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From Tragedy to Triumph

From Tragedy to Triumph

From the age of 4, Shelley Clayton of Avon knew she wanted to be a plastic surgeon when she grew up. She did an internship with a plastic surgeon while she was in high school, and had always kept her eyes set on that dream. Along the way, she found that it was going to be harder than she thought to realize that dream. After sending in countless applications to different employers, she received nothing more than closed doors. Being a plastic surgeon is a competitive job, and the openings were less than slim. 

Meanwhile, she was working as an ER nurse while she continued to try and find a way into the plastic surgery business. Her hopes were dwindling after applying over and over again with no luck. Then, the unthinkable happened. In a tragic accident, she lost her 1-year-old son. All of the sudden, her life was flipped upside down. What now?

It took some time for Clayton to work through and process this tragedy, which will leave a mark on her heart forever. When she did return to the ER, she found that the work was just not the same for her. She didn’t find it as exciting as she once had. Her co-workers tried to protect her from having bad memories come up, but she realized it just wasn’t working. It was time for a change.

That’s when she decided to start her own business. Since she couldn’t find someone to hire her, she would just hire herself.

“At that point, I thought ‘I’ve already been through the craziest thing life has to offer, what do I have to lose?’ If I fail at my business then who cares?” Clayton thought.

Once Clayton made the decision to go out on her own, she has never looked back. It was hard at first, she had to wear all the hats of the business when she first began. She started off in a one room salon loft, just her and her computer. Because of the nature of the business, there was quite a lot that needed to be done to get off the ground. As difficult as it was, Clayton found some sort of peace in her work. Being able to focus in and grow the business kept her mind from dwelling on the difficulties that came with suffering such a loss.

Before long, Clayton found herself hitting some real milestones in her business. She started in the salon loft back in 2016, and by 2017 she had moved into a permanent location in Carmel and began her Iconic brand “Ageless Aesthetics.” 

Shelley Clayton poses in front of the board announcing her as the
IAOTP Empowered Woman of the Year. (Submitted photo)

“One of my first milestones was having extra product in stock and not having to buy the product the day before seeing a client. The products we use in this business are expensive. The next big one was being able to hire staff. When I first started, I booked appointments, answered the phones, did the laundry, and everything else because it was just me,” Clayton explained.

About a year ago, Clayton opened a second location in Greenwood. Already, that location has been named the top medical spa and the top aesthetics on the Southside of Indianapolis by the Daily Journal.

Overall, Ageless has become the standard for the industry. Clayton finds herself being stopped and people saying “you’re the ageless lady!” It’s been a complete turnaround in the last six years from being the new person on the block to being a name that other’s look up to. 

“It’s fun to be the trusted leader in this industry. People know they’re going to get a good, quality service when they come to us. We have tons of five star reviews which speak to that. I think we’ve been successful because we love what we do, we educate ourselves as much as we can, and we take it seriously. We not only want to make you look better, but also feel better, because it’s not really about losing that wrinkle, it’s about boosting your self-esteem,” Clayton explained.

All that being said, being a business owner was a learning curve for Clayton. She didn’t have the business training background, so she has had to learn that along the way. Managing people takes just the right mix of firmness and flexibility. With a staff of 13, Clayton has had to really work hard to do that, but she’s proven to be a quick learner. At the end of the day, she wants her staff to feel taken care of and valued. Once that is accomplished, the continued commitment to excellence is sure to follow.

For anyone considering taking a risk like Clayton did for this business, take her advice:

“If it’s your passion and you love it, then go for it. Even with all the challenges and difficulties that come with it, the rewards are worth it.”

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