Elsabes Hair Salon owner Elsabe Johnston with client Fay Staggs  at the business's location in the Alstonville Plaza.
Elsabes Hair Salon owner Elsabe Johnston with client Fay Staggs at the business's location in the Alstonville Plaza. Marc Stapelberg

Alstonville's 'Perm Queen' hands over keys after 37 years

ELSABE Johnston, who is secretly known as the "Queen of Perms" at some local salons, is set to hang up her crown at the end of the week.

After 37 years, five weeks and three days, Elsabe's Hair Salon in the Alstonville Plaza will change hands as Elsabe finishes her last perm and hands over the keys on her beloved business.

Taking the business over in 1982, Elsabe acknowledged the help of friends and family in maintaining the longevity of the business.

Elsabe has watched how fashions and technology have come and gone.

"Perms did go out of fashion," she said.

"I believe that the perms are coming back in, and so the young ones should start learning how to do perms again.

"There are a lot of young apprentices that don't do perms."

She added that she had been blessed with hard working, family orientated apprentices who had all contributed to ensuring clients were happy with the result.

Elsabe said the technology had changed over the years but, scissors, combs and a sense of flair would always be fundamental to the fine art of cutting hair.

"While it continues to change, it still remains a lot the same," she said.

"What happened in the year dot comes around again, but they have just given a different name to it or a different tweak, so a lot of things are still very similar."

Elsabe watched as her clients had grown up to have families of their own and enjoyed being part of their triumphs, successes and journeys.

She said it was the deep connection with people's stories that kept her motivated over all these years.

"I did my apprenticeship in Lismore when Betty Jane Salon was going at that stage in Woodlark Street and I had a client who I worked with during my apprenticeship and she still comes to me now," she said.

"I think with each of the clientele you have a personal connection.

"They tend to tell you a lot about their families.

"I tell them about my family as well and you sort of just have that repartee with them.

"I am grateful to all the people who have come through my door. I have been very lucky over that 37 years.

"I have had a great clientele and thank you to everybody."

Fran Dawson, formerly of Kaos Hair in Ballina Fair, is taking over the business. She has known Elsabe for twenty years and cannot speak highly enough of the legacy Elsabe has created.

"Just the way the clients love her, the way she loves the clients, the way she does the trade, and just being a woman back in the 80s doing what she did for that many years," she said.

Fran said customers could look forward to extended business hours with full hairdressing services now being available seven days a week.