By Hilary Kraus
Photography by Christian Lee
Asking Janie Ginn about her job without giving her time to gush over it would be like shampooing without using conditioner, applying mascara but not eyeliner or brushing on blush and leaving the lips colorless. It’s just wrong.
But not picking up on Janie’s interest and knowledge in beauty and skin care would be next to impossible. Janie teaches esthetics at the Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence (ACE) in Ridgeland. The career-oriented school, which jointly serves Beaufort and Jasper counties, is a 50-minute drive from the Ginn’s family horse farm in the town of Cummings in Hampton County. She’s been making the drive since being hired in 1994.
But for someone who wakes up every workday with the same enthusiasm as a kid fresh on the job, a round-trip commute of nearly two hours seems effortless. “I love cosmetology because I can create whatever I want to do,” said Janie, whose big, bubbly personality is as becoming as her appearance. “I do it because in this industry, if people feel the passion—whatever it is—then you can sell it to them.”
After years of teaching hair and makeup, Janie was instrumental in starting an esthetics program at ACE. Estheticians specialize in skincare treatments to the face and body for improvement of an individual’s appearance. Since starting the program in 2007, all of Janie’s 50 to 60 students over the years have passed the state board for licensed estheticians. “My students can walk out the door and work in a medical spa anywhere in the state with a dermatologist or physician. He or she would train them, of course, but you can go directly from this classroom into a medical setting,” Janie said.
Janie’s teaching environment is nothing like a conventional classroom. There are 10 plastic heads for the students to practice massage movements, facials, makeup applications and other skills. There also are 10 beds that are used by the seniors to perform spa procedures on clients. A sign that reads “My mission is to prepare students to master the skills needed to become licensed estheticians from the state of South Carolina,” hangs on the wall. “When you walk in the door, it’s just like going into a spa,” said Janie, whose students offer services to outsiders by appointment during school hours for a minimal fee.
Working in schools runs in the family. Janie’s late father, Willie C. Barnes, was self-employed in maintenance at the Hampton County schools. Her late mother, Beverly Barnes, worked in the Hampton Elementary lunchroom later in life. Today, Janie’s oldest daughter, Tara Boswell, is a kindergarten teacher at Patrick Henry Academy in Hampton. Her youngest, Raven Polk, teaches biology at ACE and provides excellent carpool companionship to and from work.
“I’ve always been in a teaching mode, from my early teenage years. By that, I mean I had a knack for doing hair,” Janie said. Janie started using her skills as a teenager, fixing wigs and hairpieces before she moved on to teaching women how to take care of their hair.
She branched out into cosmetology and later opened a beauty salon in downtown Hampton, which she sold years ago. She didn’t stop there, and started working at the local barbershop. Today, Janie owns and operates Janie’s Kut and Dry Barber Shop, although she’s scaled back her workload over the years.
Home life also brought plenty of opportunities to get dolled up and have fun doing it. “As a kid, when I was six, she did my hair when I dressed up as Dolly Parton for Halloween,” said Raven, a former Miss Wade Hampton teen beauty queen, and now 31. “I remember her doing my hair and makeup for all my pageants and proms, and there were a considerable amount of those over the years.”
Throughout her full workdays and multi-tasking as a wife and mother, Janie always continued to advance her education, earning instructor licenses and certifications related to her craft. Ask Janie if she can do a 14-step, straight-razor shave and she’ll quickly respond, “I certainly can.”
Ann Horry, who worked in the human resources department at ACE before retiring in 2010, remembers how Janie “would go the extra mile” for her students. “She’s a very caring person,” Ann said about her friend. “She’s always learning. She has a very inquisitive mind.”
But the good life isn’t all about spas and salons. Home is on a 200-acre property named Horse Broke Farm, where the family owns 15 American Quarter Horses and spends a lot of time Western horseback riding, 4-wheeling and on their John Deere Gator utility vehicle. When time permits, the family hits the road in a live-in Quarter Horse trailer that sleeps two.
“I love my family, my church, my job,” Janie said. And I love to ride horses.”
Background: Born in Hampton. Married to Jamie Ginn for 45 years; daughters Tara Boswell and Raven Polk; two sons-in-law, two grandchildren.
Where did you meet Jamie? At a local dance, back when we used to have them.
One simple preventative measure for aging: “Sunscreen. I can’t stress it enough. And when they're on the beach, the mistake is people think if they put it on in the morning, they’re good until they go home. You have to reapply all day.”
Farthest place you’ve traveled: Dallas and other places in Texas, and Boston.
Place you’d like to travel: The West—Arizona, Colorado, then possibly up to Oregon and Washington.