Tucked in Huntington is a hair salon that embodies “Steel Magnolias” with a retro twist.
Directly across from the turquoise-painted front door of The Parlor is a wall emblazoned with bold stripes of shimmery red and white; hanging in front of it is a turquoise chandelier. The floor is covered in black-and-white checkered tile; red and turquoise furniture and baubles are sprinkled throughout the little building. Adorning the walls are Andy Warhol-style pop art, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and Rosie the Riveter posters, and, in co-owner Carrie Ricks’ station, framed quotes from a certain 1989 movie about a group of women who bond over a beauty salon in small-town Louisiana.
“I’ve always loved anything retro, anything pinup. I guess I had a past life,” Carrie said. “I just wanted something that was a reflection of my style. And I wanted somewhere, too, that you could walk in and feel happy to be there.”
Carrie had been working at the salon since 2001 under the direction of Julie Parker, and she took the reins in 2015 after Parker decided to retire. Since then, Carrie changed the salon’s name, updated its interior and assembled a dream team of beauticians: hair stylists Jennifer Lynn Ricks, Kayla Vines, Breann Cryer and Erin Sprinkle, and nail technician CJ Johnson.
Carrie, a longtime Huntington resident, said she’d never considered any career but doing hair. She earned a cosmetology license through a program at Huntington High School that allows students to study cosmetology for half the day. For a little while, she worked at Mane Attraction in Lufkin, and in 2001 she began working at Julie Parker’s salon, then called Julie’s Quick Cuts.
She credited both Guesna Dixon, owner of Mane Attraction, and Parker with teaching her about hair and life.
“I learned everything from Julie Parker, from how to run a business to how to chicken-fry a steak,” Carrie said.
Now the salon has more employees than any other in town, and it’s currently home to Huntington’s only nail technician.
In addition to cuts, color and perms, the salon offers spray tans, manicures, pedicures, facial waxing and makeup services. Breann and Erin, who are both freelance makeup artists, do wedding and prom makeup as well as prom packages. Carrie is a certified Pravana colorist who specializes in hair color and women’s cuts; Jennifer specializes in Brazilian blowouts, haircuts, balayage and styling; Kayla’s favorite technique is balayage, and she enjoys doing spray tans.
The employees consider themselves a motley crew of women who come together for great results.
“We’re very ‘client first,’” Kayla said. “We want everyone to leave here and be happy and not ever think about going anywhere else.”
There was a time when Carrie faced the frustrations typical to a new business owner, but by the time the current lineup of employees was in place, “it was like all of the puzzle pieces came together,” she said. “Now it’s turned into something that I really look forward to coming to every day.”
“I love how we’re all so different, yet we’re all best friends,” Erin said. “We’re so cohesive and we can come together and enjoy the same things.”
The sense of family among the women is palpable as they banter, often finishing each other’s sentences.
Erin, who takes classes at Angelina College to eventually become a teacher, told her colleagues about her secret dream job: “Y’all might think I’m crazy, but I really want to be a psychological examiner for the FBI one day. Like ‘Criminal Minds’ — that’s my jam.”
“You’ll be the prettiest one doing it,” Carrie said as CJ laughed.
The women agreed that it’s hard to stay upset when they walk into the salon.
“Whatever’s going on in our home life, we can come in, have our spill, and then get to work and have the best day ever,” Breann said. “It’s a homey place for all of us, and everybody that comes here, they always say that it’s really homey and cozy and they feel like they can let loose every time they come here. It’s a really good feeling knowing that your clients can come here and —”
“Not feel like they have to look their best coming through the door,” CJ said.
“Because they’re going to be looking good when they leave,” Breann finished.
That’s the goal, Carrie said: to make her clients feel at home and feel pretty when they leave.
“Maybe the world won’t take you for what you are and love you, but everybody here will take you for what you are and love you for exactly that,” Erin said. “It’s just really nice to have a place like this in a very small town like Huntington.”
The Parlor, at 181 E. Pine St., is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and by appointment only on Monday and Saturday.
Pricing varies by employee; call 876-3673 for more information.
Find the women of The Parlor on social media:
• Breann Cryer, Facebook and @breannmcryer on Instagram
• CJ Johnson, Facebook
• Jennifer Lynn Ricks, Facebook
• Erin Sprinkle, Facebook and @hollywood_erinsprinkle on Instagram
• Kayla Vines, k.renaev7 on Instagram