Surrounded by silver balloons and a crowd of admirers, Lisa Lane stood in the middle of her hair salon yesterday and glopped more sticky gel on her minister's head.
The Rev. Donna Smith peeked in the mirror as Lane parted her hair and reached for a curler. But the minister was completely relaxed in the barber stool. After five years of experimenting with different hairstyles, she trusts Lane to make her look good.
"She always comes up with something really nice," said Smith, pastor of Chew United Methodist Church in Edgewater, where Lane is a member.
Dozens of other fans kept streaming through the door of Lisa's of Annapolis Inc. yesterday to congratulate the small 28-year-old in the pink smock on her six years of business. They brought flowers and sweets and stayed to have their hair styled or share a laugh with her.
Her salon on West Street in Parole has become a kind of community hangout. Women come to try the latest hairstyle, the Flip or theWave, or to have their nails painted with extravagant designs. They also come to share their problems with Lane, who mixes an infectious exuberance with down-to-earth advice.
"They'll talk to me, tell mewhat's going on," Lane said. "I like to make them happy, make them feel good."
She was in a party mood yesterday, sporting pink lipstick, giggling and working out the details of her special. She plans tocount all her customers in the next weeks and give a $6 discount to the sixth, 16th, 26th and so on until she reaches 106. "I like that six," she said and laughed again.
Growing up in Edgewater, Lane never dreamed of becoming a hair stylist until she took vocational courses at South River High.
"If you had walked up to me at first in high school and said I was going to become a hair dresser, I would havelaughed in your face," she said. But by the time she graduated in 1981, she had changed her mind. She went to work in a neighborhood salon and quickly learned the trade. She also learned to save her money.
Although Lane now loves to indulge in shopping sprees, she still has a sharp eye for a bargain. She stuck to a tight budget in her first years and saved enough to buy her own salon, sandwiched between a tire shop and an adult bookstore near the Route 2 intersection of WestStreet.
"Being black and being a woman, it's harder," she said. "You have to go through more channels."
She was determined and ambitious enough to ignore the people who questioned whether she could pull off starting a business at age 21.
Now she has seven employees and a steady business. Women come from all over Annapolis, Edgewater,Calvert County and even the Eastern Shore to have their hair washed and styled by Lane. Some of her customers are the wives of WashingtonBullets basketball stars. And one little girl doesn't pay a cent.
Lane has become an informal big sister to an 8-year-old girl from O'Bery Court, treating her to manicures, curling her hair and letting her try on lipstick. The girl, whom Lane only knows by the nickname "Neenie," often spends hours hanging around the salon and watching Lanework.
"The thing I like most about her is that she really takes people under her wings," said Lane's receptionist, Cheryl Booth, 32.
The women sitting under the bubble driers know Lane best for her careful haircuts. She likes to try different styles, but always experiments first on herself before giving her customers a new hairdo.
The only thing she hasn't changed is her color, Lane said. Now cut in ashort, inverted bob, her hair has been long, curled, and even filledout with hair swatches. But it's always been blond.
Asked whethershe thinks blonds have more fun, Lane giggles. "No," she said. "But they get more attention."