From the Farrah Fawcett to the Dorothy Hamill, when it comes to hair styles, Carol Roney has seen it all.
And for the longtime owner of Beauty Haven, every day is a new adventure, whether she’s setting a perm, touching up roots or doing a blow-out.
Roney always knew she wanted to be a hair dresser so when she graduated from Revelstoke secondary school, she wasted no time in signing up for the six-month hair styling course at Blair’s School of Hairdressing in downtown Vernon.
“I always enjoyed doing hair and when I used to babysit as a teenager I did hair on the kids’ Barbie dolls,” said Roney, who purchased Beauty Haven in 1975 and has recently relocated the downtown Vernon business to new premises down the street.
After graduating from Blair’s, Roney did a one-year apprenticeship back home in Revelstoke then a one-month course at a vocational school in Vancouver to complete her education and earn her licence
But having met Gerry Roney, the man who would become her husband, there was no question she would eventually make her home in Vernon.
“I met Gerry in 1972 and I worked at a few different salons part-time, eventually working at Beauty Haven under its previous owner. My daughter was just five months old when I started working there.”
In the early days, each styling station was surrounded by curtains, giving clients privacy.
“And we sold lots of wigs in the early days but the difference is that in those days people wore them as a fashion accessory and didn’t mind people knowing they were wearing a wig. Now, we sell them more for people who have lost their hair for medical reasons.”
Roney began working at the salon in September, 1974 — the following May, she was the new owner of Beauty Haven.
“I had no intention of buying a salon, but one of the other stylists convinced me.”
Roney’s daughters, Heather and Rachelle, provided the ideal models for their mom to try out different hair styles.
“They have had some fun hair styles over the years,” said Roney, laughing. “I would go to hair shows and come back very excited to try the latest style on my girls, although they weren’t always so enthusiastic.”
Now, with her daughters grown up and living on the Coast, Roney makes regular trips south to see them, and her three grandchildren.
“I get to do their hair when I go down, and my grandson Jack has just informed me that he would like purple hair when he starts school, so that’s what we’ll do.”
And while styles come and go, there is one constant that never changes: the relationships Roney has with her clients, many of whom have been climbing the Beauty Haven staircase for years.
“We still do lots of perms and colours,” she said. “I feel you have to be able to offer the traditional mixed with the new — I used to do the old pin curl wave, and in the old days it used to be all roller sets and updos and the customers would come and wait their turn to be combed out. Nowadays people want something fast, but we do have a lot of clients who are in no hurry, who are happy to just relax and enjoy their time here.
“We have a very loyal clientele and I have people who have been coming here for more than 40 years, since before I bought the salon. Service is so important and my girls are so helpful — we have long-term clients where we have gone to their home or to the hospital if they couldn’t make it in. And it was nothing for us to carry walkers and oxygen tanks up the stairs for our clients.”
Roney and her stylists — Rosalie and Sue — stay up to date by attending hair shows and she said it keeps them fresh and excited about what they’re doing.
“But I still have some customers who come in for a wash and set every week.”
Two weeks ago, Roney packed up her styling tools and re-opened Beauty Haven at the old Styles on Mane location.
“I woke up at 3 a.m. one morning and made the decision that it was time to move the shop. And as soon as we told our customers, they were all so excited.”
The new space is bright and airy, with black and chrome chairs, glittering light fixtures, a kitchen and space for an electrologist.
“The first thing I put in was the chandeliers, I wanted it to look elegant,” said Roney, who chose a black and white colour scheme and put her husband to work drywalling, painting and recovering chairs.
“We have some amazing friends in the business and they were so good at getting everything done, and my husband worked non-stop to get everything finished in time.”
At the Aug. 22 grand opening of Beauty Haven’s new location, Roney will be joined by members of her close-knit family.
“My daughters want us to do the ‘70s styles for the grand opening, which would be fun, so we’ll see.”
Roney said the best part of her new salon is that it is on the ground floor.
“So I’ve had clients come back to us who could not make it up the stairs before.”
After four decades in the business, Roney said she still loves every aspect of her work.
“I love all of it, someone asked me recently if I get tired doing perms and the same thing, but I don’t think about, I just get on with it and I really enjoy it.”