It was no straight path for Cynthia Hatch to Halo Hair Studio.

The Walla Walla woman had worked in everything from real estate to insurance and then came out of an early retirement that was punctuated by a horrible leg break in Tucson for a new career that brought her back to town and the salon owned by her daughter early this year.

Construction on the main street passing by the business began shortly after, and the rocky road outside of Halo, 1520 Isaacs Ave., serves at the moment as another symbolic step in the long road to get here.

Halo was launched in 2015 by Walla Walla stylist Marcelle Baumann, known in the industry for her balayage hair painting and as an educator for Luxia Artiss, the European hair-extension company that launched in the U.S. over the last year. Since its start, Halo operation has grown to a bustling team of eight people, reputed for coloring, on the northernmost edge of the Eastgate complex.

If not for her daughter, Hatch might not have pursued the beauty business, she said from the quaint space where her operation, Simply Skin, elevates the salon to a full-service shop.

Hatch retired with her husband five years ago as a longtime resident of Walla Walla. She’d worked in numerous capacities — selling real estate, mortgage lending, insurance sales and in a supportive role for her husband’s business. Her various positions in the workforce typically allowed her flexibility to manage her other role as mom to six now-adult kids.

In 2014 and in her early 50s, she followed her husband into his retirement and they set out as snowbirds, visiting 35 states in four years. They chose their idea of paradise — Tucson — to settle down for one year’s time as they assessed their next move. But one week into moving into their new apartment, Hatch had a terrible leg fracture that resulted in surgery. What was expected to be a six-month recovery took a year. She found herself miserable with depression through her immobility.

In a telephone call to Baumann, the idea struck: “Go to school and then move back to Walla Walla and become my esthetician,” her daughter suggested.

Hatch enrolled at 58 and went through her entire training through recovery — from wheelchair to scooter to walker. She completed her training last October and moved here shortly after.

Inside her Simply Skin studio space, designed to improve the health and beauty of skin, a table stretches through the middle of the space where clients receive treatments.

A round magnifying light to the right of Hatch allows her a close-up view for skin consultations. Overhead, a square panel can be lowered for LED light treatments — each light color offering a different benefit.

On her left, a machine offers five different treatments to address aging, dark spots, leathery skin, fine lines and wrinkles. Three pots of wax constantly warm on a shelf behind Hatch’s stool. Her services also include brow work, eyelash lifts, hydra facials and chemical peels.

“This is my kingdom,” she said. “I love it. It’s really fun.”

The services, Baumann said, extend the offerings of the experienced staff beyond the hair services for which Halo is known. It also pairs the mother/daughter team together in their areas of expertise.

“I love the fact that I added something of substance to an already thriving business,” Hatch said. “And it’s my daughter’s, which makes it even better.”


Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

Vicki covers business and economic development, including tourism, the Port of Walla Walla and the Strictly Business column, as well as features. She has been reporting for the Union-Bulletin since late 2001.

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