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Closeness to her clientele


                                                                                                             Photo by Christy Porter
Carolyn Wulff, owner/operator of Carolyn’s Beauty Shop, enjoys her work and customers. Customer Kay Ramsey enjoys her appointments and friendship with Carolyn.
By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

The Wulffs bought their place in 1970 with the intention of opening a beauty shop. Carolyn began in the house in 1971; with the theory if people would come the short distance out of town for her beautician skills, she would convert the unattached garage into a separate shop. It was also important to Carolyn that she remain in close proximity to her children, Suzie and John, who when young had a babysitter in the home. The response was very positive and the stand-alone shop opened mid-year 1972.
Marilyn Cantrell joined Carolyn in 1972 and was a positive employee for forty years, before retiring for medical reasons. Cantrell ran the shop for Carolyn for part of her tenure when circumstances required Carolyn to be unavailable. Cantrell attended high school while also attending beauty school in Salem.
When asked why a hair salon, Carolyn had a surprising reply, “My 10-1/2-month older sister, Marilyn, and I graduated from Bloomfield High School at the same time. There was a recently opened beauty college in nearby Dexter and Marilyn had expressed a desire to attend. The owner visited with my mother regarding my sister’s admittance. As they were visiting I walked through and the owner, needing students, offered my mother a deal she couldn’t refuse for the second daughter, which was me. The deal would be attending for the cost of the beautician’s license and the kit; total cost $32.00. I said ‘no.’ Mom said, ‘Carolyn you’re going to do hair.’ Marilyn was the one who wanted to do hair; she liked beautician school but did not enjoy doing the job. I didn’t like beautician school but have truly liked doing the job. I had applied for a position with the postal service and they called while I was attending school but I wanted to finish. It has made me a good living; it’s a good business and I have made a lot of good friends.” Bob, Carolyn’s husband, and she then helped her sister, Linda, three years younger, attend beautician school to become a hairdresser. One wonders was there ever a bad hair day for the three sisters?
Carolyn continued with the beauty shop and for a ten-year period also worked at TCMH as an EMT. As an EMT, when allowed, she worked 48-hour shifts on the weekend; when guidelines changed, she worked two 24-hour shifts on Saturday and Tuesday while continuing to work three days a week in the shop. Especially during this time period Cantrell’s assistance was invaluable. Cantrell says of her previous employer, “Carolyn was the best, never a cross word. She was an excellent employer and is an excellent friend, like family for 40 years starting from day one.”
Carolyn has seen hairstyles and methods change over the years. Early in her career an appointment would likely include shampoo, rollers, hair color, drying under a “cap,” a comb out and a lot of teasing for the bouffant look. Gradually it became shampoo, cut and style, with a blow-dryer, although some still preferred rollers. Permanents have stayed consistently popular for the body they provide to a style. Styles evolved from the bubble, flip and updo. Now everybody’s different and Carolyn likes that personal uniqueness. The methods have also changed for hair coloring and permanents. Carolyn remembers being the first in town to have a permanent wave machine. Utilizing pre-heated clamps, everybody loved it and it paid for itself in a two-week time period. Now the heat is done by a chemical additive.
Oftentimes the beauty shop becomes a place where clients share their lives. Therefore Carolyn has always lived by some basic rules. “Never repeat, whatever is said. Sometimes people just need to share,” she says. “And don’t talk politics, religion or share gossip.” Following these basic rules has resulted in Carolyn becoming close to her clientele. Customers have become friends and friends have become customers. This way of doing business has resulted in 48-plus years of a very satisfying career and numerous friendships. Many of her customers return to get their hair done when visiting, even when moving as far away as Flint, Mich. She has also done hair for a lot of out-of-towners when they visit the area. When asked if there are any plans about retiring, Carolyn replied, “As long as the good Lord is willing, I’ll be here.”
Services currently offered are cuts, styling, permanents and hair color. No manicures. Carolyn may be reached at Carolyn’s Beauty Shop, Hwy. 32 East, (573) 674-3614.

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