TOWNSEND -- Twenty-five years ago, a young hairdresser finally said yes to her biggest fans.
With the encouragement and backing of her parents, Christine Brown opened her own business, Klever Klippers, in the Harbor Mall.
"My dad helped out. He hounded me for three years," she said.
An avid fisherman and later owner of the Squannacook River Outfitters in the same mall, Paul Walter saw the mall going up when he came to town to fish.
Brown was not in a hurry to own a business. "I had to get experience," she said.
At the age of 23, after three years of cutting hair in a Chelmsford salon, she was ready to begin.
Her dad made the business plan. Her mom, Elaine Walter did the books. The Walters took out a second mortgage on their home.
Brown worked 12-hour days.
Within a year, the Townsend business was so successful, her mom left her job to become the full-time bookkeeper.
The Walters retired and in early 2003, Brown bought them out.
"It didn't come without a lot of hard work," she said, "You get what you put into it."
"We have a real solid clientele," she said.
"I really think it's important that you feel good about yourself. If you don't feel good about your hair, then you're not going to feel good about yourself," she said.
She and the other stylists take the time to listen to the customers, to find out what they want and to put the clients at ease, she said.
Styles change and she and the stylists employed at the salon are constantly upgrading their skills to stay on top of what is trending.
Some things have not changed much since she went to school. The same chemicals are used for coloring and other processes.
The salon added a new hair-straightening technique, keratin, for curly, frizzy hair. Manicures and pedicures are also offered.
Klever Klippers even has a part-time massage therapist.
"I can't even tell you," Brown said, "she's comforting. She's got warm hands."
Three of the stylists have been working at the salon since it opened.
Having employees rather than renting out booths works well for the stylists and the salon, Brown said.
She knows who will be coming in so there is always a stylist on duty. The salon advertises, so the stylists get more business.
The Westford-born business owner has become part of the local scene. She and her family live in Ashby.
The salon participates in local fundraisers like a coat drive for the Townsend Ecumenical Outreach and will be participating at Project Graduation again this year.
She employs 11 people and recently hired a local man, Jim Rollo, to renovate and custom-build a reception desk for the salon.
"It's been a great ride," she said.