Jessica Lay takes ownership of 52-year-old downtown salon

Jessica Lay is the new owner of Char-Mae in downtown Sabetha. Lay says she excited to continue Char-Mae’s legacy of offering professional haircare and beauty services for families.

Growing up watching her parents own an iconic Sabetha Main Street business, Jessica Lay knows what it takes to keep a legacy going in a small town business district. So when the opportunity presented itself for Lay to do the same, she couldn’t pass it up.

“Char-Mae has been a fixture on Main Street for several decades, providing families with haircare services,” Lay said. “I want to keep that legacy going.”

Char-Mae was founded by namesakes, Charlotte Hartter (Char) and Alta Mae Hopp (Mae), in 1967. Linda McGuire purchased the business in 1974 and maintained ownership until now. Lay took ownership on Jan. 1, 2019.

“We need local beauty salons here in Sabetha,” Lay said. “It is important to keep our Main Street going to provide services for our community.”

Lay was born and raised in Sabetha, and graduated from Sabetha High School. She attended Kansas State University for a few years, before turning her sights on pursuing her childhood dream of being a hairstylist. She studied at Bellus Academy in Manhattan, earning certification in cosmetology.

Lay moved back to Sabetha in 2013, and started right away working in her field.

“Since I moved back to Sabetha in 2013, I have been blessed by this community and my clients,” Lay said.

After spending a few years at a different salon, Lay said, she started looking toward the future and serendipitously ran into Char-Mae owner Linda McGuire.

“I ran into Linda, and we were talking about the salon and her wanting to retire in a few years,” Lay said. “I was ready to make a change, and later I contacted her about it. We discussed the possibility of me purchasing the business when she was ready to retire. We both agreed that I should try and work there for a couple of years to see if it was a good fit.”

After making a switch to Char-Mae, Lay said it “felt like home.”

“I grew up coming to Char-Mae and even job shadowed Linda [McGuire] when I was in eighth grade,” Lay said. “We truly have a great staff, and I enjoy working with everyone at the salon.”

Lay had worked at Char-Mae for three years when McGuire let her know she was ready to retire ownership, though she still wanted to continue working in a more limited capacity. For Lay, whether or not to purchase the business was a “yes” she had already made before the question was officially asked.

“It was my plan when I switched salons to eventually purchase the business,” Lay said. “Linda has been a great mentor the last three years, and I am so fortunate to still have her at the salon to help with the transition of running the business.”

Moving forward, Lay said, she will strive to keep up on continuing education to provide the best quality of service for her clients to keep them shopping here in town, as well as providing a professional environment that people can come into and feel comfortable and well treated.

Lay said that Char-Mae will continue offering the same services it always had, and maintain a similar schedule.

While the store does not have set hours, Lay said, at least one stylist is in the salon during regular business hours Monday through Saturdays. Walk-ins are welcome if time permits, but appointments are recommended.

Char-Mae will continue offering full range of hair care and beauty services — including but not limited to haircuts, hair coloring, perms, manicures, pedicures and massages. These services are provided to women, men and children, with a focus on having a family friendly environment.

Char-Mae also sells take-home hair care and beauty products, such as hair products and nail polish.

A few changes are in store, however. A big change is that Lay said she hopes to add spray tanning to the service menu.

On a smaller scale, Lay said customers should be on the lookout for monthly specials, which she will post on Facebook and Instagram. For example, in February Char-Mae is offering special for “20 percent off select products we love.”

Within the store, Lay said she is planning to do a few remodeling projects, such a re-painting and re-flooring the business.

“We have most of the painting done, but it will be a few months probably before we have our flooring finished,” Lay said.

Following the remodeling, Lay said, a grand opening will be planned.

“I would like to thank Linda for giving me this opportunity and trusting me to take over this business,” Lay said. “I’d also like to thank the community for all of the well wishes I have received, and for all the help I’ve received from our staff and my family during this transition. I’m looking forward to giving back to this community that has given so much to me.”

Amber Deters121 Posts

Amber Deters is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2005. She specializes in school board, election and legislative reporting, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Amber is a 2005 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in journalism and mass communications, print journalism sequence. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and three children.

1 Comment

  • Sharon Peck Reply

    February 5, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Great article about Jessica’s commitment to the community and to the economic vitality of Main Street, Sabetha. I wish her the best of luck.

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