TERRE HAUTE —
Loree Roberts stood behind her father, 91-year-old Ernest Long, as she greeted past graduates and present students of Long’s School of Cosmetology on Friday during a celebration of the business’s 40th anniversary in Terre Haute.
Her father and mother, Helen Jane Long, who died in 2000 at age 79, along with her older brother, Donald Long, started the business in 1973.
Donald Long, along with his daughter, Ramona, later took over the business, operating it from 1985 to 2011 as Long’s School of Hair Design at 1123 Wabash Ave. In 2011, Roberts was persuaded by her daughter, Britanee Stivers, now the school’s instructor, to take over the business. The two applied for a new tax identification number and reopened as Long’s School of Cosmetology.
Loree said she “prefers the business side of things. I was in the finance world for 13 years and got laid off (as the stock market went south), then I was in home health care for 21⁄2 years and Britanee said, ‘mom let’s try this.’ My brother had some health issues and it was time for him to retire, so we stepped in.”
“I was very hesitant. I had been around hair all my life and was not sure I wanted to do this,” she said, recalling as a youngster she cleaned hair from old radiator’s once used for heat and worked in a hair supply store in the basement of the building.
Now Loree, 51, said she is “excited.”
“We did a lot of face-lifting,” she said. Work included relocating an office, remodeling bathrooms making them handicapped accessible, and re-upholstered hydraulic chairs. “The chairs today do not last as long as these,” Loree said.
The school has graduated 41 students since 2011 and currently has 22 students, with a waiting list. The school offers full-time and part-time classes, as well as a manicurist program. An esthetician program, for facials, hair removal and massage therapy, will start Jan. 1. Also, two people in August will start an instructor’s program, Loree said.
A full-time student, at 35 hours a week, can finish in 10 months, while a part-time student can finish in a year. Cosmetology tuition is $6,000 to complete the schooling. Students receive 1,500 hours of instruction. The manicure program is $3,500.
Among photos of student graduates is a plaque that features a February 2013 issue of Modern Salon Magazine with Long’s School graduate Mario J. Smith.
Smith, 27, and nearly 7 feet tall, was part of a contest with Mattrix, a large hair product company. “They took six recent cosmetology graduates to go around the U.S. to different hair schools and work under their artistic educators and artistic directors,” Smith said.
He started in November 2011 at Long’s School. He is finishing the tour with Mattrix and said he will then look for employment in Terre Haute. “I ultimately want to work with Mattrix, and part-time in a salon, and be one of their artistic educators,” he said.
“This is a school where you get a lot of one-on-one time, where you can actually talk to the instructor and really get in-depth information on what you want to know,” Smith. “It is also a very, very friendly school. We all get along really well. I love everybody here. I am still in here occasionally, because I like to help out whenever Loree or Britanee needs anything.”
Smith graduated in December, 2012. He first came to Terre Haute from Gary to study at Indiana State University, then decided to get his cosmetology license “as I really love doing hair.”
Mary Ellen Linn retired in 2011 as associate vice president of business affairs, and previously associate vice president of student affairs/residential life, after 37 years of service at ISU. Linn graduated last year from Long’s and now works at Sandy’s Touch of Magic.
“I really enjoy this and it is totally different. It gives me something to do and I am still dealing with people. I love it,” said Linn, 61. “My biggest question when I started was is age a factor. It was not,” she said.
“I gained a lot of information on hair and skin. I was totally amazed that there was a lot of studying to do about chemicals and colors. I love it,” Linn said.
Loree said Linn “was our oldest student. We were intimated by her because she had a master’s degree. She was scared of us because she was starting a whole new career.”
Loree said her parents had a logo when they started. It’s a logo/slogan she has retained.
“It is ‘friendly service is always in style.’ We just want to be a step above,” Long said.
Memories remain a part of the business. There is a yellow rose with gold scissors on a wall in memory of Helen Jane Long.
“My mom’s favorite flower was a yellow rose. She was only 4 feet, 10 inches tall. She had little gold scissors special for her little fingers,” Loree said.
Britanee, 29, said it has been a good relationship working with her mother.
“We have our days,” Britanee said.
“I have been here roughly six years. I will be three years in May, 2014 that we took over,” she said. “My grandpa started this. Over the years it had its trials and tribulations like any family business does. It was in a situation where I wanted to change it before grandpa passes. It was rough at first. We started at six students. We keep our classes low, so there is more one-on-one,” she said. “We keep our tuition low so they are able to earn their education as they go.”
Loree said she hopes the business can continue, even into another generation.
Britanee’s 6-year-old daughter, Cambree, is a regular at the business.
“She gets a manicure about three times a week. She will say, ‘grandma, what grade do you think?’ She tells (students) the steps that they missed. It would not surprise me that she would follow in the footsteps,” Loree said.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.