Days after closing, beauty salon owner reflects on three-decade career in Hyde Park | News

Robert Hundley

Right after 30 yrs in organization together 55th Avenue, Divine Creators Natural beauty Salon closed its doorways on Dec. 31. 

Operator Paula C. Johnson claims the final decision came simply because of the arthritis she’s been going through in her fingers and knees.

“I was going to continue to be another 4 years since we had new administration, Mac Homes, so I experienced a four-12 months lease, but I decided I didn’t want to stay and the arthritis was finding form of major,” she mentioned. 

Johnson recalls getting an employee at the storefront, 1637 E. 55th St., again in 1987 when it was named Stylist Elegance Salon. Johnson took over the salon in 1991 from then-owner Vera Wilkinson, who experienced herself been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

“The place was incredibly significant to me and Hyde Park has normally been a local community setting where the people assist the group. They supported the organizations and, you know, they just needed smaller firms to make it,” mentioned Johnson.

She states 1 point she will pass up most about working in the store is the people who would stop and wave in entrance of the window and, of system, her clientele. 

Soon after Wilkinson gave ownership to Johnson, she states that she grew to become the first Black particular person to individual a business concerning Cornell and Hyde Park Boulevard.

Johnson states that she has been blessed to have been the only hair salon on that block for all those people yrs, stating that somebody had tried using to open up yet another salon across the avenue but was blocked by the town because of to zoning constraints. 

Increasing up in the south suburban city of Robbins, Illinois, Johnson reported that she acquired a tradition shock when she moved to Chicago in 1966 as a 13-12 months-outdated. “When I arrived to the metropolis, folks have been so cold,” she reported. 






Paula Johnson with a purchaser all through a Halloween party. 




She started with an fascination in modeling, but immediately switched cosmetology, indicating that she failed to feel she was a very good plenty of actress for the to start with route. 

Johnson recalls that, as young older people, many of her good friends had been being laid off from their careers. She explained to herself that she desired a job that no a person could hearth her from, sparking the wish to grow to be her own boss. She remembered something her grandfather explained to her: “Your own company is greater than the ideal job in the environment.”

She started attractiveness school in 1977, and manufactured her way up in the marketplace, doing work in natural beauty salons all over the South Facet and locating her way to Hyde Park in the early 80s, shortly relocating into the community.

Being at the locale for a small above 3 many years, Johnson says she has viewed several alterations above the years — one staying the large spike in hire at the store.

“I believe when I obtained in it was like $900 a thirty day period. And now it can be $1900 a thirty day period,” she stated, noting that rents have been likely up 30% each individual calendar year not too long ago.

Contrary to a lot of other corporations who ended up impacted negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson says that Divine Creators did not have difficulties during the time, observing it far more as a time of rest.

“I’ve never been off get the job done ten and a half weeks, so I got a possibility to beautify and spend time in the salon. So it wasn’t a large aspect,” she claimed.

The most challenging matter about her selection to go away is indicating goodbye to loyal shoppers of 30-40 yrs, claims Johnson, mentioning that she experienced a difficult time inserting them with other stylists in an atmosphere that they find cozy as effectively as offering excellent.

Johnson claims that she will also skip the picnics she would host in Harold Washington Park each 12 months to demonstrate appreciation to her consumers and for the local community as a whole.

“I would source all the sides and they could carry their individual meat, and I have folks to cook it for them. And I had individuals, different businesses, donate various things that I would use for prizes. We performed all types of outdated-fashioned games. And I also fed the homeless, you know, any person who wished some food items they had been capable to try to eat.”

Johnson says that she is most looking forward to investing far more time with her son, now that she is done working — one thing that she regrets not doing previously in lifetime. 

“I just despise that I didn’t get a possibility to spend additional time with him, I did not consider the time (and) devote much more time with him, my shoppers ended up the priority,” mentioned Johnson, “I’m on the lookout ahead to shelling out time with him. I necessarily mean, he is 48 now, I’m 68. And I am on the lookout forward to paying some high quality time with him.”

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