last year and doesn’t see an end in sight for her LEGO fun.
If it’s not LEGOs then it’s books, and Amanda likes the self-help section. She said it’s important for people to read books.
“I like books that I can take something from,” she said.
“Try not to think and fall into the stereotypical of what society thinks you should fall in, do what you love. I know it’s crazy to say, but even if it doesn’t make you money, don’t fall in the lines of how society thinks you should live. Do what you love.”
She said in the future she just wants to be happy and do more things for other people.