I’m instantly hit with a wave of nostalgia and the smell of hairspray as soon as I open the doors to Classic Cut—a small hair salon in Attalla, Alabama where I grew up getting my haircut alongside my mother and grandmother. Much of it is still the same. The gravel road leading up to the building and the horse pasture right off to the side. The two salon chairs, the shelf of hairstyle magazines, and the paper calendar on the wall next to the corded phone. Even the candy bowl of suckers hidden on top of the refrigerator.

Teresa Ledbetter, owner and sole stylist of Classic Cut has been cutting hair since she was 22 years old in 1977. But she actually got into the hair business by accident. “I had been laid off and my sister-in-law at the time was enrolling in beauty school and talked me into going with her,” Teresa explains. And the people of Attalla and all of Etowah County have been blessed by that accident.

Although Etowah County is the smallest county in Alabama according to square mile, it is one of the most densely populated and said to be full of good people and growing opportunities. “I wish people knew that Attalla and Etowah County are small but have wonderful people as well as great opportunities for anything they might want to pursue,” Teresa states.

Teresa herself embodies this sentiment. In addition to being a hairstylist, she is also a travel agent. “I started doing travel in 1997 by accident as well. I could always find a better deal than my travel agent. I started finding deals for my clients in the shop. I had a chance to start working with an agency as an outside sales agent and eventually went out on my own in 2010.” Now, she’s known in the area as someone to call when they want a great deal on a local haircut or an international destination.

Classic Cut is a testament to the hard-working, entrepreneurial spirit, and deep-seated sense of family found in rural parts of the state. It’s not driven by glitz and glamour but by community and consistency. There is no flashy neon sight out front, but there is someone who cares more about how your family is doing than the transaction you are making.

With Teresa, something as simple as a haircut often feels more like a family reunion than a spa day. And the feeling goes both ways. “God blessed me with great clients who became my family. Some families I’m on their fifth generation,” Teresa beams. “That’s amazing in itself.”

When booking an appointment at Classic Cut, you get more than just a haircut. You get a friendship. Someone who asks about your family and shares her favorite recipes with you. Someone who gets graduation invitations and Christmas card photos from her customers and who gives Christmas presents to all her clients.

When I called her to set up an appointment, she instantly knew my voice, even though it had been several years since I had visited her. Moving to two states forced me to go through the unfortunate endeavor of finding someone new to cut my hair. I had been visiting Teresa near Gadsden for most of my hair journey. After my very first haircut at the hands of a harsh stylist, my next experience was in Teresa’s comfortable care. She was patient and gentle as I sat in her chair. And while my mom, grandmother, and aunt got their haircuts, Teresa would give me carrots to feed to the horses or a little sucker treat for myself.

Now, as I walk into Classic Cut with my daughter, a fourth-generation client, I get to introduce her to what has become a family tradition.