BELOIT — Parkway Hair Fashions is buzzing with excitement this week as it celebrates the retirement of stylist Jan Trezek, a 46-year Parkway veteran, and loyal Parkway stylist Pam Olson who is retiring after 14 years.
Other longtime and talented employees such as Connie Kitelinger will continue her 41-year career.
Parkway will be having a party for the stylists Thursday after 10:30 a.m. when clients and former staff are invited to stop in and wish them well.
Parkway Hair Fashions has been a fixture in the community since the late 1970s when owner Kathy Hammerand started it in a location across the street. It later moved to its current location at 1260 Huebbe Parkway. Over the years the site had a boutique next door and accompanying fashion shows in the space. The business had up to 22 stylists and endless memories as people gathered there for their special occasion updos as well as trims and curl sets.
Trezek, who is ambidextrous and who first fell in love with styling her dolls’ hair, graduated from beauty school in 1975, and was invited to work at the business by Hammerand.
When Trezek came on board, she, Hammerand and other staff would travel to hair shows from New York to Las Vegas to learn the latest trends. When at home at Parkway, staff would often don matching outfits to correspond with the fashions of the time. Some of their outfits ranged from overalls to T-shirts and pajamas.
There was never a dull moment as Parkway was home to all things hair as well as fashion shows where staff would strut their stuff. Parkway would play host to benefit events where staff would sing, dance or act out theater scenes. Trezek fondly remembered playing “nerd girl” with the Saderfest Crystals to raise money for Beloit Catholic High School.
“You get a costume on me, you never know what I’m going to do,” Trezek said.
Then there were the Christmas parties.
“Remember that ‘Whodunnit’ and I was the guilty one,” Olson said.
Over the years styles evolved, from the pin curls and finger waves to ratted puffy hair and the shag, and eventually the wedge and Farrah Fawcett-inspired ‘do’s.
Clients became friends as their children and then grandchildren came to Parkway.
As many stylists moved on or started their own businesses, some Parkway loyalists stuck around such as Trezek.
“This was like my family here,” Trezek said.
Trezek said Parkway was a place where talents were allowed to shine and the schedule was accommodating to those with families.
Olson arrived 14 years ago after working at various other salons and was ready to settle in at Parkway.
Hammerand said Olson brought a sincere, knowledgeable and respectful approach to styling her clients.
“She was someone you could always count on. She always sees the good in people and is always willing to help clients. Most of all she shares great stories about her cats,” Hammerand said.
With its longevity in the community, Parkway was sometimes considered a nostalgic site and occasionally viewed as an “older” salon as it catered to a crowd who appreciated weekly shampoos, rollers sets and a chance to sit under the hair drying machines. Many of those getting the weekly ritual are age 80 and up.
“You won’t believe how many 90-year-olds look like 80-years-olds after coming here,” Hammerand added.
To keep current, young stylists were brought into the fold as the longtime clients kept close to their longtime stylists.
“We are their confidantes and we keep their trust,” Olson said.
The stylists’ care didn’t go unnoticed.
Client Marilyn Delaney explained: “You look at yourself before you leave and you think ‘Oh lord, she’s got her work cut out for her today.’”
However, after going in feeling a bit drab, clients leave happy.
“It’s those ladies that do your hair. They make your day and make you feel better to walk out the door,” Delaney said. “You go in with the doldrums and you certainly come out with a smile and happiness. You know people will notice.”