By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Sharon’s Beauty Salon in Winsted, owned by Sharon Hecksel, was an exciting place to be the day of the summer festival coronation, Aug. 9.
Although the salon is usually not open Sunday, for the last 15 years it has become an annual event for Winsted royalty and candidates to meet at the beauty shop the morning of coronation to get their hair styled for free, courtesy of the salon.
The first to arrive this year were Winsted Ambassadors Julia Fleischacker and Lena Guggemos. Both knew exactly how they wanted their hair done.
They had been watching Audrey Hepburn movies and wanted their hair in a French Twist.
Hecksel didn’t need a picture to know what the style looked like. It was called the french roll in the ‘70s and was popular when Hecksel first began her career as a beautician.
“The styles have repeated themselves,” Hecksel said. “In the early ‘70s, everything was up, like the french roll. The beehive that was the biggest thing back then.”
Arriving with her long hair down, Fleischacker sat patiently while her hair was teased, curled, and sprayed in place, with a touch of glitter added, and, of course, the crowning moment when the ambassador tiara was placed on her head.
The years of experience Hecksel has had in hairstyling made the job look simple.
This year there were six girls who had their hair styled, two Winsted Ambassadors and four royalty candidates.
But there have been years when Sharon’s has had as many as 12 girls at one time needing to have their hair styled on coronation morning.
Some of the girls brought a photo of a favorite hairdo asking if the hairdressers could make their hair look like the picture.
While some of the young ladies took their turn getting their hair done, others had the complimentary breakfast provided by the royalty committee, and still others were practicing the proper wave for the afternoon parade.
When all was said and done, all of the girls left Sharon’s that morning ready for the afternoon coronation with perfect coiffures.
It was 40 years ago when Hecksel received her hairdressing license. She remembers the date because it came in the mail the same day she married Eldron Hecksel, April 19, 1969.
Becoming a beautician was Sharon’s career choice because she had been doing the hair of many of the local people and decided she might as well get paid for it.
“I always liked to do hair. I don’t ever get tired of it,” Hecksel said. “I get physically tired, but not bored. It isn’t a boring business.”
“You are always learning new things and meeting new people every day,” Hecksel said. “And talk. I am all talked out by the end of the day.”
Her first hairdressing job was at a salon in Montrose where she worked for a short time. Then, she moved to Hutchinson for a year, working at Marlin’s.
Eventually, she moved to a salon in Winsted called the Cut and Curl, where she worked for six years until she opened her own salon in the Hecksels’ home on Third Street in 1976.
In 1978, she moved her business from her home to Winsted’s downtown main street where she has had her salon in several different buildings before she finally settled in to her current location at 135 1st St. N. in 2000.
Eldron and Sharon have four sons, Jeff, Brian, Neil, and Jason, and when they were too young to go to school, Hecksel would take them to day care while she worked four days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and a half day Saturday.
“When I started, haircuts were $3 and shampoo sets were $3.50. You could work all morning on an updo for $5,” Hecksel said. “That was back when you used rollers to curl the hair and put the customer under the dryer and then had to comb them out.”
To keep up-to-date with hair styles and products, Sharon has attended different shows twice a year, sometimes more, to learn new cuts and styles as well as new products.
She also keeps up with styles and techniques by consulting with the other hairstylists in her shop who are younger than herself.
Some hairstyles have remained the same over the years; just the name changed, like the pixie and sasoon haircut.
Hecksel remembered a few of the hairstyles that were named after the women who made them popular, like the Farrah Fawcett feathered hairstyle or the Dorothy Hamill wedge cut.
One big change to her business was adding male customers to the clientele.
“Back when the men first started, we would only cut their hair on Wednesday night,” Sharon said.
Now, the male customer is half of her business, according to Hecksel.
But the biggest change Hecksel has seen has been in hair coloring.
“It is for the better. When I first started as a hair dresser, hair coloring was real generic and very hard on the hair. Very drying. But not any more.”
For many years, Hecksel went to St. Mary’s Care Center and Linden Wood Apartments to do hair for her long-time customers when they moved there.
More recently, full-time staff has been hired to do their hair.
She also does hair at the funeral home for her customers when they have died.
“Your customers are like family. When you do someone’s hair for 25 years, it is like your mother or grandma or sister,” Hecksel said.
For the last eight years, Sharon no longer works Saturdays except for weddings and special occasions.
“I have slowed down a lot, cutting down on hours,” Hecksel said. “I can say ‘no’ now.”
Her future plans will be to continue working as long as she can.
“As long as the legs and the body holds out, I am going to stay working,” Hecksel said. “What would I do?”
Sharon and Eldron’s family includes 11 grandchildren:
• Son Jeff is married to Kelly Kappes and they live in Lester Prairie with their five children.
• Son Brian is married to Karen Anderson and they live in New Ulm and have one child.
• Son Neil is married to Sharon Lindeen and they live in Lester Prairie with their two children.
• Son Jason is married to Karen Lindeen and they live in Silver Lake with their three children.