Sue Dezi Bailey styled a career for herself 40 years ago at a time when it was rare to see a woman-owned business.
Dezi Hair Fashions in Sharpsburg celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and Bailey relishes her roots in the borough.
It was 1979 when she opened her first shop on North Canal Street near the statue of Chief Guyasuta. Bailey recalls hiring a 17-year-old neighbor as a shampoo girl.
Now, that apprentice — Roseann Casile — has become a “silent partner” as the business continues to flourish.
“I’m not so silent,” Casile said, laughing.
Both of the women know and love Sharpsburg.
The salon’s present location at 1102 North Canal Street is the home of the former Santelli’s Market, once owned by Casile’s family.
Today, friends and customers congregate on Saturdays at the salon for doughnuts, coffee and conversation.
Bailey and Casile cite the relationship with their customers as the best part of their job.
“We have to at least make you laugh once before you leave,” Casile said.
Perhaps the worst part of the business’ longevity is the death of older customers. Still, the pair often provide a farewell service because they work with a local funeral home.
“We give them their last beauty treatment and send them through the pearly gates looking perfect,” Casile said.
Bailey remembers her early days in business, littering Sharpsburg with flyers to promote the fledgling shop.
“The first year was really hard,” Bailey said. “We were just babies.”
About nine months after she started up, her father died. He was her biggest supporter and she kept going with him in mind, Bailey said.
Having learned her skills at what is now A.W.Beattie Career Center, Bailey said the hardest part of owning a business is not knowing for sure if bills can be paid at the end of the week.
But this is still a dream job for both women, they said.
Hairdos have changed over the years and they chuckle over the curly perms and big hair, which were all the rage in the ‘80s.
Younger customers deem it the “Marge Simpson” look.
Casile laughs that she wore a Dorothy Hamill wedge.
The women use the Internet and YouTube to keep up with new styles, but they review magazines and hair shows the old-fashioned way, too.
After four decades of business, through five moves of the salon, the women stay positive and eager to stay in Sharpsburg.