NORMAN — Editor’s note: To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Transcript plans to run articles featuring successful women in the community.
When Loretta Kuhlo, Shorty Cecil-Duffy, Allene Williams, Janie Dilks and Malinda Cheshire close the doors to KLAS Creation on Friday after 30 years, they will do it not because they are financially unstable or burned out. They will do it because they believe strongly that this is what God has instructed them to do.
A business built entirely around their faith, KLAS opened it’s doors for the first time on May 3, 1983, with Kaye Bostick, Loretta, Allene and Shorty. Prior to opening KLAS, the women were working at another salon and were not happy.
“We were told there were some changes coming in the salon and we had to choose to stay and adjust to these changes or find another place to work. We decided to go to another salon, but we didn’t feel good about the decision. We attended the same church so we prayed together about what God wanted us to do. It had been suggested that we start our own salon, but we didn’t have the money, the salon or the desire to do it,” Loretta said.
“Behold, I send an angel before you to keep and guard you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Give heed to Him, listen to and obey His voice; be not rebellious before Him or provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in Him, but if you will indeed listen to and obey His voice and all that I speak; then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”
— Exodus 23:20-22
Always being faithful to God, the women felt many scriptures spoke to them. However Exodus 23:20-22 gave them the answers they had so desperately needed. The decision was made. Kaye, Loretta, Allene and Shorty were going to open a salon. Even though the women didn’t have the money and their husbands wouldn’t put up the collateral to start a business, the four women stayed true to their hearts and persevered.
“We had known other hairdressers, Loretta and I had, and we saw how hard they worked. They had their own salons and we just didn’t want to go there,” Shorty said.
But there was still that feeling all four women had of being pushed into opening a salon.
“God showed us exactly what the salon was supposed to look like. This was two different units and that archway, that was in the picture I saw. And he also showed us these skinny windows on the southside. And the color scheme,” Shorty said.
Through prayer and scripture, the women believe that God gave them the location, the right equipment and the strength.
“They told us it would take five to six weeks to get the equipment, but on faith, we ordered it and it arrived in four weeks,” Loretta said.
As with any new adventure, there were struggles. The women had a hard time finding carpet and other items necessary to open the salon.
“We were making it hard, but the good Lord was ahead of us with his angels,” Allene said.
The women even say that God gave them the idea to name the salon KLAS, which is the first letter of the original owner’s first names.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every matter or purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted.”
— Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
Through the years, the women not only grew a stronger bond with each other, but they grew through Christ. Kaye left the salon several years ago, but KLAS continued to grow.
“We have been blessed to have Janie and Malinda working in our salon for several years. We have been through so much sickness and death together,” Loretta said. “When one rejoices, we all rejoice and when one mourns, we all mourn.”
One of those deaths was about a year ago when Loretta’s husband of 40 had died. Tim’s passing not only affected Loretta, but the entire salon who had, over the years, became a family.
“Tim willingly helped keep things in order, from changing light bulbs, shoveling snow in the parking lot, doing the books and so much more,” Loretta said.” His name wasn’t in the initials, but he was a big part of the shop in helping with whatever we needed. I was his wife, if I had a problem, it willingly became his problem. He bailed us out of a lot of things.”
“Do not earnestly remember the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am going to new things; now it springs forth; do not perceive and know it, and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
— Isaiah 43:18-19
“When I found out I was going to have to have surgery, we started praying,” Janie said. “I didn’t realize when I went to the doctor and he told me I had to have my wing worked on that it was going to be the house of cards. I realize my faith is strong and God has something around the corner I don’t know about. He is in control and has a plan.”
With the news that Janie would retire the women gathered again. This time, Isaiah 43:18-19 rang out in Loretta’s head.
“After I got off the phone with Janie, she called me at home that she was going to probably be gone three to six months, I hung up the phone and it was like that scripture kept running through my head. There’s a time and a season,” Loretta said.
It was then that all five employees of KLAS Creation decided to close its doors for good. Although Janie will retire, Loretta, Allene, Shorty and Malinda will go to work at Shapers Hair Studio.
The women are excited about the next chapters in their lives. And they know whatever path they go down, it will be inspired by their faith.
“We came in on faith and we are leaving because we feel like God spoke to us that it is time,” Loretta said. “My desire is to be in God’s will so whatever he has for us is what we will do. I can’t be sad that we’re closing, because I think it is in God’s will.”
“My only sadness in my situations is my relationships with all the people,” Janie said. “Have you ever read a really good book, I mean a book you were really into? And by the time you finished reading it you say, ‘Oh I wish it wasn’t over?’ You just enjoyed that book so much, you just wish there was another book that would go on. That’s kind of how we feel about this. It’s so good, you hate for it to end, but you know there is something else good out there.”