December 25, 2010 11:38:00 PM
It''s the season for believing -- in Santa Claus, in miracles and in the magic of all that the holidays deliver. Ten years ago, a guy from a small town armed only with the passion to follow a dream and a few bobby pins arrived on the scene in Jackson, and it has been a rollercoaster ride from day one.
Earle and Joseph Salon was an institution of hairdressing, a beacon of style and class for generations under the leadership of Joseph Bagley and Earle Thomas, but I knew nothing of this before walking through the front doors for my interview. It was a bone-chilling day as I flew up to Highland Village in my convertible, long scarf flowing and résumé in hand, and I can still remember the magic of that enormous chandelier in the foyer.
The new kid in town was hired on the spot without even quite recognizing what had happened, until I arrived home and was greeted with, "You got hired where? Wow, that''s probably the state''s most famous salon."
It began to dawn on me how blessed I was as I took my place among the great artists it housed. Aunt Myrtis, who styled hair in Beverly Hills, folded my fingers around a rattail comb and showed me the "right" way to weave and slice hair for highlights. Then there was Joanie, with her vibrant copper hair, who could (and still can) polish a French twist to utter perfection, hiding all the bobby pins, no less.
During my stay at Earle and Joseph, I orchestrated bridal showcases, prom nights and helped to host half a dozen celebrity artists from all over the nation, but the single best thing I gained from passing through that unparalleled beauty mecca was self-confidence. Before my time there, I was a talented hair dresser in the making. After my time there, I was an artist.
A few seasons after hitting the stage at Earle and Joseph, a local newspaper began running half page weekly makeovers starring some of the beautiful women in the community and yours truly. When we were brainstorming the idea, I was sunning on the deck of the Frenchmen''s Reef Resort on St. Thomas before a massage. Editor and friend Jimmye Sweat and I kept going back and forth about a title when the right one came to me: "It''s All About You."
Dozens of flashbulbs, mascara wands and stylish coifs later, the community sat front row while a new star found her shine with a new cut, hair color and makeup each week. Cancer survivors found their way back to feeling pretty. Stay-at-home moms felt extraordinary, and I even made over an official Sweet Potato Queen "wannabe" with the help of Her Majesty, Jill Conner-Brown.
At warp speed, a shy, unknown young man from Richton, population 895, became "The Makeover Guy" and eventually had the chance to write beauty columns for the Clarion-Ledger''s publications. A dream that I never even recognized began to come true, and there are many people I thank and honor for their support along the way.
Fast forward to this Christmas. Many holidays later, I sit on an antique settee in my new salon after a magical day of smiling faces. The lights from the garlands are twinkling, and the sounds of Bing Crosby are wafting through the rooms as I remember all the times I had to believe in myself along the way and all the times I had to pinch myself to find out if I was dreaming!
I met Vidal Sassoon and Heidi Klum, became fast friends with Ted Gibson, Ken Paves and Billy Brasfield, all beauty industry royalty, shared beauty "secrets" with dozens of students in my Millsaps workshops, traveled to New York City more times than I can count, and said goodbye to so many treasured people along the way -- a client who became a dear friend and left this world much too soon, the people of Columbus who were just starting to be my friends when that chapter of my life came to an unexpected end ... but I never stopped believing.
So, my Christmas wish for all of you is always to believe in Santa if it makes your heart flutter, believe in peace and, most of all, believe in the beauty of you. I have learned a lot about the value of friendship and generosity along the way, and I think I have received the biggest "makeover" of all!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you.
Former Columbus resident David Creel owns Beautiful With David salon in Jackson and has 20 years experience in the beauty industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.