For more than 30 years, Hope resident Vickie Tedder has been one of the go-to hair stylists in town. She recently talked about what brought her to hair dressing, what she enjoys most about it, and what contributes to the longevity of the 51-year-old's successful business on the Square.

How long have you been a hairdresser?

I went to beauty school during my senior year of high school and got my license in 1984.

How long have you had your own shop?

I've had my own shop in Hope for 32 years.

What were the early days like when you were first starting out?

My very first job I worked in Columbus when I got out of beauty school and did that for a year.

Then I went to Karen Thayer, who had a shop here in Hope. I wanted to do hair here at home. I went to her and said, "You are in this salon by yourself, would you be interested in having someone work with you?" and she was gracious enough to say, "Yes." The shop was called the Doll House and was located behind a residence on Harrison Street. She was there a couple of years.

Then a gentleman had a space in the Masonic building next to the funeral home and he offered up a space upstairs. It was called Shorty's Trim and Gym. He opened up this health spa and Karen said she could run the hair shop and I followed her. We did that for a couple of years and then Carolyn Stover had the salon in this unit we have now - she stopped doing hair and went to work out of her home. Karen and I decided to cross the street and go in that spot and that was in 1987. My sister, Laura Miller, and I and her husband bought these four units where we are now 15 years ago, remodeled it and I moved on this end.

How would you describe how you've grown your business over the years?

Word of mouth has always been the best advertisement you have and having compassion for people and taking care of them and making them feel special. I can't say "no" to anyone. I am my own boss and yet I have these people who need me when they need me. It has worked well for me.

What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?

The flexibility. Two years ago we opened WILLow LeaVes of Hope and I have been able to adjust my hours to make this work. And my daughter Aleah Smith went to beauty school right out of high school and has worked with me for the past seven years.

What would be your advice to others who seek similar longevity for their small business?

I would have to say, having compassion for others and always be willing to please. You have to commit (to the business). I was so lucky to know early on that I knew what I was going to do when I grew up. I didn't want to go to college, I wanted to do something hands-on.

What is something that makes your role as a hairdresser stand out?

Sometimes I think I should have a psychology degree. People bring their problems to you and you have to answer them. I've always been honest and I'm going to say how I feel. You learn to give people advice because that is what they expect when they're sitting in your chair.

How many clients do you see each week?

It varies. I'm taking care of 45-50 clients working about 20 hours a week. Aleah is here about three days a week and she sees about 30 people in three days each week. Over the years, I've gotten generational clients. I have Old Faithfuls, as I call them, because I've done their hair since I've been in Hope. They've allowed me to take care of them for 30 years. There have been so many people who have been long-term with me. I have three 90-year-olds.

What does it take to build such a loyal clientele?

It is trust. You build trust. I've had some true blessings with people sticking around allowing me to do their hair year after year.