NORTH DUNDAS – Karen Parker is a strong woman, with a welcoming smile.
She survived and thrived in the business world for 30 years and earned her place in the Hall of Women Warriors (not real but it should be).
Karen is a daughter of Chesterville: born, raised and never gone. Her father worked at Nestlé and her mother worked in the town’s dental practice.
“Chesterville is home,” she notes. “He has everything you could possibly need.”
Karen says nothing is going right in Chesterville.
“My grandfather used to say that the river goes one way and the railway goes another,” she laughs.
After graduating from high school and a strong push to become a teaching assistant, Karen discovered her passion: hairdressing.
“I was going to school in Cornwall at the time and we had an hour’s lunch break so I walked around town and passed the Art & Technique Hairdressing School and decided to to apply.”
His trek resulted in a 30-year career with no end in sight.
Karen graduated from Art & Tech with perfect attendance, going through severe snowstorms to get to class and often beating teachers.
With a trade in the bag, Karen started out in a salon in Morrisburg before opening her own business in her parents’ garage.
But starting a business takes long days and thick skin.
“I remember one week the haircuts were $ 5 and my accountant told me no matter how much you earn just pick a day once a week to go to the bank and deposit your money,” explains Karen. “I set the date for Friday and I remember coming in with just a $ 5 bill because all week I had only had one haircut.”
But that was then and it is now and even a pandemic cannot dampen Karen’s resolve. She has built four stores in Chesterville and still has a smile on her face despite the financial difficulties of the past two years.
Karen says her success is due to hard work and education. She keeps abreast of the latest trends and is constantly taking online classes to learn new things.
“My dad loved watching me work,” she notes. “He passed away five years ago – he was just sitting there and he wasn’t interrupting me… just sitting down and watching me work. He used to say that people come in like they just got out of bed and come out with a million dollars.
Karen says being a hairdresser has filled her with goals.
“People confide in you, it’s like a friendship,” she explains, “I don’t refuse people. I always, always take new clients.
When it comes to hair, Karen can do it all. She also strongly believes in staying local and supporting your own community as much as possible.
“When your kids play hockey or bowling, it’s not the big box stores that sponsor them, it’s the local businesses that come together to help people. “
Karen says she saw the best of the community through Covid, when people stopped by her house and deposited gift certificates to keep her going while her business was closed.
“The people here are friendly, kind, generous and supportive. “
Karen says she loves where she lives, referring to her house as business in the front (facing houses, town) and party in the back (open fields, view of the campaign).
“My dog let loose this morning and I had three people there to help me,” she notes. “This community is just amazing. North Dundas is a great place to live and raise a family.