By Tonya West
For Hometown News
Linda Priest arrived here 28 years ago from Maryland.
"I came with nothing," she said.
Now, happily married and the mother of two children, her business, Creative Designs in Hair and Nails in South Daytona, just celebrated its 25th anniversary in November.
"I was so blessed in the beginning," Mrs. Priest said. "I worked on Beach Street at a salon named Images for two years, built up my clientele then bought a small shop with only four chairs. We just built it up and we grew from there."
Creative Designs expanded out of its two previous locations (York Town Plaza and Big Tree) and now enjoys its 1,250 square feet at the Puswald Plaza.
"Emil is the best landlord I have ever had! I am thoroughly happy with him, he's a gem," Mrs. Priest said. Indeed, the commercial space is very well kept, meticulously landscaped and Mr. Puswald is a common presence seen tending to his property.
Creative Designs is a full service salon with eight experienced full- and part-time stylists who are experienced in all aspects of cosmetology. The salon also has two nail technicians and is looking for two more stylists to rent booths. It offers convenient parking within steps to the door and Mrs. Priest stressed how accommodating the stylists are with their customers in wheelchairs or walkers.
"We have ample room. We can do our customers' hair from the wheelchair; we'll just slide the hydraulic chair out of the way. We can shampoo our customers in a wheelchair by facing them toward the bowl. There are a lot of ladies who cannot lay back. They may have a pinched nerve, arthritis or various things. Even if they want to stand over the bowl, we'll accommodate them. We've very sensitive to our customers' needs," Mrs. Priest said.
Reggie, who had just finished having her hair done by Mary Sweeny, a stylist who has been with Creative Designs for almost 20 years, was kindly shown back to the waiting room to wait for her ride. A gift collection box for the Marine Corps League is set up in the waiting room for customers to donate to.
Mrs. Priest laughs when she reveals her stylists call her a "neat nut," but it doesn't bother her a bit. She likes to keep things clean and uncluttered, yet respects her stylists' needs for individuality. She sticks to a set of standards that includes being mindful of when referrals are made to her salon, so she can pair customers up with the right stylist.
"I love the accomplishment of pleasing people," Mrs. Priest said. "It makes me so happy."
"People come here to relax," she said. "We love to transform something dull into something brighter and more cheerful."
With easy access to Orlando, stylists stay up to date by attending international hair shows and occasionally a product retailer will conduct classes locally.
After you've been in business so long, it's easy to spot the styles coming back. When Mrs. Priest started out razor cuts and waves were all the rage and they have made a comeback.
Diversity keeps style fresh and Creative Designs' stylists all have unique specialties they individually offer: razor cuts, waves, modern styling, teasing, up-dos, coloring or hair extensions. The salon utilizes a whole suite of popular color products, including Pravana that is comprised of botanicals. The salon is excellent at making recommendations for your hair's needs and will order shampoos or conditioners especially for you.
Asked how her business has been successful for this long, Mrs. Priest has a quick reply. "It's very important to treat people with kindness."
Creative Designs in Hair and Nails is at 2100 S. Ridgewood Ave., Suite 1, and is open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Evening hours are by appointment only. Call (386) 761-1450 for an appointment.