When Candace Lyons first opened her salon in downtown State College, she didn’t realize how popular it would become. In State College, located in the middle of Pennsylvania, there aren’t a lot of places for black women to get their hair done. Many students, like Lyons in the 1980’s, would resort to giving themselves their own chemical processes or trusting another student on campus.
After graduating from college, Lyons worked in corporate America for almost ten years, while doing hair on the side. One day, she decided that she no longer wanted to continue working in a cubicle, quit her job, and went to beauty school.
In 2009, Lyons was forced to shut down her shop when she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. She took almost five years off before re-opening her shop in March of 2014. Two businesses had been opened in the location of her old shop in the past 5 years, but when she felt well enough, she saw her old space was for rent. “It was a sign from God that I was ready to do it again,” said Lyons.
But she knew that things would be difficult. Because her salon is located in a college town, most of her clientele leaves after 4 years. She began advertising around campus and handing out business cards to students. She hopes that she can bring in new clients with her warm personality, positive outlook on life, and unrivaled hair knowledge. Lyons said that getting back into doing hair has been therapeutic for her and has helped her to regain her normal routine.
By not only styling their clients hair, but by educating them about caring for their hair, Lyons hopes to give her clients (who are mostly students) the tools they need to take care of their own hair in between visits. For many women, hair is a very large part of their identity and Lyons says she wants to do all she can to make sure each woman can leave her salon feeling confident and ready to take on the world.