“And I tried for a really long time. At the beginning of my career, I tried very hard to become a blonde specialist. I realized that I can’t make other people happy, so I decided that I needed to live for myself instead of living for what other people thought. I figured if I stayed true to myself, the rest would come,” she said.
By accepting himself in this way, Ramsey wants others to know that he deserves to live his fully authentic self, whether it means offending others or not. .
“The amount of growth I’ve seen as a person in four years…I’m not the same person. My brand is not the same. My lifestyle is not the same. Nothing about me is the same.” she said.
Michelle Marie Hair Salon is easily recognizable from the street by the large yellow scissors in the front yard and the rainbow flag hanging from the porch.
The first thing clients are most likely to see when they first walk into the salon that doubles as Ramsey’s family home is Indy, a dachshund-beagle mix. They see a large coffee bar to the right, and if you look up at the ceiling, you’ll see the rainbow ribbon chandelier that Ramsey and her husband used as centerpieces at their wedding this spring.
Ramsey, 28, grew up in Campbell County and attended Heritage High School, graduating in 2012. She also attended cosmetology school through technical school when she was 16 years old.
“My first choice was primary school, and the classes were full. So my second choice was cosmetology, and they put me in there,” she said. I was looking to use cosmetology as a way to earn college tuition and get a primary education degree, and I wanted to continue helping children. I didn’t know it would work, but I fell in love with it and it took me five minutes to get my toes wet and decide.”
What she fell in love with was the instant gratification—the opportunity to create something people loved.
“It’s like art. I love that people love my art and see it as an art form,” she said.
She discovered that her specialty was giving people’s hair bright rainbow colors.
“You don’t see them very often, especially around here,” said Ramsey. “There are people who specialize in blondes, and there are plenty of people who can create brunettes and redheads, but there aren’t many stylists who can actually do what I do.”
Maureen Byrd has been a client of Ramsey’s for four years and frequently changes her hair color. In fact, she has changed four times this year.
Not only does she come back to Ramsey, she regularly hands out business cards to patients at the Pearson Cancer Center in Sentra, where Byrd works.
“I work with a lot of cancer patients. I like to change their hair color for them. When asked if I would do it myself, I was like, ‘No, it’s going to be a mess. I have a stylist who does it,” she said.
Byrd found some hairstylists to be picky, so he enjoys Ramsey being the opposite.
“Many traditional salons have seasoned stylists set up in their own way, but they really hope they are open to other cultures, other sexualities, other religions, etc. No. Michelle said, “Okay, I’m not going to judge you. This is a no-judgment place. The reason I’m here is because she knows what she’s doing.” And we can have the most outlandish conversations that most normal people think we’re in a mental hospital,” she said.
But Ramsey said people in the community are becoming more open and accepting.
“Lynchburg was a very conservative town when I first moved here when I was nine years old, but over the last three years a more progressive mindset has emerged,” she said. . “There are a lot of people moving in from out of state, especially from the North. I can prove that I can do it.”
Ramsay’s goal is to help everyone adapt well, and she’s happy to be a part of that change.
“I think I felt like I wasn’t accepted as a stylist in the industry,” she said. “There are a lot of businesses and companies that are more structured, a little more rigid, and more by the book. You wear all black and you have to have this pure perspective on professionalism. I’m a professional, but I don’t consider myself to fit any definition of professionalism.I consider myself authentic.”
She doesn’t want people coming to the salon thinking they have to look their best. I want you to do it.
“Then they can leave here feeling they have to release all that emotion. They don’t have to take it with them,” she said.
Ramsey’s son, husband, husband’s daughter, and nephew all live in a circa 1911 house that she says is a symbol of growth and rebirth.
“Our family is very open-minded and accepting of all imperfections,” she said. “I made mistakes too, so I don’t want to turn anyone away because they made mistakes. I do not agree.
Unintentionally, her salon has become well-known in the LBGTQ community and also does hair for the transgender community.
“So our home has been the starting line for a lot of people to change,” she said.
She was discovered by many on the website of Strands for Trans, a registry of transgender-friendly barbershops and hair salons, and has served clients in Petersburg, Richmond, and Charlottesville. .
“I didn’t intentionally say, ‘I’m going to represent Hill City Pride. “I’m going to represent mothers of children with special needs. So it’s very easy to talk to people,” she said.
She has also become known as a safe place for clients with disabilities and those with children with disabilities.
Ramsey’s son is 4 years old and has an autism spectrum disorder and she wants him to have a voice wherever he goes in the world.
“He doesn’t really have it now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get it,” she said. I don’t want him to go unnoticed because he deserves to be accepted for who he is.”
She welcomes everyone and lets the kids play in her salon, let them color, and feed them snacks when they are hungry. She says she wants her clients to feel like they’ve stepped into her best friend’s house and be able to walk into her kitchen and dig inside her fridge.
“I’m a huge fan of the statement that it takes a village to raise a child and that no one should be left alone,” she said. So if you say you’re having a hard time with your groceries, I’m going to feed your kids while they’re here. It never occurred to me to do that.”