The Perfect Touch retires
“Don’t worry Daddy, I’m going to beauty school to ruin other people’s hair, not my own,” Muriel Richardson assured her father.
He was the only family member who hesitated when she chose beauty school over becoming a veterinarian in 1964 — his only concern being she would dye her hair and destroy it.
“I never did destroy anyone’s hair,” Richardson said with a laugh as she looked back on 54 years as a hairdresser. Now, the naturally silver-haired woman who ran The Perfect Touch for 26 years is putting up her scissors and electrolysis equipment.
“The Perfect Touch is retiring too, along with me,” Richardson said. “I had a vision of working until I was 70. Under the circumstances, it took a few years to sell the shop. So of course, I passed that mark.”
She graduated in 1964 and chose the beauty school route at her mother’s suggestion. At the Roseburg Beauty School, she fell in love with the interactions with people and making sure they looked good.
“I had other ideas before, but decided that going to beauty school for a year wasn’t going to kill me,” Richardson said. “I just thought it was a fun thing and I could be with people. I liked being around people and I just continued on with that.”
After graduating from beauty school in 1965, she found her first employer, Fern Craig, who became her friend and mentor who taught her lessons she used throughout her career.
“Cater to the ones that come back, give an unforgettable shampoo and greet with a warm smile,” Richardson remembered Craig teaching her employees. “She was adamant about the shampoo.”
Richardson spent time in a few salons expanding her skills before she bought the original Perfect Touch building, located behind the former Safeway building on NE Stephens Street, in 1992. She and her husband spent two years designing and building a custom salon next door, so when Safeway wanted to expand into their space in 1999 and 2000, they chose to move the whole building by truck further up NE Stephens Street to where it stands now. Customers like Kathy Lewis stayed with Perfect Touch during the transitions.
“Muriel’s always been very friendly, very supportive, and would talk about anything,” Lewis said. “She’s a good talker and a good listener. You could tell with her clientele, she had a lot of elderly clients that just were so loyal to her.”
The Perfect Touch was a culmination of Richardson’s experience including electrolysis, which is the process of plucking and zapping hair at the root for permanent removal.
“I wanted diversification,” Richardson said. “I wanted something else besides doing hair.”
Richardson added electrolysis to her skill set before she learned how to cut men’s hair.
“Laser is okay, but electrolysis has been in business for over 100 years and I wouldn’t want to go against something that is definitely a permanent hair removal,” Richardson said. “I’ve kind of worked with anybody that does laser hair removal. It’s just a matter of people working together with other people no matter what they are doing.”
Lewis trusted Richardson with her hair, but also needed a consistent person for electrolysis.
“She was pretty much the only one who did electrolysis in this area,” Lewis said. “There’s been some people who’ve come and gone, but she’s been pretty steady.”
While it is hard to leave her customers who became friends, Richardson is ready to enjoy being a grandparent.
“I felt that it was time to be able to be with my husband and do things more with my family,” Richardson said. Her three children, grandchildren and great-grandchild all live in Eugene, and she wants to be able to spend more time with them.
Richardson’s clients trusted her with their hair, deciding even to forgo dying their natural gray at her suggestion, until they passed away.
“I really honestly felt privileged to know I put this person in the coffin and she looked as beautiful as if she were alive,” Richardson said.
The building is closed up and sold to a church, her two employees have new locations to continue their work and Richardson left the beauty world with her promise to her father intact — she never did dye her own hair.