My Brilliant CareerJuly 1, 2008 By: Rachel Aguiar American Salon
Frances London DuBose went from giving her dolls haircuts as a child to becoming a successful salon owner and published stylist.
Even when she was three years old, cutting her baby doll's hair in her hometown of Hickory, NC, Frances London DuBose knew that styling hair was her life.
"It's the love of my life," DuBose says. "I started beauty school two weeks out of high school and haven't looked back since."
After beauty school, it didn't take long for DuBose's career to take off. Since opening her first salon 47 years ago, she has owned three different salons. In 1976, DuBose opened her current location, London Hair, in Mount Pleasant, SC.
DuBose has continued to make waves in the beauty industry throughout her career. She has been a member of Intercoiffure since 1988 and was an original member of the Zotos Creative Design Group. DuBose developed her own product line of shears and haircare products in addition to the Styling Tool razor, which she says she imagined in a dream. "The day before, I was cutting someone's hair and I was having trouble getting the softness I wanted from all the wispy hairs around the face." Her husband created the prototype and Scruples Haircare produced it for a couple of years before giving ownership back to DuBose. "Creating the razor is probably one of the things that I'm most proud of."
DuBose has dedicated a sizeable chunk of her career to educating and advising new generations of stylists. She has created 12 educational videos and even co-written a book. "I think it's really important for hairdressers to give back," DuBose says. "I love teaching; ever since I've been doing hair I've been teaching."
DuBose says she particularly prides herself on encouraging other people to do their own photo work. "It has so many benefits, you can't believe," she says. "You can produce your own posters for your salon. If you have your own product line, you can do your own photography." DuBose's photos have been featured in several prominent publications, both in the United States and abroad.
Her favorite advice to give beauty school graduates is to find someone whose work they admire and not to let them out of their sight. "When you get out of beauty school, it's like you're coming out of kindergarten," she says, "Beauty school only gives you a mere sampling."
DuBose says she has admired countless people's work over the years and tries to learn from them. In particular, she remembers taking several classes with Vidal Sassoon in the late '60s.
"One of my fondest memories was when I was at a show with Vidal Sassoon in the late '60s and he gave me an 8-by-10," she says. "Later, in 1992, I heard he was going to be at Haircolor USA. I went and we had another picture taken together. That was a real highlight to meet him again."
After spending more than 50 years in the industry she chose when she was just three years old, DuBose has never regretted her decision a day. "When you really love something, it's a 24-hour thing," she says. "Every time we make someone look great and they say 'I love it,' that's it. That's all I need." —RACHEL AGUIAR