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Hair Port Styling Salon is A Local Treasure

(left to right) April Reeder, Leigh-Taylor Padgett, Lakean White, Janet Gossett, Lilly Kate Padgett, and Kem Gossett
(left to right) April Reeder, Leigh-Taylor Padgett, Lakean White, Janet Gossett, Lilly Kate Padgett, and Kem Gossett

Anyone can expect a quality haircut, but there may be those who want a little more – perhaps a friendship with their hairstylist.

At Hair Port Styling Salon, located at 1903 University Avenue – Suite 10, Leigh-Taylor Padgett feels having a kinship with her customers is as important as making them as beautiful as they want to be.

Leigh-Taylor said, “We want to have a family feel in this salon. It’s an intimate experience having someone touch your hair, and I don’t want customers to feel uncomfortable. They can talk to us — we’re like a little family here in this salon.”

Any longtime Oxonian local could feel right at home in the salon. The salon is lovely with a poppy vintage feel, but any Oxonian with a good eye might spot a few local treasures: a backdoor that once belonged to Proud Larry’s, and a glass sunflower bowl gifted to Leigh-Taylor by Dot Zinn (Dorothy Jean Tutor Zinn) whose family owned Handy Andy’s Grocery Store.

Those who lived in Oxford since 1980s may remember that the salon was once on North Lamar Street.

Leigh-Taylor bought this salon from Kem Gossett, who currently works there, this April. The salon has existed in Oxford since 1989. Kem remembers the first days of the Hair Port Styling Salon when it was across the street from Handy Andy’s.

“The first months I worked there people called us and hung up as soon as they heard ‘Hairport,’ thinking we meant the airport,” said Kem. “Once we asked for a delivery from Handy Andy’s. We watched a delivery person leave the restaurant, right across from us, and drive off only to come back much later with our food.”

Kem, a friendly blonde lady with an easy smile, sold the salon to Leigh-Taylor who she has known for a decade as she worked in the Hair Port Salon every now and then.

She said, “I knew she was ready to do something. She’s ready to take on the Hair Port Salon and I’m ready to rent my station and go home with no worries at the end of the day.”

Kem seems to be right because Leigh-Taylor is brimming with energy and dreams for the Hair Port Styling Salon.

“It’s a passion. It doesn’t feel like work to me,” she said, “Our motto is: ‘If your hair isn’t becoming to you, you should be coming to us!’”

She has been styling hair for 10 years since she graduated from the Cosmetology school at Northwest Mississippi Community College. She said that Heidi Riley, an instructor of cosmetology, was her biggest influence.

Leigh-Taylor said, “I was trying to figure out whether hair styling was for me, but Heidi told me that she’d take me on for a third year, and this school only did two years!”

Heidi Riley said, “I think even Leigh would admit she was not the perfect student at the start but became more focused as a senior. Leigh didn’t spend her ‘down time’ avoiding work; she would create up-dos on her mannequin that might look like a pineapple or a flower. I still show photos of her work to new students. Leigh is kind to give me credit, but the credit goes to her. I try to provide a great foundation for all my students to build upon. The ‘Leigh-Taylors’ make me look good!”

Leigh-Taylor is dedicated to the Hair Port Styling Salon. Every day she drives down from Memphis to run it. She has a vision for the salon: open a second one in Memphis and eventually have a beauty school in addition.

Meanwhile, the Hair Port Salon has six colorists and hair stylists. The price range for a women’s haircut is $20 to $45 with $15 for men. Highlights will cost anywhere from $75 to $95. The salon can handle ethnic hair care and styling also.

Leigh-Taylor said, “We cater to families too, especially large families, with discounts. It’s no life having haircuts that you can’t afford.”

She does have business goals but at the end of the day, she’d rather see smiling customers feel the most beautiful they can possibly feel. So those who love having a great chat with their hair stylists are more than welcome to enjoy haircuts and manicures at the Hair Port Styling Salon.

Callie Daniels is a staff reporter and writer for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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