A Family Affair
Anna Morris styles a customer’s hair at her salon located on the corner of West Colvin Street and Midland Avenue.

A Family Affair

Beauty salon owner reflects on her 40-year presence in the community

Anna Morris’ passion has kept her busily styling hair in her beauty salon 40 years after she opened it on the South Side.

At her station, a sign cut from an American Beauty Salon book reads, “Don’t quit.” Whenever Morris has felt discouraged, she looked at the sign to recall that same passion and drive she had when she first opened her salon in 1977.

Anna’s Beauty Salon has occupied the corner of West Colvin Street and Midland Avenue for four decades, through the owner’s personal struggles and the South Side community’s struggles.

“I’ve been in Syracuse since 1966, and I’ve always loved my community,” Morris said. “It has given me so much just being in the community and watching the different changes we have gone through, and just being a part of making it a better place — not only for business, but to live, just being there. I feel grateful just knowing that I could call this home.”

Anna Morris has owned her salon for the past 40 years.

The owner said she hopes her longtime roots in the community will inspire young entrepreneurs to realize that owning a business is possible based on their dreams.

Even as a young girl, Morris dreamed of being a beautician. She and her sister, Deloris Perry, would do each other’s hair every week for church. One Sunday, the two got into an argument, so her sister wouldn’t do Morris’ hair.

“I did my own hair,” Morris said. “And I loved the way it came out, and my mom loved it, and I just fell in love with it then. In the end, maybe that was good that she didn’t do my hair. The courage and everything came.”

With family in the area, Morris’ salon has been a place for her family members to spend time together. Some have also pursued careers in styling.

Ciara James, Morris’ granddaughter, started working at the beauty salon last year and found her passion for hair styling in a similar way. Once she figured out how to do her own ponytail when she was 8, she wouldn’t let anyone else style her hair.

James spent time after school at the beauty salon when she was younger, and she said being in the environment had a big influence on her interest in styling hair.

“A lot of people used to say about my grandma, ‘Your grandma’s got growing hands,’ meaning with her hands, their hair’s growing and healthy, and now I have a lot of people that say that about me, too, so it makes me feel good,” said James.

James is Morris’ second relative to work in the salon. Morris’ niece worked with her in the 1990s, and she then later moved to Atlanta and opened her own beauty salon.

Morris said she always hoped her granddaughter would want to become a beautician and join her at the salon. In October, James marked a full year of working at the salon, where she learned about being professional and knowledgeable about clients’ hair.

Morris said she believes James is an asset that helps maintain the business as Morris gets older and needs to take care of herself.

“I loved it so much that I never considered how many years,” Morris said about her 40-year career. “I didn’t put a time limit on it.”

The salon’s “family-oriented community” keeps Morris encouraged as the owner and as a person. Her sister said she frequently visits the salon for the community feeling.

“It’s almost like a safe haven. You feel comfortable here,” Perry said. “Our neighborhood has gone through a lot of challenges, it still is, but when you come here, you just feel safe. It’s just the spirit of this place, the beautiful spirit.”

Morris said she has stayed true to her roots since opening the salon. The constant customers and feeling of community keep her passion and enthusiasm alive.

“The future for me is to maintain and continue to grow, and who knows,” Morris said. “I’m looking forward to be greater and greater in whatever I’m doing.”

 

— Article and photos by Connor Fogel, The Stand reporter