By Ivan Pereira
For the last 40 years, the Bayside hair salon and spa Christie and Company at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center has helped not only to beautify women but also to give rise to future hairstylists.
In celebration of this milestone, the store’s owner, Lois Christie, will be offering 40 women a chance to tell their story on what makes them beautiful on the inside and out. The festivities kicked off Friday at the salon, which has been at the shopping center since 1982, where Christie and her staff of 90 employees gave discounted makeovers.
The owner, who still works as a hair colorist, said she had no idea back when she started that she would make it to four decades, but knew her determination would take her far.
“Hair color has always been my passion,” the Flushing native said.
The “Fabulous 40” promotion will include women of all ages to tell what makes them beautiful and how they have achieved their personal goals on a website, fabulousfortyyears.com. The chosen will not only receive their own free makeover, but also have their story featured on the website.
One of the stories already on the site is that of Dr. Ellen Baker, a Bayside High School graduate and the daughter of former Borough President Claire Shulman, who went on to become an astronaut for NASA.
Christie, a Flushing native and Francis Lewis High School alumna, said she was always motivated by women who followed their dreams.
After working at some salons across the city, Christie decided to go out on her own and with a $1,500 loan from her uncle opened her salon in 1970 on Bell Boulevard. The salon was an instant success and kept attracting customers from all over the borough and city.
Christie said the secret was being in tune with the popular hair designs of the time.
“You have to be three or five years ahead of the trend,” she said.
Business was booming so much that Christine and Company moved to its 15,000-square-foot space at Bay Terrace, where it has been a staple of the shopping mall. The space features dozens of vanity spaces, spa beds and other amenities for its faithful customers.
Lydia Sarfati, a skin care expert who created the four-layer facial and has known Christie since she started out in the business, said the owner has gone far and beyond to reach the top.
“You grow a business slowly,” she said.
Christie, however, does not take all the credit for her business’ success. Her staff gets extensive training on the premises and treats each of their customers with specialized care.
The owner got teary-eyed as she remarked how she has seen dozens of her staff move up through the ranks and go out and start their own salons from her training.
“It’s great to hear about young employees become more and more successful,” she said.
Christie said she knows that the next 40 years will be even more successful because of the loyalty of her customers and the friendliness of the neighborhood.
“When you do a business in this community, they become your family,” she said.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.