A Local Salon Owner Turns Tragedy Into Triumph.

by | Dec 2023

IN 2008, an outgoing blonde with a strong Southern accent and an entrepreneurial spirit opened Tanglez Hair Studio near the Bowling Green airport. It would become an award-winning institution with loyal clientele and energy as vibrant as its owner, Nina Henderson. But a career punctuated by storms (literally and metaphorically) has taken Henderson on an unexpected path of divine intervention. 

From Hair Cuts to Cancer Treatments 

“People are sent to Tanglez to feel pretty inside and out,” Henderson said on the salon’s Facebook page in 2018. 

Henderson always had a passion for making other people feel special. But not long after that post, the clouds of adversity gathered as Henderson faced a formidable opponent: breast cancer. Her passion shifted to finding healing. 

“When I first got diagnosed with cancer, it was so scary. I didn’t even know what an oncologist was,” she said. 

Henderson’s daughter, who was working as a surgical assistant at the time, came to work for her at Tanglez. 

“She took care of my clientele. She took care of everything,” Henderson said. 

Ultimately, after a double mastectomy and successful treatments, Henderson was cancer-free within a matter of months. After all, she firmly believes that “if God brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it.” Henderson got straight back to work, making people look and feel beautiful. Two years later, in August 2021, the cancer returned, metastasizing in four different places. 

Now, forced to think about her life in terms of quality over quantity, and after 16 years of cuts, colors, and clientele, Henderson sold Tangles. 

“I was worrying about stocking blow pops,” Henderson said. “I didn’t want to worry about blow pops. I’ve got three grandkids, and I wanted to focus on living my life. Blow pops were not my priority.” 

The Eye of the Storm 

Henderson’s battle with cancer is one she fights daily. She takes chemotherapy pills, estrogen blockers, and monthly injections to manage her symptoms, and she has for almost two years. 

As if the trials and anxiety of selling a business and struggling with a cancer recurrence weren’t enough, Henderson’s home was hit by the EF3 tornado that swept through Bowling Green in December 2021 — nearly a year after she restarted treatments. 

The tornado damaged over 475 homes and killed 17 people. Henderson said it sounded like a train. It ripped through her pool house and garage, about 5 feet from where she was sleeping next to her husband. 

“I woke my husband up, and I said, ‘Babe, I’m so scared,” she said. “He goes, ‘Be still.” And it was gone.” 

The pool house and garage were leveled. They would have to rebuild. 

“God picked up my life like a tornado,” Henderson said. “He picked all my life up, and he started placing it where he wanted it to be. And that was my biggest explanation of how I felt — just in a storm. And then he started placing it where he wanted it because I probably didn’t have it where it needed to be.

Divine Intervention 

Amongst the wreckage natural disasters and a vicious disease had caused in her life emerged Ahavah, Henderson’s new hair studio. It’s not just a shiny new business venture; it’s a testament to the stylist’s resilience and an embodiment of love — Ahavah, meaning ‘love’ in Hebrew. 

“The greatest gift of all is love, and that’s how I want to go out,” Henderson said. “That’s how I want my career to be.” 

She and her husband decided to rebuild the garage and pool house but transform them into a hair studio for Henderson. She would get to prioritize family, fun, and her health while still fulfilling her passion for transforming clientele and connecting with people. 

“The Lord was getting it set up, but I had no idea,” she said. “So we would never have had Ahavah if it wasn’t for the tornado.” 

After getting the proper approvals and rallying support from family, friends, and clients, Ahavah opened in May 2023 to a very warm reception from the community. 

“Something about cancer, and something about any journey you go through — any storm, if you don’t have support — a good support system — you’re not going to make it,” she said. “That’s my experience.” 

Although the storm of life rages on, from the vibrancy of Tanglez to the intimate haven of Ahavah, Henderson’s journey is a testament to the power of faith, community support, and, most importantly, love. GN 

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