By Lindsay Carey
Southington hairdresser Rosemary Champagne celebrated 50 years in her profession with family, close friends and clients at her salon, Hair Expo, on Friday, Sept. 26.
“It feels wonderful,” said Champagne.
The salon was crowded with guests in almost every chair eating and sharing stories of their local hairdresser. Collages of old photos were up on the walls of the Hair Expo, where Champagne has conducted business for 38 years.
Champagne’s life changing diagnosis of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1985 changed her life completely. Not only did she survive and author “My Detour on Life’s Highway,” she began to use her cosmetology skills to help other women with illnesses.
She has used her skills through the American Red Cross’s “Look Good Feel Good” program to show women with cancer how to wear wigs, turbans and do their makeup to help them feel beautiful despite their hair loss.
She has also volunteered to help battered women at the Waterbury Women’s Shelter.
“I’ve been an educator, a trophy winner, I’ve been active in the union and done a lot of platform work, said Champagne. “There’s not much I haven’t done.”
In 2000, Champagne hit a career high when she won the prestigious National Cosmetologists Association Charles Award. She accepted the award in St. Louis, MO. She credits her success and the longevity of her career on her ability to apply her skills to various platforms. She has managed to find new ways to do her job and help people throughout her career.
“That’s what keeps you interested,” said Champagne. “I’ve been exploring every avenue, instead of just sitting behind the chair.”
Champagne is also known in Southington for her work with Relay for Life to raise money for cancer.
Many of the guests of the party were her clients who said they came to show their support for Champagne and her salon.
“There’s just this feeling of friendliness and acceptance,” said Ruth Trivelli, from Cheshire, of the Hair Expo.
Trivelli has been Champagne’s client for over 20 years.
A Southington woman also said she enjoys socializing with Champagne at the Hair Expo.
“I talk to Rosemary all the time when I’m getting my hair done, we discuss our soaps,” said Emily Moreau.
Another Southington woman Alice Bogue said that Champagne has done her hair for 14 years and that the Hair Expo feels like home.
She said she came to the celebration, because she’s proud that Champagne has been in the business for so long.
“I just wanted to congratulate her, because she’s so precious to me,” said Bogue. “It’s so nice to see someone in a job for 50 years; a lot of people don’t make it –especially with everything she’s been through with her health.”
By Lindsay Carey