Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

It’s all about the hair: Local beauty shop continues tradition begun in a kitchen

A woman sits in a plush, black chair in the back of a salon, her fingertips pressed lightly together while she laughs with one of the hairdressers. She has glistening white hair with shimmers of gray visible, and deep brown eyes you can fall into even through her silver-rimmed glasses. Linda Day is the kind of woman who is warm like your favorite sweater, nestling into conversation like she’s known you all her life.
The salon is hers. No longer wielding scissors behind the chair, Day is three years retired. Her granddaughter, Alisa Payne, is now responsible for keeping The Beauty Shop in shape. The interior walls are painted a lipstick-worthy red, the hairdressing stations lining them littered with the women’s choice tools, cherrywood fans spinning lazily from the crème-colored ceiling. The smell of shampoo and hairspray seems to have permanently settled into the air, and aside from the mirrors, a beauty shop essential, pictures of local children are the main décor.
“We wanted to keep it simple,” Day says with a smile, her voice warm with a soft drawl. “That’s why we’re just called The Beauty Shop.”
Day’s salon has been grooming Jonesborough since 1986. Working from her home, Day brought in many customers, starting with her family and neighbors before bringing in other Jonesborough locals. She would wash their hair in the sink and brush them off at the kitchen table, all the while keeping an eye on her three children. The Beauty Shop has a number of those same clients presently, some of these ladies having watched over Linda’s daughters, who are now the women who fix their hair today.
Like many small business owners, Day found herself struggling financially in the beginning. The new building brought debt. However, when she moved to her present location on East Jackson Boulevard, so did her clients, and from there her livelihood grew.
“I was very, very scared,” Day recalls, her shoulders rounding slightly as if the memory still carried weight. “It was a big undertaking. We started out slow, but [my family] has been with me the whole time. It’s been a family situation all along.”
At 28 years old, The Beauty Shop has seen many styles come and go. According to Day, hairstyles cycle through the years much like trends in clothing, and if you keep something long enough, it’s quite likely it will come back in style, though there are some methods we may never see again.
“I can remember that one of the best things you could put in your hair to make it stay [was] beer,” she says with a chuckle. “You’d rinse ‘em in beer and that would make [their hair] kind of stiff. It would stay from one week to the next. Of course, it would take you as long to comb the tease out as it would to put it back in.”
One of the more prominent changes though, is that of product pricing. Day has seen perms go from $10 to over $70, and hair color costs easily top $100.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Day says, shaking her head. “The price has changed a great deal, but the people, the people are pretty much the same.”
According to her, the most enticing aspect of The Beauty Shop is the friendliness. All the hairdressers work well with the customers, as well as with one another, and above all, they hold fast to the ideology of family first. The women are kept as busy as they want to be, encouraged to work as much as they need to, but also are given the chance to take off to see their families and cheer their children on at ball games.
“I think that having them as friends has helped a lot,” Day shares. “And that’s the part that I miss. I don’t miss doing the hair, I miss the friendship. You don’t often get six or seven women together that can work without too many problems.”
Day has forged numerous relationships through her business, but one client in particular stays in her mind to this day: A retired teacher who frequented The Beauty Shop and passed away nine years ago.
“I had the honor of fixing her hair for the visitation,” Day says softly, her eyes shimmering. “You see many women, but she, she was a lady.”
Meagan White is a journalism student at MTSU. She was one of eight students who recently spent a week in Jonesborough writing stories for the Herald & Tribune.