Tri-City Ledger -

By Gretchen McPherson
Ledger Staff 

Eloise's Beauty Shop

Grand Opening Sat., Aug. 4


August 9, 2018

This past Saturday, the grand opening of Eloise's Beauty Shop in its new location on College Street in Flomaton prompted friends, clients, relatives and locals of all ages to pay a visit to what some may consider a part of their childhood. Eloise's Beauty Shop was located on Ringgold Street for 57 years, when Jo (Trawick) Nolan's mother, Eloise Trawick, opened it in 1960.

“My mother was one of the first customers at Eloise's,” said Martha Harper-Day. “I remember going out to the Trawick House for Mom to get her hair done, because the new shop was not open yet. She was in the process of opening it. The next thing I remember is going into the new Eloise's and the strong smell of perm.”

“I was 5 when mom went to work at Bertie's Beauty Shop,” said Nolin. “I was there after school and Saturdays.”

Nolin said her job was to pick up bobby pins with a magnet. She said the blowdryers made it hot in the store and she doesn't remember if there was air-conditioning or not, as she swept up hair too.

“Mom worked 12 hours a day,” said Nolin. “Cold waves were coming into the business, as they weren't doing machine perms anymore. The industry had been the same for years and years.”

Nolin said she watched as her mother learned the new hair styling methods and how that helped to form her own work ethic.

“Then beehives came in the 60's and hair became teased,” said Nolin. “Haircuts were $1.25 and perms were $5, which was the most expensive service we had.”

Nolin said she kept working in her mother's new store when it opened on Ringgold Street in 1960. Nolin was about 10 years old and had graduated from shampooing hair to being an assistant, handing her mother perm rods, rollers and anything else she needed.

“We were in the new shop now, and had air conditioning,” Said Nolin. “I didn't think about going into the business then, it's just what I did. I graduated from high school and went to cosmetology school in 1967 for seven months.”

Nolin worked with her mother in the shop until 1970, when she wed David Nolin. The couple moved away fro two years and returned to Flomaton in 1972.

“From 1972 to about 1978, things stayed the same in the hiar styling business,” said Nolin. “Teased hair, cold waves, the usual. Around 1967, Vidal Sassoon came on the scene in England. It took a while to get to the U.S., but he introduced new angular cuts and things began to change a little. The look became London-all Twiggy and the Beatles, from structured styles to unstructured styles.”

Nolin said she kept up with new styling and revolutionary techniques, which some hair dressers don't do.

“In the late 70's, they had the first blow dryers,” she said. “We stopped rolling hair and putting them under the dryers. Older folks teased and young folks ironed. With the onset of blow dryers, our industry was changed permanently. People began doing their own hair at home. It almost killed the business until the late 70's early 80s brought afros and curly perms, which brought people back into the shop. It was the time of big hair.”

Nolin said he mother retired in 1978. At that point Jo took over the shop.

“Hair styles changed and people began styling their own hair at home,” she said. “The absence of big hair hurt the industry again. Frosting became popular, but was painful to endure. It was replaced by highlighting, which got people back in the salon.”

According to Nolin, the fashion industry drives the salon business and as a result, is always changing, just like fashion.

“Around 2013, vivid hair colors came in style,” she said. “Kids like to express themselves through different-colored hair. It used to be called ‘punk’. It’s not about rebellion. I let these kids know it’s okay to express themselves.”

Nolin learned how to foil, which helped the business. She said it was business as usual until she received a letter in October of 2017, requesting that she move to vacate the space that had been Eloise's for 57 years.

“I was devastated,” said Nolin. “I didn't want to quit. My husband, David, asked me what I wanted to do.”

Nolin said at that point, she and her husband began looking for a space where she could continue her mother's legacy. The couple found a gutted mobile home and with the help of a friend, Don Cox, they have been able to save what she and her mother worked so hard to build.

“She taught me how to work,” said Nolin. “She taught me how to put in an honest day's work and get an honest day's pay. I am blessed and I can bless somebody. I am able to minister, to witness. People know I love the Lord first and I am going to them like family. That's Eloise's. That's who I am. I've been a hairdresser for 50 years.”


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