Phoenix rises from the ashes

Published 11:09 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Last year, Christmas just wasn’t the same for Jean Rush, Nancy Tyree, Thelma Butler and Lois Little.

Just four days before the holiday, the four friends and co-workers were blindsided when the salon they all worked at burned to the ground.

“It was terrible,” Little said.


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While some people might have been stopped in their tracks by the sudden tragedy, these four decided to take action.

“The four of us got together and decided we would open a shop together,” Butler recalled. “We were just determined to get into a place of our own. The four of us had been working together for years, and we have been friends for years.”

“We were throwing different things around; it was a joint effort,” Little said. “We were sitting at a restaurant, and we came up with Phoenix 4.”

Just a little more than two months later, the four friends officially cut the ribbon Tuesday on their new Phoenix Four salon, located on Churchland Boulevard.

It has been a whirlwind winter, they said. In fact, just 68 days after Hair Performance (their former salon) burned down, the women were up and running Phoenix 4.

“There’s nothing that four smart women can’t do when they put their mind to it,” Little said.

“We were determined,” Butler said. “We’re just so proud of what we’ve done.”

While they are proud of the journey they have been on for the past three months, they acknowledge they could not have accomplished it without tremendous help.

For example, Pam Toms owned Genesis 2, a fellow salon in Portsmouth. She opened up her store for the ladies to come in and work with their clients while they were putting together Phoenix 4.

Then there was Toni Davis, a friend and neighbor of Rush’s, who came in to help with the interior work of the salon, including laying down some of the floor.

And Rush’s husband, Mike, became a one-man renovation team as he put up walls, shelves and windows in the new shop.

“He had fun with it,” Rush said. “I think he enjoyed it.”

On top of the help the women received with getting their store up and running, they said they were touched by the extra help they received keeping their business intact.

After the fire, all of the women’s equipment, tools and records were destroyed. Customers came in with church directories to help contact old clients; they networked with old friends and even gave them money to get the needed equipment to keep up.

“We have wonderful customers,” Rush said.

As the women celebrated their new premises Tuesday afternoon, it was hard for them to think of the devastating fire as negative.

“They always say something good comes from something bad,” Butler said. “And the fire was something good for us.”

“We just feel we’ve died and gone to heaven,” Little said. “It’s been a tremendous blessing to us.”