After three decades of cutting hair, business owner is retiring
Since 1975 House of Beauty has been a staple in East Carbon, cutting, trimming and styling the hair of many residents in the community. But after 35 years in business, Darlene Kuhns is ready to step aside and leap into a new life adventure: retirement.
Kuhns has owned and operated House of Beauty in East Carbon since it first opened in a building previously used by Utah Power and Light, now known as Rocky Mountain Power. Originally from Rock Springs, Wyo., Kuhns has been living in East Carbon since 1951. The size of the city and the people living in it made for many fun times and memories growing up.
"It was a neat little town to be raised in," Kuhns said of East Carbon. Kuhns and her friends used to spend many days of their days riding sleighs, riding horses and spending hours with each other late into the night. "It was just a good community to grow up in."
With all of the coal mines located near the city, Kuhns said that the town was doing well when the mines were successful, and struggling when the mines closed.
"Lots of mines were open at that time," Kuhns said. "If the mines were open, we were flourishing. If they closed down, then things were not as good."
While her husband Gary worked as a coal miner, Kuhns expected to spend her time as homemaker and taking care of the couple's two children, Gary and Jeff. But in the best interest of the family she went out and got her business license to run a hair salon, giving the family another source of income in case any of the mines shut down.
Growing up as a child she was raised in a beauty shop learning and watching her mother, Mary Alice Collins, who worked as a cosmetologist in Wyoming.
On May 15, 1975, Kuhns opened the doors of the business she named House of Beauty in East Carbon. Kuhns remembers it being an exciting time as she ordered uniforms for the employees and purchased all of the equipment needed for the business to get started. While never receiving any formal training through school, Kuhns learned the profession by apprenticing with her mother. While opening the business was exciting, she does freely admit about being scared as a young business owner.
"It has been a fantastic little business here in the community," Kuhns said. "When I first opened the salon I was young and scared, but I told myself that I could do this."
Kuhns said that during the course of her time in East Carbon, a handful of other hair salons and barbershops have come and gone over time. One of the possible reasons House of Beauty has survived for many years is because the business is located in the business district within the city and is not run out of a home, Kuhns said.
Over the years she has seen many residents in the community grow up right in front of her eyes, seeing them as young kids entering grade school to walking into the salon years later as a high school or college graduate. What helped make her job so enjoyable and special to be a part of was the connections she made over the years with families in the community, Kuhns said.
"A majority of my customers are like family to me," Kuhns said.
During her time working at House of Beauty, Kuhns also spent 12 years working on the East Carbon city council from 1992-1996 and 2001-2009. Among the duties she enjoyed most while serving on the council was working with the people in the community.
"I liked working with knowledge and being able to tell people the truth about things," Kuhns said. "I enjoyed working with the public a lot, including children and senior citizens."
As a council member she also remembers helping the city to continue redecorating the city with Christmas lights, helping remodel homes in the community for people in need and helping the East Carbon Fire Department to get equipment, ongoing training and more.
"It gave me real pride to help them out," Kuhns said of the East Carbon Fire Department.
But for as much as she has tried to give back to the community, Kuhns will be doing something for her family and most importantly, herself.
Friday will be her last day on the job working at House of Beauty before heading off to Jacksonville, Fla., sometime in September, where she will retire. The start of her new life won't be without familiar faces as she will be living with her mother, Mary, and will be near her two sons and her grandchildren.
Over the last 10 years she has been vacationing in Florida and thinks it is exactly the place she will enjoy living in her retirement. The environment in Florida will be more healthy to her and her mother Mary for health reasons, Kuhns said, which includes being lower in elevation and warmer weather.
"It's been a plan in the making for the last five years," Kuhns said.
A few years ago Kuhns went to the doctor and they later found she had something in her lung in the shape of a fried egg, she said. Doctors performed a biopsy and they took out the growth. During her surgery doctors had to remove a part of her right lung. After the surgery Kuhns was stuck at home for two months, which was the longest time she spent away from the business.
"It was really hard to come back to work actually," Kuhns said.
But before she wanted to leave for Florida, Kuhns wanted to make sure the hair salon would continue on in some form or another. And it will.
Lindsay Grundy, a longtime East Carbon resident, will be taking over the salon from Kuhns and received her business license from East Carbon City at the city council meeting on Tuesday night. She plans to rename the business as Salon 127.
"My dream was to see it stay as a beauty salon after I leave," Kuhns said. "Lindsay reminds me of what I was like at that age starting a business."
Kuhns has known Grundy her whole life and is hoping that the business will continue on for many years to come.
"I think Lindsay will be awesome working here. I know she is a little scared right now but she is very excited and I know that is what it takes to succeed," Kuhns said.
Since June, Kuhns has been prepping for the move to Florida. During that time she found Grundy to come in and take over the business, she sold her home and has been preparing herself to say goodbye to many close friends in the community.
Kuhns was very surprised at the reactions of some of her clients, including men who get their hair cut by her.
"It's very heartwarming to see the reactions of people in the community," Kuhns said.
While she is ready to start the next stage of her life, Kuhns will always remember the many friendships and fun memories during her time in East Carbon.
"I'm leaving with great sadness from East Carbon, but I feel there is a lot waiting for me when I get to Florida," Kuhns said. "I will miss the closeness and warmth of the community and friendships with many of my friends."