Carrboro Commons

Customers reluctant to trim salon visits from budgets

Posted on April 1st, 2009 in Carrboro Connections,Economy,Lifestyles by jock

By Virginia McIlwain
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

On a recent Friday morning, a steady stream of customers filtered through the side door of 102 Center St., greeted by the familiar snip of sharpened scissors and faint roar of a hair dryer echoing through the wide wooden hallway of the century-old mill house.

mcilwain_paulettefinal.jpg Stylists Angela Iamuzzella (left), of Chapel Hill, and Beverly Mauney (middle), of Hillsborough, pose with Curl Up & Dye owner Paulette Wilkie, of Pittsboro. According to Wilkie, the recent economic downturn has had little effect on the salon’s business. “I think hairstyling is one thing people will give up very last,” she said.
Staff photo by Virginia McIlwain

A brief glance at the day’s headlines is all it takes to recognize that times are tough for many, as the nation’s economy continues its precipitous decline. Yet, here at Curl Up & Dye, a fixture in Carrboro’s hairstyling community for more than two decades, business is good.

According to Paulette Wilkie, the salon’s owner, customers are willing to trim a lot of things from their budgets, but don’t ask them to give up their salon visits.

“I think hairstyling is one thing people will give up very last,” said Wilkie. “Even now, people who have lost their jobs are still coming in before they go to interviews.”

As unemployment continues to rise and consumer spending wanes, many beauty salons are proving to be resistant to the nation’s bleak economic forecast.

In recent months, buzz has once again surrounded the “lipstick effect,” an economic theory credited to Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estée Lauder Companies. Lauder hypothesized that, in economically trying times, high lipstick sales reflect an increase in consumer demand for cheaper cosmetic products as people look for less expensive ways to treat themselves.

In keeping with this trend, affordable salons and beauty services also appear to fulfill consumers’ needs for small indulgences during times of economic recession, and hair stylists like Wilkie are taking notice.

Customers seem keen on leaving their beauty routines alone, even when money is particularly tight. However, according to Wilkie, some book appointments less frequently, stretching the time in between a haircut and color a little longer.

It’s no wonder that so many of Wilkie’s clients are hesitant to give up their usual perms, trims and dye jobs — quite a few have had their hair styled under her watchful eye and careful hand for nearly three decades.

After moving back to the area with her husband in the early 1980s, Wilkie began styling hair at a salon in Chapel Hill and soon relocated to a shop on Weaver Street in Carrboro. Eventually, she opened her own business in that same space before moving her salon to a house on Ashe Street. Her business is now entering its second year in its Center Street location.

“I’ve had customers I’ve done for more than 25 years,” said Wilkie. “Several have come all the way with me from Chapel Hill to Carrboro. I love the people, the friendships you make over the years.”

Wilkie now leases space in her salon to three other stylists, Stephanie Ford, Angela Iamuzzella and Beverly Mauney.

According to Iamuzzella, the salon’s upbeat atmosphere and the positive relationships she shares with her fellow stylists make Curl Up & Dye a special place for both customers and employees.

“We really love each other,” said Iamuzzella. “We’ve never had any problems getting along.”

“We do mesh pretty well,” echoed Mauney from her spot by the sink.

If the scene in the shop on this particular morning is any indication, spirits here are certainly high. It looks as though the customers who continue to frequent beauty salons despite the recent economic downturn might be on to something — a great cut and color can do wonders for one’s mood, especially when times turn tough.

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