Decades of Style: A Hairstylist Has Operated a Salon For Over 50 Years | New

VALDOSTA – The Russell Vanity Box has been a Martin Luther King Jr. Drive staple for 57 years.

Owner Barbara Byrd, 85, plans to maintain her hair salon until she turns 90.

The native of Valdosta began her cosmetology journey in 1962, later opening the Vanity Box in 1964.

“All my adult life I have done hairstyles,” she said.

The mother of four said she first started styling local people before setting up her business.

Although she has been a mentor for the students, she is currently the only full-time stylist in her salon.

Prayer is what has sustained the Vanity Box for as long as it has, Byrd said.

“It’s been quite difficult at times, but it’s convenient,” she said of having her salon near her home.

Byrd primarily does press and curl styles or perms for their clients, without offering any braiding or weaving.

Previously, she said she was a stylist for the deceased at the Scotts and Roberts Mortuary.

“They all accepted me,” she said. “I had no problem.”

His goddaughter, Valdosta City Councilor Sandra Tooley, said Byrd was well respected and supported others.

Tooley lived next door to Byrd for several years. She said her mother was Byrd’s apprentice during her beauty school years.

It was tradition for Byrd to style Tooley’s hair for his birthday; Tooley called it a birthday present from Byrd.

“She always styled my hair for birthdays, even when I lived out of town,” Tooley said. “Barbara Ree always sent me a birthday card. She never forgot my birthday.

Byrd said she has a goal for the future of her business.

“Just to work until I can’t anymore,” she said.

The Russell Vanity Box is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Friday.

Call (229) 244-0340 for more information.

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