As the world braces for the coronavirus pandemic, we look at how Elizabeth Osbourne, the former president of the United States’ oldest and largest hair salon chain, helped save lives and put a smile on a lot of people’s faces.
She was born in 1924, but lived through World War II and the Vietnam War before she returned to the United Sates to run her own hair salon in the early 1960s.
“I was in the Navy and in the Marines, I served in the South Pacific, I was a nurse, and then I had this really great opportunity to go back and do a hair service, and so I did that for 15 years,” she said.
“In a way I feel that I’ve been fortunate, and I’ve really benefitted from the fact that people are looking for it.
It’s an opportunity to show them that this is something they can do, and they can help somebody out and help their family, because we do a lot for our community.”
It was the same with the hairdresseshops.
Osborne worked at her own salon in Chicago, where she opened her own brand of hairdriders in the 1960s, before she moved to New York City in the 1980s to start her own company, Hair Therapy.
“It was an exciting time in the hair world, I think, because it was just a new beginning,” she recalled.
“But I think it was also a time where I had some issues, because I was trying to get my career going.
I was working in an office, I didn’t have the space, and my hair was starting to fall out.”
That was the time that Osbourne met her wife, the now-famous hairdrymageddon star and former president, Elizabeth Osborn.
“We were doing a hairdring business, and she asked if I’d be interested in a job and I was,” Osbourne said.
That’s when Osborne began to meet up with the hair stylist who would become her partner, the late and influential hairstylist, Eliza Johnson.
“And I thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s so good at her job,'” Osbourne recalled.
“I think it’s because she’s really a real person.
She has her own vision.
She understands that there are so many different things in life, and that it’s important that we all learn from each other, and understand that there’s beauty in all of that.”
When Osbourne first met Johnson, she thought her wife was a model.
“She had a really good figure and I thought, ‘Wow, she looks really great,’ and she just looked great,” Osborne said.
But the relationship went sour quickly.
“Elizabeth didn’t know how to talk to me about my hair, because she didn’t even know what hair care was,” she added.
“So I didn, and we had this falling out, and it became really difficult.”
Johnson said that’s when the two became close.
“They started to talk and we were kind of hanging out and I said to Elizabeth, ‘I’m thinking of starting my own company.
I’m thinking about doing a business that makes money,'” she said, recalling her initial thought.”
When she said that, she said she thought of Elizabeth and I, and of course she thought, she loves Elizabeth, and this is the right thing to do.”
It didn’t take long for Johnson to realise the power of a relationship like that.
“Eliza, when she first saw Elizabeth, said to me, ‘You know, I never really thought about Elizabeth as a person, but she is such a wonderful person.
This is the first time I’ve seen her in a long time,'” she recalled, laughing.”
My thought was that I needed to learn about her, and how she was, and what she was like, and all of the other things that I think about her.
I thought I would do a haberdaption with her, I would get to know her, see what she did and what her business was.
So she did it, and now I’ve done it.
I’ve got my own hair business.
She’s my wife.”
And it’s not only her hairdyling business that’s a success.
She also worked with Johnson’s daughter, Elizabeth and son, George, on her book of personal essays.
“George and I were just trying to put together a collection of essays about how I was able to help a lot people, and the book is really about how Elizabeth helped a lot more people than I thought she would, and Elizabeth helped more people that I had never seen before,” Osborn said.
Osborne is still working with Johnson on her memoir, The Last One: My Story of the Next Century, and has also begun work on her next book, What Happened: