Ex-High school track star making presence felt as Dallas-area cosmetologist

STAR-STUDDED STYLIST --- J. Marie Wimbish, a former high school track and field star, has become a fixer as a Dallas-area entrepreneur. The longtime professional cosmetologist has plans of opening her own salon soon. (Photos submitted by J. Marie Wimbish)

STAR-STUDDED STYLIST — J. Marie Wimbish, a former high school track and field star, has become a fixer as a Dallas-area entrepreneur. The longtime professional cosmetologist has plans of opening her own salon soon. (Photos submitted by J. Marie Wimbish)

FRISCO, Texas — No doubt, Jerri Marie Wimbish gave it her all.

During her days at Westport High in Kansas City, Missouri in the early 1990s, for instance, Wimbish was the catalyst of the Tigers’ track and field team, having advanced to state competition as a senior.

“Even though I did not (win state) in my particular categories, I always gave 100 percent of my full attention and tenacity to the finish,” Wimbish told MemphiSport during a recent interview.

For Wimbish, a Kansas City native who now resides in Dallas, it was the assortment of accolades she amassed in track and field that fueled the perseverance and competitive drive she has come to possess. For starters, Wimbish conditioned and practiced immensely, sometimes as many as five-to-six days per week.

To her credit, that she steadfastly demonstrated the keen ability to thrive as an athlete ultimately benefited her mightily as a rising entrepreneur.

An accomplished professional cosmetologist in the Frisco, Texas area, Wimbish plans to start her own salon suites that would offer stylist rent rooms in the foreseeable future, something about which she has dreamt ever since her teenage days of spending long hours at her aunt’s New Image Salon and Barbershop in Kansas City.

“I spent a lot of time there in my youth learning and observing the teachings on how to run a successful business,” Wimbish said. “I admired and took joy and pride of how the clients came and got services and left with a smile and a complete look of satisfaction on their faces.”

STAR WATCH --- Years before emerging as a licensed cosmetologist in four different states, Wimbish advanced to state competition as a prep track and field standout. Pictured with her is Oribe during a backstage appearance at hair show and training seminar in Miami last year.

STAR WATCH — Years before emerging as a licensed cosmetologist in four different states, Wimbish advanced to state competition as a prep track and field standout. Pictured with her is Oribe during a backstage appearance at hair show and training seminar in Miami last year.

Entrepreneurship, it seems, was a common trend for Wimbish’s family.
Her stepfather for years has owned a Kansas City-area cleaning service. And, because of the vision her aunt developed for meeting the hair stylish needs of consumers, she has adopted the passion to follow suit.

Given the success she has enjoyed during her professional cosmetology stint, it’s safe to assume Wimbish is on the right path to achieving entrepreneurial excellence.

Wimbish8“(My stepfather) made it his mission to work for himself and include his family members in his business,” Wimbish said. “He constantly worked to get contracts on major retail chains and restaurant business throughout Kansas City. He enjoyed the thought of being his own boss and always taught me and my siblings to educate ourselves so that we can learn and grow from others but ultimately seek entrepreneurship.”

After graduating high school in 1991, Wimbish furthered her education, first at nearby Metro Tech Cosmetology, where she earned her Missouri state license in 1992. Consequently, she enrolled at Langston University in Oklahoma, where she earned a degree in Business Management in 1996. From there, she enrolled at Aladdin Beauty College in Plano, Texas, where she completed her studies in 1999.

She earned licenses in Texas in June 2005  to June 2010 and she has resided in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she was a cosmetologist/stylist at Michael Scott Salon.

Unlike many of her peers who harbored aspirations of engaging in entrepreneurship, particularly in cosmetology, Wimbish sensed getting a quality education was essential in order to run an efficient business. Wimbish7

“I constantly take continuing education to update my skill level and maintain and improve my clientel base,” Wimbish said. “My clients always appreciate my skill level and eagerness to learn and show them the new trends every season. During my career, I have acquired certifications in relaxing, coloring, extensions for hair and eyes and make-up artistry.   I also worked as an educator for Matrix Loreal.  I taught other stylist product knowledge and how to successfully use the products.  I also performed various techniques, of my talents and craft at Armstrong McCall which is the local distributor for Loreal.”

Wimbish6In addition, Wimbish is licensed to practice cosmetology in Florida, Texas, and California. To her credit, she has earned A Certifications in assortment of areas, most notably Great Lengths, Hair Dreams, Aqua Beauty Line Hair Extensions, Nova Lash Eyelash Extensions, Mizani Relaxer, Iso Permanent Wave, Brazillian Blow Out, Jane Iredale Mineral Make Up, Color Lines Wella, Matrix, Goldwell, Schwartzkoph.

“Kerastase and Oribe Hair Care are my top choices for maintenance and styling,” Wimbish said.

Aside from routinely working for a Dallas-area salon, Wimbish has become a fixture for putting her professional skills on display outside her customary place of employment.

“One of the most rewarding things in this industry that appealed to me was that you can also work outside the salon as an educator of products and or performing and teaching your talents to others at local venues and internationally,” Wimbish said.  “My aunts and instructors always taught me to learn as much as you can about your craft and to always go above and beyond the chair.”

Like track and field, Wimbish acknowledges the same vision and passion for excelling must be demonstrated throughout her professional industry. Wishbish9

“In track and field, there is a lot of competition so it takes a very determined person with a passion for excellence to strive to do the best,” she said.  “You have to continue to work on your personal best to be number one or win your competition.  This need to be the best at what I do in cosmetology is shared with track and field in the same way that there is a lot of competition on every corner.

“What makes me successful is that same determination makes me want to learn more about my trade by constantly updating my continuing education, in trends, product knowledge and of course great customer service,” Wimbish added.  “I make sure I am on top of the latest products, trends, business building skills involving customer care and paying attention to my competition.”

As Wimbish quickly points out, displaying a competitive drive to excel starts — and ends — at the door.

“It is important that every customer is greeted professionally.  The customer should be made to feel comfortable by showing them around your salon,” Wimbish explains. “It’s always a plus to use their name and offer them a robe and/or a beverage.  My consultation with the client is the most important thing of the entire visit.  This is when listening skills must be attentive to the customer.  I always close with product maintenance and when the customer should return.  I always ask how was the service. In closing I always see to it that I walk the customer to the door and tell them it was a pleasure seeing them and giving them a great service.  It is always a plus to send follow up correspondence about their service.  I try to practice this with everyone.  This practice has helped me grow with my clients.”

By and large, Wimbish said her solid professionalism and care for customers are what allows her craft as a professional cosmetologist to stand out above others in the industry.

“My business stands out due to my customer service skills, professionalism, and my determination to learn grow and teach others about my craft,” Wimbish said.  “The facility that I work in has continuous training with outreach events, website, apps to download, professional receptionist, and management and staff.  They have achievements as the Best Salon in Frisco, Texas.”

Among the reasons is that Wimbish — just as she had done in track and field — has gone to great lengths to give it her all.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about Jerri Marie Wimbish, follow her on Twitter is @jerrimariewimbi, Instagram at JERIMARIBW, and on Facebook under JMarieB. Wimbish. Also, email her at topthishair@yahoo.com. For hair services and appointments, call her at VonAnthony Salon in Frisco, Texas at 972-731-7600.

DrePicAndre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist. 

Ex-USTA tennis player Paula Skahan is ‘frontrunner’ for Criminal Court Judge Div. 1

Paula Skahan has a fond admiration for tennis.
So much, in fact, that she made her way to Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Meadow, New York to witness the 1997 U. S. Open.
PROVEN TRACK RECORD --- Paula Skahan has presided over Criminal Court Division 1 since 2004. She is now seeking her second full term during a career that spans for than 30 years both as a trial attorney and judge. (Photos submitted by Friends of Paula Skahan)

PROVEN TRACK RECORD — Paula Skahan has presided over Criminal Court Division 1 since 2004. She is now seeking her second full term during a career that spans for than 30 years both as a trial attorney and judge. (Photos submitted by Friends of Paula Skahan)

There, she got a glimpse of Serena Williams, a then-newcomer to professional women’s tennis who is now the No. 1-ranked singles player in the world.

As Skahan recalls, watching Williams from a few rows away was a memorable encounter, given the thousands of spectators on hand sensed they were witnessing a player who would later become the face of the sport.
“That was awesome,” Skahan, recalling her late 1990s visit to the U.S. Open, told MemphiSport during a recent interview. “I was a couple of feet away from (Williams). She would come over close to the crowd. You could see how she was able to become the champion she is. She’s one of the best of all time, if not the best.”
For Skahan, a veteran Mid-South judge who currently presides over Memphis’ Criminal Court Division 1, tennis has become an integral part of her life. Skahan, 53, spent years playing competitive tennis through a league sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
To credit, her tenure on the UTSA circuit eventually gave way to her advancing to the regional finals in a tournament held in Mobile, Ala. in 1996.
Now that she has witnessed her career progress to immense heights, most notably through the judicial ranks, Skahan’s responsibility as a judge doesn’t allow her to devote much time to the sport she has come to embrace. Still, even when suiting up in her signature black robe and assuming her seat on the bench in the courtroom, her competitive drive as one of the Mid-South’s most successful judges can be observed by those with whom she crosses paths regardless of how intense and complicated trials become.
“I’m competitive by nature,” Skahan said. I’ve been competitive on the tennis court, emotionally and physically. And I’ve got to play at a high level. I was captain for two years.”
As Skahan tells it, playing competitive tennis has benefited her mightily during what has been a prosperous law career. In some aspects, she acknowledges the sport is parallel to the experiences she often witnesses in her courtroom.
“As a former trial lawyer, you have to fight for your client and even as a judge you have to fight,” said Skahan, drawing a comparison between tennis and her career. “You’ve just got to be on top of everything.”
A career that spans more than three decades as both a trial attorney and judge, Skahan has established a well-publicized, respectable track record that suggests she has been on top of her game, even when she is away from the tennis court.
For starters, she has represented hundreds of clients in criminal courts and boasts a slew of experience in having been involved in a number of high-profile, complex, and capital murder cases. Add to the fact that she’s armed with an array of experience as a prosecutor, public defender, and private criminal defense attorney, and it’s no wonder Skahan is a heavy favorite to return to Division 1 and commence what would be a second full term.
A full term last eight years.
Early voting takes place from July 18 through August 2. The general election is August 7.
If elected, Skahan, who has presided over Division 1 since 2004, pledges to take on a more aggressive approach as judge, particularly when deliberating on the feat of individuals. 
“I have been an honest and fair judge,” Skahan said. “And I’ve made it my business to make sure attorneys appointed to represent defendants on serious felony trials in criminal court are honest and fair. I had been practicing (law) a long time before running to be judge. When I was practicing law, some of the judges did not appoint competent attorneys to represent defendants charged with serious felonies or capital murder charges.
BRING HER BACK --- A number of Mid-Southerns have teamed with "Judge Paula" as she lobbies for a second full term in Criminal Court Division 1.

BRING HER BACK — A number of Mid-Southerns have teamed with “Judge Paula” as she lobbies for a second full term in Criminal Court Division 1.

“When I was practicing, my brother (Gerald Skahan) and I represented many defendants where the state was seeking the death penalty,” Skahan continued. “We were also appointed to represent defendants who were taken off of death row. That is the reason I wanted to be judge…because I know how imporantant it is to appoint qualified and competent attorneys to handle imporant cases. So having that type of experience makes me qualified to be a criminal court judge.”

Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, Skahan — once a military child — and her family moved to New London, Conneticut then to Long Island, N. Y. until her she was five years old. Spending the next decade in the Northeast, Skahan moved in 1978 to the Mid-South, where she enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Consequently, she enrolled at Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1980 and, after declaring a double major in English and French, she enrolled at the Memphis State School of Law from 1982-85.
SEE VIDEO OF JUDGE SKAHAN CAPTURING DEMOCRATIC ENDORSEMENT: http://s644.photobucket.com/user/rale2001/library/Skahan?src=pb
After earning her law degree, she spent the next two decades as a trial attorney before taking over the bench as a criminal court judge in 2004.
Not only did Skahan and her brother — who now heads the Public Defendant Capital Defense team — earn the reputation as fair and honest attorneys, but they managed to discover a several discrepancies by state law officials.
“The state withheld information,” Paula Skahan said. “It happens. I think it’s reprehensible. That really bothered me. Nobody ever went to death row when we were involved in representing them. That’s the reason I wanted to become judge. I’m not necessarily for or against the death penalty. But if a state is going to give the death penalty, it needs to be handled the proper way. We’ve pretty much gotten to a point where we’re handling them properly.”

RISING STAR --- Judge Paula went to the U.S. open in 1997 to watch Serena Williams, long before the world's No. 1-ranked player won 17 Grand Slams.

RISING STAR — Judge Paula, a former USTA player, went to the U.S. Open in 1997 to watch Serena Williams, long before the world’s No. 1-ranked player won 17 Grand Slams.

Skahan’s viable presence as the face — and voice — of Criminal Court-Division 1, to her credit, has gone virtually unnoticed by Mid-Southerners, many of whom have entrusted her to preside over high-profile cases for the past ten years. And, because a solid resume that includes being named to the National Association of Women Judges, Skahan seems destined to retain her judicial seat once the votes are tabulated August 7.
“The judges say it has made a huge difference in the quality of representation,” said Skahan, when asked to assess her tenure on the bench. “You will still have people going to death, but it won’t be because ineffective assistance of counsel.”
With Election Day roughly two months away, Skahan doesn’t shy away from the notion that it is her race to lose.
“I hope so,” said Skahan, when asked is she is the frontrunner. “I am the incumbent. I’ve been working very hard campaigning. I have two opponents. But it will be up to the voters. I’m a person who likes to spend time with people. I want to have a hearing with them to find out what’s going on. What is the reason this person is sitting in front of me? So something’s got to give when we try all of these cases.”
Spoken like a veteran judge who has gained a reputation for boasting a competitive drive on the bench. 
Ten years and counting.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

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