Traces Salon: Where Beauty Builds Community

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

When Tracy Smith was on the girls’ softball team at Lexington High in Lauderdale County, one of her “jobs” was to do the hair of the team members before their games. “I got my arms warmed up before the game by braiding everyone’s hair,” she said. She went on to say, “I taught myself, and everyone wanted me to do their hair. Sometimes I would have to say, ‘I’ll be right there; I am almost done!’ and then run onto the field at the last minute,” she told me with a laugh. The team looked good, and they played well. As unusual as it sounds, one of the things that unified them was their hair. As soon as she graduated high school, Tracy went to beauty school. She attended Ray’s University of Beauty in 1990, and she was on her way. For the last 34 years, even when Tracy was in other career fields, she did hair because she loves to.

Tracy has always loved technology, and for a time she was involved in managing three Sprint locations. Later, she went in to banking, dealt with annuities and loans; yet hair always was her first love. By 2019, she had owned two salons, and then weathered the pandemic. It was her husband, Brian, who told her, “You are built for bigger things,” and he encouraged her to open her current place, which is located at 15700 East Limestone Road, right across from East Limestone High School.

Tracy has gone on to get her instructor’s certification, and wanted to empower and mentor other women, especially younger ones who have just gotten out of cosmetology school. She has surrounded herself with a great crew, and recently I had the pleasure of hearing their stories one at a time at the shop.

First up was Lori Graham, who is Tracy’s personal assistant and is known as the “Shop Saver.” Lori helped Tracy open up the East Limestone shop, and has stayed because she loves it. She greets clients, takes payments, makes appointments, and is the all-around “Gal Friday.” She is NOT a hairdresser. However, she is a raving fan of Tracy’s work, and Tracy has been Lori’s hairdresser for a good while. I asked Lori why she enjoys working at Traces Salon, and she said, “I love being out and about, making connections and relationships.” The relationship theme was one that came up often during the course of the rest of the interview with the other stylists, as well as the massage therapist.

Next was Kaitlynn Gooch. Kaitlynn is a newlywed and a former salon owner with eleven years of experience. She started her training during her high school years at the Limestone County Technical Center and graduated at the top of her class. She won gold medals in hair styling competitions, and said with a smile, “Hard work pays off.” She went on to tell me, “I love the art of coloring hair. I love color theory, color formula, everything that has to do with it.” She also loves working for Tracy, and is quick to say how much laughter ringing through the shop brings relief to everyone.

Hanna Hunter is 23, and has had five years of experience. She said, “We work like family, and it is such a blessing to feel appreciated.” Hanna says she feels that “Hair is a mission field. I want to minister and be a shining light.” Hanna’s favorite things to do are cutting hair and doing highlights. She loves the homey waiting area, which she says feels like her home away from home. And like the others, she is grateful for being greeted warmly when she walks through the door, and having such a strong sense of community with the rest of the staff.

Rounding out our time together was Jennifer Krieger, who is the massage therapist. For many years Jennifer was living in Colorado with her husband as he served in the Army with the 10th Mountain.

Division out of Ft. Carson. When he retired, they came back to Alabama. She came to Traces Salon with Kaitlynn, and told me that she gets a great sense of satisfaction out of “helping people and making them feel better.” She does all types of massage, including pre-natal, and has ten years of experience under her belt. She does massage therapy by appointment only, and works Wednesdays through Saturdays.

I watched for a while as Tracy’s team took care of clients, and it was a joy to watch people who clearly love their work, know what they are doing, and enjoy the community they have built at Traces Salon. Come join them, see what they have to offer, and experience how beauty can build strong community.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner