Regina Deans has seen and accomplished much in the cosmetology field. She and the two co-owners of Legacy Hair Salon have a combined 55 years in the hairstyling business.
“I have seen a lot of people come and go. This (cosmetology business) is 80 percent business and 20 percent talent. It is not for everybody. If you’re not punctual, dedicated, or have good customer service, you are not going to last,” said Deans from the confines of the salon where she has been a fixture since 2013.
What Makes Legacy Special
The salon, located at 2219 Minnesota Ave SE, got its name after the three women – Deans, Yvette Chandler, and Demetra “DeeDee” Rhone – bought the shop in 2018 from Pauline Jones, who was retiring.
Ms. Jones wanted to keep the shop in the “family” and the three women decided to pool their money and buy the salon, so Jones would not have to sell to a “complete stranger.” Deans, who is the majority owner, manager, and a full-time hairstylist, owns 40 percent of the business while the other two owners each have a 30 percent share.
Chandler emphasized that the name of the hair salon was inspired by the success and influence of three previous owners and the fact that three women united to own and operate the shop.
“Legacy is special because it gives back to the community including men and especially helps uplift women of color in (Ward 8 and East of the River),” said Chandler who only works in the salon on Saturdays. During the week she maintains her longtime federal government job at DoD as a Program Manager.
Deans has approximately 100 regular clients that she sees on a rotating basis. She sees some customers just once a month, while others every two weeks, and a third portion weekly. Regardless of the frequency, Deans has established a rapport with all her clientele.
“I’ve become friends with many of my clients. I have attended their birthday parties, weddings, and anniversaries. I think the relationship I have of providing this service of uplifting a woman’s spirit is extremely important,” said Deans who also grew up in Ward 7 at the now defunct East Capital Dwellings projects and got her love for cosmetology as a high school student at Paul Laurence Dunbar Senior High School.
Realizing how important well-maintained hair is to a woman’s self-esteem, she has given heavily discounted services to women who were going through a traumatic situation such as loss of income, divorce, and even mental instability.
“I remember doing one woman’s hair who’d walk up and down constantly on Minnesota Avenue passing the shop several times. Her family wouldn’t trust her with money because of her addiction and would sometimes pay me later for doing her hair. She needed (that shampoo, cut, and style) to feel beautiful and whole,” Deans said emphatically.
Deans has counseled one or two customers suffering from alopecia—a condition that causes premature baldness. She encourages those clients to seek medical attention from a dermatologist while determining the best treatment plan. Extensive weight gain, illnesses like diabetes, and even turbulent mood swings can detrimentally affect people’s hair, Deans warned.
Like a bartender, therapist, and even perhaps a priest, cosmetologists like Deans, have seen unusual occurrences and heard sordid tales while shampooing and styling a customer’s hair or recommending a specific beauty procedure for a weave or wig.
The 53-year-old cosmetologist recalls, with a slight shiver, when a married hairstylist (no longer employed at the salon) started dating her client’s husband. Deans cannot say when the awkward love triangle ended because the client stopped frequenting the salon after she learnt about the affair and the hairstylist later departed.
“I go to Legacy Hair Salon because of one young lady named Sharon Drake. She shas been doing my hair since she was 16 years old. She is just a wonderful hairstylist. The salon is always clean, they’re not overpriced, they still do social distancing, and for me they are convenient,” said satisfied customer Joyce Smith, 70, a retired Employee Development Specialist living in Penn Branch who worked for the Internal Revenue Service.
Rhone, the third co-owner and only non-hairstylist, does all the administrative services and “things that need to get done.” She says that part of Legacy Hair Salon’s charm is its ties to the community.
“We had a pamper distribution (for young needy mothers) and we are trying to have a coat drive as well. The COVID pandemic has made everything harder. The previous owner, Ms. Pauline (who is the grandmother of Rhone’s child), gave away Thanksgiving baskets for 20 years. We want to continue doing that.”
Rhone, an Anacostia native who “knows a lot of people in the community” is responsible for paying all the bills including taxes and ensuring that all the hairstylists’ licenses are up to date with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA).
As DC continues to change, thanks to gentrification, redistricting, and other reasons, both the owners and stylists have had to embrace change.
No longer are there only women clientele. Men are regular customers too who require cleaning and conditioning for their braids and dreadlocks on a consistent basis. A sizable portion of clients now come to Legacy to have their weaves and extensions expertly treated and touched-up. The success of Legacy, according to Deans, could be even greater because the owners have a vision to do more.
“The biggest challenge is finding dependable people to stay long-term and work. We would love to become more diverse and employ a full-time Caucasian or Asian hairstylist,” said Deans. The salon does not have a website yet, but has a resence on social media at Legacy Hair Salon on Facebook and Legacy Salon 3 on Instagram.