SLAYTON — Eden Bengston grew up in Slayton dying for big-city life.

Now, she's investing in the town she loves by opening Honey Bee Cosmetology.

Bengston said it took her some time after high school to decide on a career path. The daughter of a teacher and a plumber, she was open to a variety of paths. After taking a gap year, Bengston enrolled in cosmetology school, ultimately graduating from Avalon in Worthington.

"I wanted to do all of the things," Bengston said of her cosmetology study. She worked for a chain salon for a while, then at Slayton Beauty Shop, then studied at a nail salon in Marshall.

For the past year, she has worked at The Plaid Moose on Slayton's main street, trying to pay off student loans before making any more big changes.

Bengston is finally ready to follow the path she's wanted to walk for a long time.

"I've wanted to be in the medical field forever," she said. In January, she will begin nursing school at Minnesota West Community and Technical College. Honey Bee Cosmetology, which is set to open Friday, will not only help defray some school expenses, but has a host of translatable skills that will help her as a nurse.

Opening a salon during nursing school was always the plan for Bengston.

"I'm feeling very proud of myself that I'm finally there," she said.

Honey Bee Cosmetology represents a return to Slayton Beauty Salon — only this time, Bengston is a booth renter, not an employee. She will function as a separate business, responsible for her own expenses and taxes.

"It's very nerve-wracking," she said. "But I'm more excited that anything. It's a new adventure for me."

Bengston hopes that her previous stint at Slayton Beauty Salon, combined with her hometown roots, will give her name recognition. She also hopes to offer something a little different than her competitors — "which is difficult," she noted, "because we (Slayton) have a lot of salons."

This is where Bengston's nail salon experience will come in handy. Basic nail care is offered in Slayton, but to have acrylics done, clients have to travel to Worthington or Marshall. Bengston's acrylic expertise will provide a service that is otherwise unavailable locally.

Honey Bee Cosmetology opens Friday so Bengston can cover the pre-Thanksgiving crowd, but she won't quite be done working at The Plaid Moose until Dec. 1. From Dec. through Jan. 9, Bengston will run Honey Bee full-time, after which she will start school. As a student, Bengston will mostly be available at Honey Bee in the evenings, about 15 to 25 hours per week. She will also open the salon during her school breaks.

Much of what Bengston has learned as a cosmetologist will translate into nursing skills, she noted.

"I've worked in many types of salons, around many people," she said. "I like people, even cranky people."

Both professions also help people feel better, Bengston said. A bad haircut can be as damaging to a woman's self-image as an injury can be, she added. Bengston has learned in cosmetology how to read people, how to listen and how to comfort — all important to nurses, as well.

Even as a nurse, Bengston said she plans to always do some part-time cosmetology work.

Eventually, Bengston hopes to get licensed to work as a cosmetologist in a hospital, combining both her passions. Ordinarily, cosmetologists aren't allowed to work on hospital patients because they don't know how to manage medical conditions. However, as a nurse, Bengston would have a niche set of skills overlapping into both areas of expertise.

Honey Bee Cosmetology hours are by appointment only. Bengston is reachable via Facebook or Instagram private message, as well as by phone at (507) 227-6551.