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Fred James isn’t one to shy away from a business opportunity. Although many men his age – 65 – would be satisfied with the work they had accomplished in their lifetime and head for the local golf course or fishing hole, James is stepping up his game.
Last month, he expanded the HQ & Company Hair Salon at 107 S. Russell St. in Marion into a spa. In addition to cutting hair, James’s staff also performs massage therapy, manicures, pedicures, facials, skin care and waxing.
“For 30 years, I worked mainly out of my home and in small salons cutting hair,” said James, a native of Carmi. “And then in 1995, I decided to go to New York to pursue my dream of being an opera singer.”
James graduated from SIUC in 1974 with a degree in the performing arts with opera singing his specialty, so his dream wasn’t that far-fetched.
“I wanted to give it one final try before I got too old,” he said. “But to be successful in New York, it takes a lot of talent and drive, which is something I guess I didn’t have enough of. Still, it was a wonderful experience, and I’m glad I did it.”
Returning to Marion in 1999, James resumed his hair-styling career. By 2003, he was ready to build his own salon.
“I just wanted to see how far I could take this, and so far, it’s worked out pretty well,” James said. “The salon’s been a great success and I’ve been able to add staff along the way.”
What started out as just a one-man operation has developed into a full-fledged business. James now employs 10 hairdressers, three massage therapists and two additional staffers.
Rita Williams serves as office manager. She said the business is open from 8 to 8 Tuesday and Thursday; from 8 to 6 on Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 to 4 on Saturday. The shop is closed Sunday and Monday.
“Fred had a dream, a vision if you will, and he has followed it,” Williams said. “Most people his age are looking to retire, but not Fred. He enjoys doing what he’s doing.”
Williams said that as the word has spread about the day spa, more potential clients have been calling to inquire about services.
“We’ve been pretty busy,” she said. “And I think we’re going to be even more busy soon. A lot of folks have been coming in and buying gift certificates for Christmas.”
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