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When Roots Salon went up in flames two weeks ago, caught amidst a blaze that swallowed whole a building in Falconer, all owner Stacy Houser could see was tragedy. The building, which had been located on 29-39 W. Main St., was lost. With it went several residences and businesses, including Houser’s, vanishing into brown furls of smoke that rose angrily against a blue sky.
But from these ashes came a new beginning. Kyla Rodriguez, owner of Forbici Hair Design in Jamestown, heard about the fire and quickly opened her doors to the women of Roots Salon. She invited the displaced stylists to work from her own facility, to bring in their clients, and to use her chairs and equipment until they could get back on their feet.
“When I first heard of the fire, saw the pictures and videos, it hit very close to home,” Rodriguez said. “I thought, what would we do? This is our everything; this is our livelihood. I knew then that I wanted to make sure they were going to be okay and that they had a place to go.”
Within a matter of days, Forbici had been able to accommodate three of Roots’s five stylists, while the remaining women found temporary work at other local salons. Although Forbici and Roots have different hair and beauty offerings – Forbici provides full salon and spa services, while Roots offers only traditional salon services – Rodriguez says running two businesses under one roof has been a seamless transition.
“It’s been a big group effort,” she said. “I can’t take all of the credit. The girls and the clients are so warm and welcoming and willing to help, so it’s been easy. The [Roots styilsts] are definitely able to do their own thing here.”
Houser agrees: she said that within days of moving into Forbici, she and the other stylists had their own chairs, full use of the equipment, and were able to book their clients like normal. And while Houser may be busy keeping her business running out of Forbici, she says that plans to relocate and rebuild the Roots Salon are already in motion.
“At first I thought we might be able to salvage it,” she said of her salon. “But as the day progressed, the fire just kept spreading. Once they had to hose the building down, I knew. It had just burned for so many hours, and I found out there was water damage, smoke damage, that the roof in the back had collapsed… We are moving forward now with a plan to relocate. Hopefully by July 1 we’ll be moving into the location of the current [Falconer Vacuum Shoppe].”
Rodriguez, whose business has been open two years longer than Houser’s – Forbici opened at the end of 2010, whereas Roots opened at the beginning of 2013 – said she sympathizes with the struggle of building a business from the ground up, especially as a woman. That is exactly why she wanted to help the women of Roots Salon, and that is why she thinks it’s crucial for locally-owned businesses to view each other as community support, not competition.
“I wanted to help them because the odds were against me when I opened, and I know how hard it is to get the ground running underneath you,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve seen what [Forbici] was able to do here in such a short period of time, and I saw what [Roots] was starting to build – we all made bonds and relationships and community ties. She wants to rebuild, and I hope that she can, bigger and better than before.”
While Houser may be looking to the future, in the throes of rebuilding her business from scratch, she is not leaving the past behind her. In the wake of tragedy, she said that she is stunned by the generosity that has been shown to her. Houser grew emotional when recounting the support received from Forbici, her neighbors, her clientele, and her community.
“Support is important in times like this,” she said. “Everyone has been so, so kind, and so helpful. Everyone is expressing their sympathy, and my clients are being very flexible with this. But, you know, they will be excited for me to get home to Falconer.”
For more information on Forbici Hair Design or Roots Salon, visit their respective pages on Facebook. To book an appointment with stylists from either salon, call Forbici directly at 716-483-2758.
To read more articles featuring local businesses around the area, please visit www. jamestowngazette.com.