ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
Like drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola was for her as a child in West Virginia, Sherry Vestring hopes a visit to her Soda Pop Hair Shop in Burns will be a special experience.
Vestring’s childhood memories of this sweet treat inspired not only the name of her new beauty salon but also the Coca-Cola decorations that fill the shop, she said.
“Nowadays Coca-Cola is not special for anybody,” Vestring said. “But I remember when I was a child, we had Coca-Cola maybe twice a year.
“It was just a wonderful time,” she said. “Something about Coca-Cola just always made me feel happy.”
Vestring wants to make her customers just as happy, not only with her cheery red-and-black decor but with her expert services as well.
After nearly eight years as a manager and stylist at Snip-N-Clip salons, most recently in El Dorado, the Burns resident decided to open her own shop right at home.
Soda Pop Hair Shop opened it doors at 100 E. Broadway on March 31, following a long winter of renovation, Vestring said.
Three months later, she couldn’t be happier with her decision.
“When I left Snip-N-Clip, I was very unsure of what I was supposed to be doing,” she said. “But now I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be.”
Vestring said running her own small-town shop is much less stressful than her previous work.
“I’m so much more relaxed here,” she said. “It just seems to be like home.”
Burns has been home to Sherry and husband Joe for the last eight years, but it was home to Joe as a child as well, Vestring said.
Joe brought her back to Burns from Charlotte, N.C., she said, where she had lived for most of her adult life after moving there from her West Virginia hometown.
Vestring’s mother, Eileen Sigmon, joined the couple in Burns three years ago.
She has been helping Vestring run the hair shop since it opened.
It was Sigmon’s failing eyesight that led Vestring to make her career move from El Dorado home to Burns, she said.
“It was time for me to start my own shop and be with her because her eyes are not doing good,” Vestring said. “To just leave her in Burns was not good for me or her.”
A former hairstylist before her eyesight worsened, Sigmon now assists her daughter with cleaning, answering the phone and other shopkeeping duties.
She and Vestring’s father were instrumental in their daughter’s young start in beautician work, Vestring said.
“I came home when I was a kid and, especially during the summer time, there was always perm smells and hair cuts,” Vestring said. “I just liked it.”
Vestring’s coal-mining father served as the 7-year-old’s first customer-not a paying one, but a willing test subject nonetheless.
“(My brothers) always had this model-airplane paint,” she said. “And I’d paint my father’s toenails with that in different colors.”
Vestring also dug into her mother’s cosmetics for some of the beauty treatments.
“She said that was ok, just not to touch her,” Vestring said. “So we left her out of it, and I got to work on Dad every time he had a spare minute.
“If I caught him laying down- boy, he’d had it,” she added with a laugh. “I was right on top of him with the towels and makeup.”
Vestring also imitated her mother’s handiwork on the hair of any willing friend or neighbor.
“I did hair stuff when I wasn’t even old enough to know what I was doing, but I loved it,” she said.
Vestring continued studying cosmetology at Beckley Beauty Academy in West Virginia, she said, before moving to North Carolina at age 21 after her father died.
Now she puts her training to work in a building renovated by her husband, service adviser for Resnik Motors in Newton.
“He does a lot of carpentry work,” Vestring said. “He’s responsible for putting this building together with our kids-his boys and my son and my son-in-law.”
While their children and two grandchildren all live in Wichita, Vestring said she and Joe have been anything but lonely since moving to Burns.
“I’ve felt really lucky to have all these friends around here,” she said. “Burns is a very friendly place.”
Burns residents have also been loyal customers, Vestring said, whether they already came to her in El Dorado or moved their business from another salon when she opened in their hometown.
“I’m making as much money as I did at Snip-N-Clip,” she said. “And they were paying me top-scale, and manager’s pay and bonuses and commission.
“So I feel like I’m doing great here,” she said.
While there are admittedly good days and slow days, Vestring said the flow of business is always manageable for her as the shop’s only stylist.
“I never seem backed up,” she said. “Most of the time, it’s like one comes in at a time, and at the end of the day, I’ve done pretty well.”
Soda Pop Hair Shop’s hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Walk-ins are welcome, or appointments can be scheduled by calling Vestring at 726-5700.
Vestring said she hopes her fledgling business will only continue to grow in the months to follow.
“If business would get even better than it is, I would like to expand one day,” she said. “I would love to have a place for suntan beds.”
If growth continues, she may eventually decide to hire an assistant to do manicures and pedicures while she continues styling hair.
“I can handle it now pretty good by myself,” she said.
Vestring offers a variety of services and products, beginning with a basic haircut, $9 for adults and $8 for children 11 and under.
She also gives shampoos and deep conditioning treatments, sets hair and does perms and coloring.
Wax therapy treatments come in eucalyptus for feet and vanilla for hands, she said.
Manicures, pedicures and facial waxing are also available.
Vestring’s newest service is microdermabrasion, a $15 facial treatment. The 45-minute process consists of cleansing, exfoliating, toning and moisturizing, she said.
Customers can also pamper themselves or a loved one with hair and skin products in popular brands such as Ion, Bath & Body Works and Biolage.
“I want to stay stocked up on products, not just products for your hair needs, but for gifts,” Vestring said. “It’s a small town and a lot of people want gifts for different occasions without having to run to El Dorado for it.”
Vestring said she wants to stay up on not only the latest beauty products but techniques as well.
As a Snip-N-Clip manager she attended seminars once a year to learn new techniques and styles, even though such recertification training is not required in Kansas.
“As you get older, you don’t want to get behind,” Vestring said. “So now it’ll be up to me to go to my seminars and things that are close in Wichita.”
Vestring doesn’t mind doing that, though. It’s part of why she’s in the business, she said.
“I get really fascinated with different cuts,” she said.
“I just love foolin’ with people’s hair,” she added. “I like meeting new people, and I like seeing what their hair’s going to do as opposed to somebody else’s.”
She enjoys working with a customer’s style preference, Vestring said, even if the request is not what she would have chosen.
“Maybe their hair texture’s not the right type for that, but it’s fun to try to create what people want,” she said.
Vestring’s philosophy seems to be good for business, as customers spread the word of her work to others both in Burns and beyond.
“I’m picking up new (customers) all the time,” she said. “I never thought there would be this much business here.
“It’s more than I thought.”