Meet Leeds hair salon owner celebrating 50 years in business

29 March 2018.... Doreen Simpson celebrates 50 years of her hairdressing business in Hunslet, Leeds. Picture Scott Merrylees
29 March 2018.... Doreen Simpson celebrates 50 years of her hairdressing business in Hunslet, Leeds. Picture Scott Merrylees
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She has highlights aplenty after five decades in business.

Opening its doors on April 1, 1968, the longevity of Doreen Simpson Hairstyles proves it was far from just a blitz in the dryer.

Owner Mrs Simpson, 73, has now been weaving, drying and skilfully scissoring her customers’s hair for a remarkable 50 years at the same premises in Hunslet.

“I worked for somebody else at the time and my mum came up to me and said: ‘This hairdressers is up for sale’,” she told the YEP.

“My husband said: ‘Why not do it for yourself? Take a chance, give it five years and see how it goes’.

“And 50 years later, I’m still going.”

The Moor Road salon’s opening also coincided with Mrs Simpon’s first wedding anniversary to her husband, Colin.

The couple had been saving to put a deposit down for a home together when the salon came up for sale, and instead used that money to purchase the business.

Colin, 70, sadly died after a battle with cancer in 2009.

“When he was ill, I said I would give it up. But he didn’t want me to,” she said.

“The salon helped me a great deal when I lost him. ]

“It has kept me going ever since he died. It’s been a pleasure to work there over the years.

“I have had some nice staff and lovely customers.”

While styles may have changed - along with the scenery in Leeds over the last 50 years - Mrs Simpson has continued to serve her loyal customers. She is joined at the salon by her sister, Carol Reed, now 64, who works part-time.

“Carol came in as a Saturday girl and didn’t like it at all,” she said.

“She wasn’t interested and didn’t want to come into hairdressing.

“Then two of the girls that worked for me both fell pregnant, and I was desperate.

“Carol said she would have a go - and she has been with me ever since.”

Popular hairstyles that she specialised in for customers in the early years ranged from the timeless perm to the 60s-favourite, the beehive.

“I’m old for a hairdresser and a lot of my customers are elderly now,” she said.

“In the 60s, people would have their hair done every week - now people go when they want it cutting and colouring. Mostly now it’s blow dries but we still have some customers who have their hair set in rollers.

“I enjoy the company of the customers, I like to see the finished effort.

“That’s my favourite part - when people are happy with it.

“Especially if they can’t really do their own hair and they came in with it in a bit of a state, but go out looking nice.”