Sunday, July 29 was an afternoon to remember - Katey's Beauty Salon celebrated 14 years in business, and over 150 guests joined in the celebration. It all started on May 2nd, 1998, when Katy Townsend received a telephone call letting her know that Iveal Washington was selling her salon. She made an appointment to see the salon the next day. When Townsend and her former teacher, Bessie Darden, walked into the salon, they knew immediately it would be a wonderful place to work. There was just one problem---Townsend didn't have the $10,000 she needed to buy the salon. But she did have a 1992 Volvo that she owned outright, so she was able to borrow $7,000 against the car and Ms. Washington kindly gave her three months to come up with the balance.
Katy then hired two stylists and a manicurist who paid $100 a month each to rent their stations. She also rented out the front area of the salon for $400 a month to a hat vendor. She didn't know that the rent should be $100 per week instead of $100 per month. All she was thinking about was paying the rent. After four years she raised the rent to $125 per week.
Ms. Townsend has had many stylists come through the salon over the years, and she has trained and mentored them, helping them establish careers of their own. Some have worked six months free from paying any booth rent so they could build up their clientele. In one case, she provided a station to a stylist free of charge so that she could afford health insurance.
Ms. Townsend has had as many as eight stylists in the past, and she currently has four stylists, a manicurist and an esthetician. To celebrate her 14 years in business, her son Tommy Gillespie remodeled the salon, making her long-time dream of upgrading the space a reality. Gillespie said that he was "bringing her out of the 70's."
Roscoe Owens' band, Jazz Zone, played throughout the event, providing excellent music, and guests danced the evening away. Several elected officials stopped by to wish Townsend congratulations and present her with certificates of recognition: Judy Chu, Member of Congress representing California's 32nd District; California State Senator Carol Liu; California State Assembly member of the 44th district, Anthony Portantino. Townsend was surprised to learn that Senator Liu had just returned from Hawaii and was honored that she took the time to stop by. Other well-wishers brought cards, flowers, gifts and a wonderful array of food to share. Guests ate, danced, and enjoyed themselves, but one thing that Katy enjoyed the most was the presence of her family which included her son Tommy Gillespie, and her daughters Brenda Gillespie and Vickie Gillespie, her sister Roseha Wallace, along with her grandchildren and great-grandson.
Another highlight of the evening was when Iveal Washington, the previous owner of the salon, came by to offer her congratulations. She said that she was very proud of the way the salon looked and was pleased that Townsend had done so much with the business. Townsend thanked everyone for their participation in her 14th year celebration, saying it was a day that she will always remember. She would like to thank Lena Kennedy for suggesting live music and Pamela Mims for getting the flyer together. In 1998, Townsend walked out in faith and to this day she has always put God first. Katey's Beauty Salon is located at 1711 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91104. Telephone: 626-296-2666.