Elaine Pruitt knows hair.
And well she should. Over the last four decades, Pruitt and the beauticians at Shear Creations have worked to make sure that the people of Cumming, and their hair, have always looked great.
Last week, Shear Creations celebrated 40 years of business in Forsyth County, making it one of the oldest salons in the area.
Pruitt says that those years have been full of good customers, dedicated staff and lots and lots of hair.
"We've just been blessed," Pruitt said. "Cumming's been good to us, they've supported us.”
After all these years, she says that she still fondly remembers opening up the salon with a fellow beautician, Arlene Stewart, after attending the Roswell Beauty College together in 1978.
Pruitt said that in the late ‘70s, she and Stewart were working at different jobs in Free Home and decided to start taking night classes at the beauty college. Eventually the women quit their day jobs and began focusing solely on doing hair.
"I really don't know," she mused when asked about why she chose to become a beautician. "Both of us had always done hair for families ... we just did and we wanted to start, I don't know why."
In 1979, the two newly-graduated beauticians opened up their own small two-chair beauty shop in a building on Castleberry Road, naming the new salon, Shear Creations.
Since then, the shop has moved several times from locations on Hwy. 9 and Pilgrim Mill Road, to where the shop currently sits, tucked in-between Canton Highway and Tribble Gap Road on Mountain View Drive in Cumming.
But through all those moves and the intervening years, Pruitt says that their mission of providing quality, friendly service to the community hasn’t changed, even as the county and their competition has grown.
"Evidently we've done good work or we wouldn't have been here this long," Pruitt said. "Everybody knows everybody else … Most places are like an in-and-out thing, but we have people who have standing appointments every week with us for years.”
On Thursday afternoon, Pruitt and her staff had their hands full with a packed house of ladies and gentlemen getting cuts, colorings and new “do’s.”
One client, Ann Gravitt, said that she’s been coming to the salon for over 10 years because she loves the staff and the friendly atmosphere.
"They are very special," she said. "I like to come here because they treat me nice, and I get a good hairdo and I appreciate good work.”
Like Gravitt, Pruitt said that many of their clients have been coming to the salon for decades.
"I've got three that still come to me, that came to the beauty college 40 years ago," she said. "It's amazing, ain't it?"
The secret, she said, is going beyond just running a business and forming lasting relationships with their clients.
"Not only do we do hair well, I think we're good people people," she said. "It's more like a family I guess."