When Audrey Hansen was only five years old, she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. The inspiration came when she watched the first Princess Diary movie, where Mia, a scruffy teenage heiress, was transformed into a princess with the help of a team of beauticians.

Audrey Hansen Chehalis
Audrey Hansen returned to Chehalis to continue to pursue her passion. Photo credit: Joyce Fink

Audrey pointed at the screen and asked her mother, “Who are they?”

She answered, “Beauticians.” Audrey replied, “That’s what I want to be when I get older.”

A few months before, Angie, the sister just older than Audrey, left for college, she gave her younger sister a piece of advice. “Be sure to get good grades so you can get into a good college.”

“I’m not going to college,” Audrey replied. “Beauty School is my college.”

Then came Running Start, where students can earn college credits and learn a trade by working off-campus. Audrey signed up for Centralia Beauty College and spent most of the day there. Her school schedule allowed her to take two classes at W.F. West and spend the rest of the day at the beauty college, except for the days she left early to participate with the W.F. West swim team.

Then came the competition Audrey was waiting for — the 2015 Miss Lewis County Pageant. Her father was very hesitant about Audrey’s participation in the pageant, but eventually, he came around. With her mother by her side helping, Audrey practiced sample questions from the judges and practiced her piano solo, “The Waterfall,” by Jon Schmitt, for her talent.

Audrey Hansen Chehalis
Audrey can be found at Parkside Salon and Spa on 1270 SW Williams in Chehalis across the street from Penny Playground. Photo credit: Jeremy Fink

In one portion of the contest, each girl is interviewed by a panel of judges and asked questions about national and worldwide issues. The girls also choose a subject they feel strongly about and create a platform to support it. Audrey’s platform was against bullying.

Bullying is a subject Audrey feels very strongly about since she was the target of a group of girls who tormented her from fourth grade through high school. “They were very mean to me and wouldn’t talk to me,” Audrey recalls. “I don’t remember them spreading rumors about me, but there was ‘Oh, there’s Audrey Hansen, so let’s not talk to her.’ They shunned or pinched me or shoved me.”

In sixth grade, three of the bullies gave her a note saying she ought to kill herself. “That’s why I ran for Miss Lewis County so I could get my side of the story out.”

There were some surprised people when Audrey won the title of 2015 Miss Lewis County. Audrey showed them she had overcome the bullying.

One of the requirements for holding the Miss Lewis County title was that she would stay in Lewis County and act as its representative during the coming year. After she won, Audrey gave over 100 presentations throughout the county.

Things seemed to slow down for Audrey then, and she didn’t know what to do with herself. She had swum for the W.F. West swim team, graduated from W.F. West High School, and Centralia Beauty School, held down a job and passed on her crown. Now what?

Audrey Hansen Chehalis
Audrey Hansen checks the uniformity of her client’s hair coloring. Photo credit: Joyce Fink

“I knew the next decision would be a big one,” Audrey said. She decided to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was sent to Curitiba, Brazil. Her mission was originally for 18 months but was eventually extended to 19 and a half months.

“I learned how to deal with a lot of personalities by always serving other people and talking with people,” Audrey said. After her mission, she ended up in Utah, cutting hair for Great Clips.

“I wanted to know more about hairdressing, like how to do it better and faster,” Audrey said. At Great Clips, she was paid an hourly wage and got to keep the tips. In three months, she was moved to assistant manager. She stayed there for two and a half years and learned how to cut hair. Then it was time to go home to Washington.

She worked as an assistant for a woman who taught Audrey how to color hair before leaving the business. She also left Audrey with many of her clients. Impressively, her clientele increased as word of Audrey’s return spread among her former clients.

Audrey Hansen Chehalis
The sign on the front of Parkside Salon & Spa will change soon with a new owner. Photo credit: Jeremy Fink

And what are her goals now? “I’d love my own property with a tiny little salon where clients can come,” she said. “I’m my own boss, so I can work when I want to work. Flexibility is the main thing.”

And dating? “It would be nice to have a best friend and go traveling. I’m open and available. But he’s going to have to be pretty amazing!”

Audrey can be found at Parkside Salon and Spa on 1270 SW Williams Avenue in Chehalis, across the street from Penny Playground. Her cellphone number is 360.972.0680.

Look for a new name, “The Garage,” with a new owner and sign coming soon.

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