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Progress: No one else will 'do'

Weeks overdue for a haircut due to snowstorms and her work schedule, Gail Pearson drove to Red Wing from Balsam Lake, Wis., to get highlights and a cut and style. Hairdresser Tracey Lane, owner of Hair with Pizazz, begins by sectioning off Pearson’s hair. (Photos by Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor)1 / 7
1: Lane “paints” a section of Pearson’s hair with a blonde highlighting cream, then wraps a lock in foil.2 / 7
2: Sections of hair are colored alternately with blonde and red highlights, with natural color in between. Processing takes 15 minutes.3 / 7
3: After removing the foil to reveal the result of adding highlights to Pearson’s light brown hair, Lane shampoos and conditions Pearson’s hair to close down the cuticles.4 / 7
4: Cutting the hair is the next-to-last step. Then it’s time to style.5 / 7
5: A generous application of mousse helps Tracey Lane style Gail Pearson’s hair in a colorful, easy-to-care-for “do.”6 / 7
Ninety minutes and $77 later, Pearson is happy with the finished “do” — a style the women developed over the 20-plus years she has been coming to L7 / 7

By Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor

Tracy Lane didn’t expect that a simple cost-saving action would lead her to a career that she finds satisfying in every way.

“I wanted to learn how to cut hair so I didn’t have to pay to have my kids’ hair cut,” she explained.

A Pittsburgh, Pa., native who had moved to Minnesota to be near her sister, Lane signed up for cosmetology classes at Northeast Technical College in St. Paul, now known as Century College.

“Once I got into school, I loved it,” she said. “I had never planned to work behind a chair,” but she has no regrets about leaving work as a nursing assistant and becoming a hairdresser.

After finishing school, Lane moved to Red Wing in 1991 and started cutting hair at the Red Wing Mall.

“I knew I wanted to have my own business,” she added. “I like being my own boss.”

Four years later, she opened Hair with Pizazz on Third Street. In 2001 she moved the business to the Armory building on Plum Street. Now Lane works four days a week herself, doing manicures and pedicures as well as hair, plus she has five chairs she rents to other hairdressers.

Amazingly, Lane is still cutting hair for a number of people who were among her first customers at the Red Wing Mall more than 20 years ago.

Gail Pearson, one of those longtime clients, lived in Plum City when she first had her hair done by Lane. Now she makes the 90-minute drive from Balsam Lake, Wis., on a regular basis because Lane is the only person she trusts to get it right.

Pearson tried another hairdresser once when she was recovering from an auto accident and couldn’t get to Red Wing.

“They wrecked my hair,” she said. “Tracy’s the only one who can do it.”

That’s not surprising, since Pearson and Lane came up with her current unique “do” through trial and error.

“We found this hairstyle,” Pearson said. “I like to be bold. I’ve tried different colors over time.”

She now favors a short, spiked cut with blonde and red highlights.

The long drive is no problem, she noted, because she has family in Red Wing to visit while in town for a haircut. Most of them also patronize Hair with Pizazz.

Lane is still cutting her own kids’ hair as well, along with husband Scott’s hair, and that of her five grandchildren and other relatives.

But it’s not a chore. “I love it,” she said. “I still love my job — because of the people,” including the other stylists, some of whom have been with her since she started the business.

Most of all, she has developed relationships with many of the people who come to her every couple of months because no one else will “do” their hair the way she does.

“They start out as clients,” Lane explained, “then they become like family.”

This story originally appeared in part 1 of the 2014 Red Wing Republican Eagle Progress Edition, titled Start to Finish. The three-part series features local businesses, artisans and community groups describing their step-by-step processes.