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Dollheads in Nacogdoches

Every child has certain aspirations for when they grow up. Many children look up to their parents for support in what they aspire to be when they are older. Some say to follow your dreams right away. Other parents tell their children to go to college, graduate and then follow your dreams. 

Holly Crawford, 35, of Nacogdoches, TX, always wanted to be a professional hair stylist, but her parents insisted she go to college to get a degree. 

“I actually went to SFA for one semester,” Crawford said. “I hated it. I was flunking out. I was just miserable, and I really wanted to go get my hair license. My parents finally supported me because I wasn’t happy. So, I got into hair school and never looked back.” 

Crawford now owns the reputable salon Dollheads, which is located in downtown Nacogdoches. If your hair is purple and blown out to perfection, chances are you just visisted Dollheads. The salon offers specialty styles such as eccentric haircuts, unconventional color and intricate updos. Crawford says she is known to do “out-of-the-box hair.”

Crawford is average height with multiple colors running through her locks. Her makeup looks as if it has been professionally done. She is dressed casually since it is the weekend, but her lax attire does not compare to her work. Crawford is hard at work, washing and dying hair, while she talks about her past experiences.

Climbing up the ladder was not a particularly smooth process for Crawford. When she first started out in the hair industry, Crawford worked for other stylists for about two years. She quickly learned that she had the most clientele out of the other employees, so she decided to start her own business. 

“I opened my first salon when I was 26,” says Crawford. “It was a really bad location for a business, but I was still really busy because I worked off of referrals.”  

After about three years, Crawford decided it was best to move her business to a more visible location. Since she was leasing the commercial property, she subsequently faced problems with her landlord. At the end of the lease, Crawford relocated downtown.

“You want to jump on it if you have the opportunity to move your business downtown because there are such limited spaces and most of these buildings are family-inherited so not a lot of people are willing to sell,” says Crawford. “I love downtown because I feel like people who aren’t from here come downtown. That’s the first place you’re going to go when you’re in the oldest town in Texas.”

Nonetheless, the hustle and bustle of owning a business comes with many advantages and disadvantages. Crawford says what she finds most rewarding is that she gets to do what she loves while making someone’s day and building relationships. 

“People feel so much better about themselves when they look better. And I have had people coming to me since I got out of hair school. So that’s over 10 years.” Crawford smiles and says that it is really cool to build relationships with clients, and it feels good to see the smile on their face when they see their new look.

Crawford says the downfall of owning her business is keeping the salon staffed because the stylists who go to cosmetology school in Nacogdoches are not as educated as they should be.

“The schools around here don’t educate as a Paul Mitchell school would educate. The mainstream schools teach way more, so it’s a downfall for me to get employees.” Crawford says that she takes in employees from what seems like ground zero. “They can’t even wash or blow-dry hair. It doesn’t matter if they have a cosmetology license. It’s like starting over.”

Even though the cosmetology business is a vastly-growing industry, many stylists know each other through networking at events such as hair shows.  

Crawford met her idol, Rosie Matos, owner and Paul Mitchell National Educator, at one of these shows.

“She owned a school at age 40, which is a super lucrative business to own. She has done celebrity hair and walks the red carpets. I really respect and admire her.” 

Crawford takes a moment to think about another one of her role models then states that her dad is someone she looks up to. She shares a story about her father and how he just retired after owning a business for 20 years. Crawford says she commends his business model because the stronger the business model, the longer a business can stay open. 

Fortunately for Crawford, Dollheads seems to have a strong business model. With the style in which the salon is decorated (chic, following a white, metallic and neutral color pattern with sparkly accent pieces) and how inviting it is, clients are just drawn to the place.

Crawford says that she is indeed hustling with her busiest days being Friday and Saturday, which are booked months in advanced. 

“It’s never-ending when you’re a successful salon. Today is Sunday, and I have the door locked. I’m not even supposed to be here, but I couldn’t fit everyone in yesterday. I work seven days a week sometimes, but I own my business. I can’t complain.” 

Starting a business is a daunting process, and turning that business into a successful one is even more taxing. But Crawford is fast on giving advice to any young person starting their own hair business. 

“If you’re starting out, I would say the most important thing is to go into a salon where they do continued education. For example, Paul Mitchell comes into my salon and does classes for me.”

“When you get out of school you need to be under someone who you can watch and learn from,” she says. “Go to a salon where you can get free education. Most decent salons are going to offer that to their employees.”

Crawford’s signature style has been a staple in the Nacogdoches community, reaching out from the college demographic to the elderly population. Dollheads opens at 9 a.m. Monday-Saturday. Hours vary upon closing.

Hi! My name is Andréa Tinoco. I am a senior at SFA, majoring in journalism and minoring in general business. My position at Her Campus SFA is the Campus Correspondent as well as Editor In Chief. My passions include writing, reading, running and yoga.
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