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50 years and still going strong for Crows Landing salon

"Mary Jane Ford, owner and operator of Mary Jane’s Salon of Beauty in Crows Landing, is celebrating 50 years in the business with as much enthusiasm for her work today as when she first started in 1961.

Her years in the salon have fostered lasting friendships and many memorable moments, ranging from last-minute hairdo rescues to one drive-in visitor.

"I love my job so much I don’t consider it work but rather something I enjoy doing," she recently expressed.

Ford knew at a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in cosmetology, and grew up to realize that dream.

She said her interest probably began as she learned to manage her own curly hair, and that branched out into cutting other people’s hair, trying out different styles, home perming and such.

Her family and her friends were all willing participants as she discovered she had a natural talent and was set on making a career out of it after graduation.

"I practiced on anyone who I could get to sit still," she recalled of those early days. "I knew that when I grew up I wanted to do this for my job."

After graduating from Orestimba in 1961, completing cosmetology school and passing the board tests, Ford was ready to officially begin her career.

As it turned out, just about two weeks after getting her license the salon in Crows Landing was in need of someone to fill in while the operator was home recuperating from an injury.

Little did she know that her path had been charted.

"I knew nothing about Crows Landing at the time, but I knew some people from school who lived there so thought it would be a good opportunity to get started," Ford reflected.

"When I started we (the industry) were in the middle of the transition between using pin curls and metal curlers," Ford described. She introduced clients to the new technique of three rollers up and two on the sides…..a big deal at the time, she fondly recalled. She loved going to work from her first day.

Her plans were to work there for a short time, happy to be at a paying job. However, as generations of loyal customers can happily attest, life had other plans.

A few weeks "filling in" turned into three months and when the owner decided to sell, Ford purchased the business and Mary Jane’s Salon of Beauty was created. Just like that, she was in business for herself. "I had no plans to own my own shop when I went to school but the timing was just right," she noted.

Fifty years later, she is still at it, her shop just one door down from where she first started on Highway 33. Ford purchased her current location in 1973.

She has seen many advances in techniques and hairstyles through the years, but said the most important aspects of her profession have remained. Her job is about the people, her clients, the camaraderie they have developed over the decades. "My clients are my extended family," she fondly expressed.

And like family, Ford comes through in the clutch for her beloved clients.

A cosmetologist doesn’t have a "9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday" job. Appointments are made that fit around the client’s schedule, many with regular weekly times, others on a moment’s notice.

One of her lifelong clients recently reminded her of one of those last minute calls. Her mother had given her a "mushroom haircut," and the girl was too devastated to go to school the next day.

She phoned Ford in the middle of the night and asked her if she could perform a hairstyle rescue. "I met her down at the salon and fixed it for her so she could face her friends the next day," Ford recalled with a smile. That was just one of the many hair repairs she gladly performed through the years.

Giving that personal service is what makes her business special to her.

Crows Landing remained her business home through the years.

"I had a few opportunities at different times to move my business to Newman but I could never leave my Crows Landing family," the dedicated business owner shared. Besides, her clients have told her it was somehow providential for her to land in Crows Landing since that is where she was born. Her family lived there until moving to Newman when she was a baby. "They tell me I was meant to come home to my roots," she said.

She is looking to stay there for many more years to come.

"I have no plans to retire, haven’t even thought of it," Ford stated, especially after the refurbishing work that was completed recently. She finally got the leopard print carpet she had wanted for years as well as new floors, windows and paint.

The remodeling wasn’t entirely voluntary……but became a necessity after a pickup truck slammed into the building in 2009.

"The accident was a godsend in some ways because it prompted me to get some needed work done to the salon and prepare for the next 50 years," she expressed.

Of course, the accident didn’t slow Ford down for long. While the remodel that followed took some time, she was actually back in business the same day of the accident, after cleanup and makeshift repairs had been completed.

After all, a little adversity isn’t about to slow somebody down who has been practicing their profession with so much enthusiasm and dedication for 50 years."

This article was first published on westsideconnect.com.