Hair stylist brings it home to Augusta
Hair stylist Bethanie Brewer has had a penchant for the beautician’s craft virtually since she could hold a pair of scissors. As a little girl of 4, she would cut, braid and wash the hair of her barbie dolls, and when her grandfather would take an afternoon nap, she would braid the hair on his arms as he slept.
Brewer, who grew up in Augusta, followed the hair design path and the long road led her traveling to such nationally known events as Miami Swim Week and New York Fashion Week where she worked with teams -- alongside other hairdressers sharpening their talents. They also learned to do photo shoots of runway models. Paris Hilton was on the runway, representing the Berlin based clothing line Namila in New York. Among the celebrities in attendance were Serena Williams, Ryan Seacrest and Lady Gaga.
As much as she loved her hometown, Brewer hasn’t lived in Augusta in 34 years. Her eyes were set on the larger world, and after graduating from Augusta High School in 1987, she was off. She graduated from Vernon’s School of Cosmetology, worked a brief stint for a Turkish barber, then opened her own salon and has been an independent business owner ever since.
For the past 25 years, Brewer has owned and operated Bethanie Brewer Salon in Ft. Worth, Texas. Now she’s expanding. Remember that scene from the 1989 film, Steel Magnolias, where salon owner/hairdresser Truvy Jones, played by the down home Dolly Parton, opens a second salon and says, “I’m a chain”? Well, Brewer has opened a second salon.
“I want to bring the New York edge, the California Boho and the European elegance to them even if it is just for an hour of their day,” Brewer said.”Let there be an escape, to laugh and have fun. Beauty will be the end result.”
Brewer has purchased JP Salon, at 703 E. Belmont, from Joey Patterson, who has owned and operated the shop for the past 11 years. Patterson and fellow stylists Melia Bane and Adrienne Tanas will continue working in the salon.
Brewer, who currently has 700 clients, will divide her time between her Ft. Worth and Augusta salons.
COVID has presented challenges to Brewer and her business in the past two years. She had to close shop for a while. Ashley Dooley, a Ft. Worth, Texas client recalled how Brewer would send hair coloring supplies to clients, direct them to videos on hair coloring and take phone calls, walking her customers through the steps.
In a Facebook live message to her clients at the time, Brewer asked them to be gracious and patient with her.
"Know that I not only have your best hair care needs in mind,” she said in the video. “I also have your experience in mind so trust me with your hair. Trust me with this decision."
Brewer kept telling herself that strife comes before success in the dictionary. She spent days in her garden, thinking of ways to provide clients with care so they would look good in zoom meetings and working “essential” jobs.
“I am a huge believer in taking care of those who take care of you,” Brewer said.
Brewer now feels it is a good time to bring her business and salon style to her hometown. She has a lot of fans already.
Ashley Dooley, a Ft. Worth client, has been going to Brewer to have her hair done for around 10 years. Dooley said she loves the atmosphere in the salon.
“I feel like I can relax and breathe,” Dooley said. “We can talk about anything or we don’t have to talk. It’s very welcoming and warm. She’s very personable. She’s become like a friend. We laugh, we cry, we do hair, we talk about hair. I love it.”
The COVID pandemic has created hardships for Brewer. Brewer said she wants to give clients “the service that makes them feel glamorous,” that lets them feel comfortable when they sit in the chair and confident when they walk out the salon door.
“It’s definitely an art form for her,” Dooley said. “She’s very talented. She has a knack for what she does. She has a gift.”
Carrie Ankrom, a hairstylist out of Brush, Colorado, remembered being on a team with Brewer at the Interntional Hairdressing Awards in Madrid, Spain.
“It was a big situation to walk into,” Ankrom said. “It’s like the first day of school. You don’t know who your people are.”
Ankrom was on a team with Brewer and found their skills matched and she was easy to talk to. “She’s so bubbly,” Ankrom said. “Her personality is spot on. She’s just a good girl and I’m happy for her.”
Shannon Martinez grew up with Brewer in Augusta. While visiting home and friends in Kansas, she has cut and colored hair for Martinez and her daughter, Tanner, on three or four occasions.
“I always gave her free reign to do what she wanted (cut, color, style), and the result was amazing each time,” Martinez said. “Beth is fun, friendly, and fantastic, and I’m excited that she’s returning to Augusta.”
Brewer said, “I have always been proud of my hometown. I feel like it helped shape me into who I am, but I wanted to move away, see the world, grow and be pushed outside of my comfort zone.
I think I had something to prove, mainly to myself. I was able to find my true self, and learned to stop caring what others may think. I used to think my hometown was too tiny to spend a life in. Now, when I come back it grounds me. Things move a little slower, people stop and chat. It is nice.”
It’s a long way from 1987 ... and then it’s not. Like a lightning flame from a DeLorean, Brewer is back. She has been in hairstyling from the mullet-big haired, bright colored ‘80s through the grunge ‘90s toward mauve, “green grass” and platinum silver hair coloration and onward. She’s seen it all go away and come back.
“Every style comes back around just like clothing but with a little difference,” she said.”Shags, mullets, bangs no bangs, it just keeps cycling right on around again.”
Brewer hopes to give her clients a glimpse into a world they may never get a chance to see. She wants them to leave her salon with the glamour and self-confidence to “go big in life.”
“Beauty will be the result,” she said.