Donna Means, owner of Salon DM3 in Athens, Georgia.  

Donna Means, owner of Salon DM3 in Athens, Georgia. 

A licensed stylist for more than 28 years, Donna Means opened Salon DM3 in Athens, Georgia, with three other stylists in 2011. Within five years, they had grown the salon to a multi-million dollar business with more than 20 employees. Celebrated for her innate fashion sense, VIP style, and a deep understanding of what looks and feels beautiful, Donna embodies the spirit of DM3. She and the salon team are centered around education, giving back through local charities, and growing stylists.

As part of our Profiles in Leadership series, SALON TODAY caught up with Donna for a little Q&A:

ST: What is your strongest leadership quality?

Donna: “Leadership never happens without putting others first. My sole mission when opening DM3 was to uplift, encourage and launch stylists to the next level.”

ST: How would you describe your management style? What are your strengths and what do you need to work on?

Donna: “I’m pretty hands off, while having a finger on the pulse. It has served me well, but I certainly need to work on my communication skills."

ST: What’s been the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?

Donna: “To look inwardly. Ultimately, we are solely responsible for everything that happens to ourselves.

ST: From where do you draw your strength, courage and vision?

Donna: “Jesus Christ. Period. In fact, the center of my mission statement is ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’”

ST: Who has been your biggest mentor and what have they taught you?

Donna: “My husband. He’s a former commercial landscaping manager and he has given me the bottom line business plans needed to forecast, budget, and run a successful business.”

ST: What goals have you set for yourself?

Donna: “I have a goal of seeing my salon at New York Fashion Week, and I envision having a six pack by age 50.”

Donna Means (center) surrounded by the Salon DM3 team in the newly renovated salon space. 

Donna Means (center) surrounded by the Salon DM3 team in the newly renovated salon space.

ST: In your opinion, what is the single biggest threat that beauty businesses like your face?

Donna: “Unlicensed stylists and salon suites. We can fight legislation on the former, but as commissioned salons we need to adapt to the changing needs of younger stylists.”

ST: What’s the biggest opportunity for beauty businesses like yours over the next five years?

Donna: “Female-patterned baldness. I haven’t seen any proper solutions, but I know it’s out there.”

ST: If you weren’t in the beauty business, what would you be doing now?

Donna: “I house be head of house at a Michelin-starred restaurant.”

ST: What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?

Donna: Honestly, it was two former employees that left my salon during my first salon walkout. Years later, they wrote me a letter expressing their remorse and said I alone taught them everything about customer service and how to treat people.”

ST: If you were training someone to take over your job, what is the most important advice you could offer?

Donna: “Listen. Wait. Think. Speak. All within 24 hours to EVERYONE.”

ST: If you were to look at a scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which one would you want to remove?

Donna: “My favorite page would be the very beginning when I was slinging out walk-in haircuts in La Jolla, CA. And, I wouldn’t remove a page.”

ST: How would you like to spend your retirement?

Donna: “Golfing and motivating all the seniors in a deluxe retirement community.”

ST: Describe your target client and your ideal team member.

Donna: My target customer values craftsmanship, talent and dedication to craft. I have found that description of a human lives anywhere between Yale and jail—you can’t put a socioeconomic category on that. The ideal team member has a drive to be the best possible version of themselves, is actively and consistently learning and is kind and confident.”

ST: What makes your beauty business unique?

Donna: “The selfless culture I have created.”

ST: What business project are you working on?

Donna: “I currently am planning a significant remodel and am still saving for my own commercial building.”

ST: If someone were to write a book about your life what would be an appropriate title?

Donna:What did she just say?!”

ST: How do you like to spend your time away from your business?

Donna: “On the golf course or in the Pilates studio.”

ST: Tell us something about yourself that would surprise most of the people you know in the professional beauty industry?

Donna: “I feel wildly uncomfortable in large crowds.”

ST: What do you hope is your legacy?

Donna: “I hope and pray that my business is remembered as generous, selfless and encouraging.”

ST: Why did you want to join Intercoiffure Canada America?

Donna: “I joined Intercoiffure to raise my professional standards, surround myself with seasoned industry professionals and for the incredible support and challenge they offer.”

ST: What has been the biggest benefit you have received from your ICA membership?

Donna: “Street cred!”

For more information about Intercoiffure Canada America and becoming a member, visit

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