By Beth Browne
Terra Marshall had no idea what she was going to do with her life. She’d been dabbling in this and that for a few years when she found herself with five girlfriends “messing around” with bleach and blue hair dye. “It was an eye-opening moment in my life,” she says. Terra was the only one brave enough to actually do the bleaching and dyeing and her friends were delighted to let her take over. She found herself enjoying it so much, she decided on the spot to go to beauty school. Fortunately, her grandmother had put some money aside to help pay for her grandchildren’s higher education, so Terra was able to start school right away. Attending school forty hours a week left little time for anything else, but Terra supplemented her income by continuing to work fifteen hours a week at the French Broad Co-op for the first six months; she eventually quit to concentrate on her schooling. She says, “From that point on, all I’ve been doing is hair.”
For a few years she worked in different salons, but grew disillusioned with being expected to follow trends in hairstyling and not being able to work with the customer more. Terra says, “Often times in this industry you’ve got to have your hair done a specific way, the way everyone else is doing their hair. There’s no uniqueness. People ask me all the time, ‘what’s in?’ and I ask them what they’re interested in, what their lifestyle is like, what they want in a style. You don’t have to follow the trends. I don’t box myself in,” she says, “I’ll do a roller set, I’ll do blue hair, I’ll do pink hair, blonde hair, whatever the customer wants– not what society is conforming to.”
She wanted to work with people who hold some of the values she does. “I like to live simply,” Terra says. “I don’t live to excess, I don’t charge everything on a credit card.”
Terra wanted a like-minded staff she could relate to. “I respect them as much as they respect me. We’re all a team. They’re just as much a part of Beauty Parade as I am. I wanted to create an environment that’s friendly, warm and welcoming, where people feel comfortable when they walk in the door, where they don’t feel like they’re being judged. It’s ok if you drive a beater car and come in with greasy hair. I’m going to wash it, and you’re going to look great by the time you leave.”
Terra started to think about opening her own salon and began looking for potential locations. She found a space on the corner of Haywood and Mildred in West Asheville. There were other businesses opening up along Haywood Avenue, and Terra saw promise in the renewal of the neighborhood. The decision to lease the space was made in just three days. Terra says she chose the location because it was ideally situated on a corner and had large windows on two sides. “Natural light is essential for cutting and coloring. You don’t have green lights above you, making your hair color look green when it’s actually gold. You’ve got the natural sunlight coming in and showing you what you’ve got.” Additionally, with the stoplight, people are often stopped there, and they can see inside. It’s like free advertising. With residential neighborhoods all around, people can walk over to get their hair done. Terra herself lives down the street and rides her bike to work.
At first, the area still had challenges. Terra says when the salon first opened a lady of the night was soliciting customers on the sidewalk in front of Beauty Parade in broad daylight. They tried talking to her, calling the police, but finally Terra’s husband, Bryan, came up with the brilliant idea– to tell her the area was under video surveillance. She never came back. Bryan is co-owner of the salon and has always taken an active interest in the business. A successful entrepreneur himself, Terra says he was a driving force in helping her start her own business.
Mountain Xpress readers voted Beauty Parade the Best Salon in Asheville for seven years in a row, and Terra has been voted a “best of” stylist during her entire career at Beauty Parade. “It makes me feel great that everybody appreciates what we’re trying to do here.” She says she’s very happy with the business she’s created. “The type of environment we’ve created brings in people who are easy to love and easy to get along with. It’s like social hour here. Sometimes it sounds like a cocktail party because everybody is just chatting it up. Some days I go home and say, ‘man, what a great day. I got to see all my friends!’”
Terra isn’t just running the business; she is an active part of it. “I’m behind the chair every day we’re open. I don’t have an assistant shampooing my client. I greet my client. I put the client in the chair, do the consultation, shampoo, and do the cut and blow dry. It’s the one-on-one personal touch.” Terra stresses that at Beauty Parade it’s not just women’s cuts: they also do great work with men and children. She says, “We’re here for you, no matter what your styling needs are.”
Beauty Parade can be found online at www.beautyparadesalon.com.
Beth Browne has two winsome tweens who wish she liked cooking as much as writing. She is thrilled to be the newest board member of the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop (http://myscww.org/) even though she lives in North Carolina. Ms. Browne can’t believe her good fortune in having a dream job as Associate Editor for The Main Street Rag Publishing Company (http://www.mainstreetrag.com/store/). In her spare time she enjoys sailing on Pamlico Sound with her best mate, Eric, and blogging at: http://bbwomenswrites.blogspot.com.