Faces of balance: Carrie Manning & Valerie Leighty

These salon co-owners prioritize creativity and balance

Whether it’s a battle against “bed head” before the school day starts or an elaborate braiding session on the couch, many people grow up with memories of morning hair routines with their parents. But Carrie Manning and her mother, Valerie Leighty, never grew out of their love of styling hair together. 

The mother-daughter team co-owns V.C. & Co. Salon in Bluffton, which has consistently been named “Best Salon” in Bluffton Today’s Best of Bluffton Awards. Manning describes her business as “a little Steel Magnolias and a little Palmetto Bluff,” speaking to the salon’s quaint Southern charm and welcoming atmosphere. Manning and Leighty see their customers’ self-confidence walking out of their salon as a measure of their success as hair stylists and as a team. 

Manning grew up next door to both sets of her grandparents and says that seeing her mother’s relationship with her maternal grandmother set the tone for their own dynamic. Manning says that Leighty always has had her best interests in mind, from both an emotional and a financial standpoint. Manning was ready to make a career change about 20 years ago, and as mothers always know best, Leighty convinced Manning to join her at cosmetology school. 

“When people ask me how I work with my mom, I laugh because I can’t imagine not working with her,” Manning said. “I’m super blessed, and I definitely do not take our relationship for granted. She’s always been my best friend and biggest supporter, and she’s never put a glass ceiling over my head.” 

While Manning knows that her mother will always have her back – whether she needs someone to cover for a blow-dry appointment or someone to bounce around ideas with – their personalities are not “like mother, like daughter.” 

Manning, who says that Leighty is “the calm, quiet, supportive backbone that keeps me from running like a crazy train at a hundred miles per hour down a track,” describes herself as a “Type A” personality who’s learning to channel her energy into healthy practices. Leighty is Manning’s role model when it comes to balance, inspiring her to set aside time for yoga, painting and relaxation. 

“I think with all the events in the last two years, it was essential that we made sure that we live each day from a ‘work to live’ and not a ‘live to work’ perspective,” Manning said. “With both of us having creative brains, it’s important that we take some self-care time outside of the salon. Whether it’s painting on a canvas or a pot that we’ve thrown and built, it’s so much fun for us to work on art projects at the same time and always get totally different styles and results.” 

Manning’s and Leighty’s artwork provides another outlet for creativity and self-expression outside of the salon. Their artwork is currently for sale at The Complete Home in Old Town Bluffton. They also will be running a booth at the Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival on Oct. 15. 

“Watching our hobbies grow into passions has been so much fun to share with my mom,” Manning said. “She keeps me grounded but reminds me not to ever be afraid to fly.”

Key takeaways

1. Work with people who balance you out. We have polar opposite personalities, but we keep each other grounded – and keep the “crazy” in check – better that way.

2. Do what you love – always. If you are doing what you love with who you love, then you never really have to work.

3. Practice gratitude. Lead each day with a thankful and grateful heart and the universe will open up and return the favor. We are living proof.

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