A local business owner learned from birth to tackle all obstacles head on.

Angie Arnett, owner of Salon 101 in downtown Ottawa, was adopted when she was three days old.

“My life started at the county welfare office,” Arnett said.

Fighting to live a normal life had just begun for Arnett. Her parents found out when Arnett was in kindergarten that she was deaf.

“I did not pass my hearing test,” she said. “They took me to get hearing aids when I was five years old. They knew I had a speech impairment when I was two.”

She spent 10 years in speech therapy and can speak as normally as most people today. Arnett taught herself to read lips, which is why her parents were unaware of her hearing loss before entering school.

“They had no idea that I was hearing impaired because I was communicating with them,” Arnett said. “[Lip reading] was my only way to communicate.”

Her parents were the backbone of her perspective in life.

“My parents have been my biggest supporters,” Arnett said. “God led me through a lot of things in life. My parents always told me there is no dis in disability. You have the ability to do whatever you want in life. Nobody calls me disabled because of my challenges. I have always overcame my [lack of] hearing. Do I get frustrated? Sure.”

The kindergarten teacher told her parents she needed to attend the Indiana School for the Deaf and not public school. Once there, the deaf school administrators wondered why she was there because she could speak.

“They were amazed,” Arnett said. “I owe that to my parents for all the years of speech therapy.”

Her life took another twist two years ago this past June when she lost all hearing on her left side. She went for testing at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I went from 65 percent hearing loss to 100 percent,” Arnett said.

She received a cochlear implant in her left ear. A cochlear is a small, complex electronic device to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communications website.

“I can hear with hearing aids, but once I take them out, I hear nothing,” Arnett said. “I can hear 33 percent with my cochlear implant and 40 percent with my hearing aids. I rely 100 percent on lip reading because that is my first language. Always will be. I don’t concentrate on hearing, I concentrate on reading lips.”

MORE THAN HAIR

Her life took a few twists and turns before becoming a licensed cosmetologist.

“I have always known I wanted to be a hairdresser,” Arnett said. “At 19, you know it all. My parents tried to get me to go to cosmetology school, but I did not do that. Instead I went to college and [got] a business degree. I did business management for awhile. I got burned out on that. I went to cosmetology school when I was 26. I have been doing hair for 22 years now.”

She started out commuting from Pomona to work in a Kansas City salon. When her son was two, she got tired of the commute and opened her own shop — Creative Hair Designs — in Topeka for eight years.

She felt time flying by and wanted to be closer to home, so she closed the Topeka shop.

“One day I decided I was not going to commute anymore,” Arnett said. “My son was two and all of sudden he was 12. I did not want to miss out on any more of his life. I closed that salon. I decided to take a chance and open a salon in Ottawa.”

That was a little more than five years ago when she opened Salon 101, 101 S. Main St., Ottawa.

“It just seemed like a perfect location for a salon,” Arnett said. “They always say the best thing for a business is location, location, location. When I opened this business 5 1/2 years ago, I prayed about it and took a chance. I came to Ottawa with no clients.”

Her husband came up with the salon name. Arnett said at first she wanted to name the shop, Creative Hair Design, but it did not fit the Ottawa location.

“I could not think of a name for nothing,” Arnett said. “I knew I wanted salon in [the name]. He said, ‘What about Salon 101?’ because of the location. It is catchy. I love it.”

Salon 101 offers hair cuts, coloring, highlights, nails, pedicures, manicures and massages.

“You can do everything in one stop,” Arnett said. “There is such a demand for everything. A lot of people come to get their hair and nails done. We offer massages. [The clients] kind of pamper themselves while they are here. My motto is “So much more than just hair.’”

Arnett said seeing the business start from scratch and grow into a thriving salon is beyond words.

“It is phenomenal,” she said. “I am blessed more than anything. Everybody in here helped me build this business. It is such an honor to own a business in this downtown. The downtown is beautiful.”