an exploration of urban identity in the middle of Texas
The Beauty Parlor is a salon that used to operate on the corner of East 12th and Cedar streets, and after six years, on August 22nd, it closed its doors because the building was sold. This is not a rare story these days in East Austin, and it is becoming more and more common. I wanted to talk to Michelle Moore, the owner of The Beauty Parlor, to know her impressions and thoughts about her moving.
“I worked in NorthCross Mall and other salons up North, but I always felt very passionate about coming back here because here is where I was raised and this is where the first black salons and black barbershops were located. Here I can offer the service to my community with the products they know and want… but now I have to leave, because the building has been sold. I am going back to north (Round Rock). Everything here on the east is too high, too much for me to afford. There are a couple more salons on the other ends of the street, and one of the original barbershops on this block, which building has been sold too. I am not sure about what plans are for this building, but I am almost sure they are going to take it down to build something else. I’m going to miss it here. It wasn’t my plan, I was planning on staying here. My hopes for the place was for me to getting a position where I could stay, but not being able to put all my money on the place, I knew there was a time coming where I had to leave, and that time has come…My mother told me years ago, when I was probably a teenager, that this was coming. And you know, being young I did not understand. When you are young you do not think about the future. But my mom and her brothers sold their house and the buyer was able to build four homes in that lot. They were told they were going to be affordable homes, but it turned out to be, they were not. So it is really pushing a lot of people out, specially north and surrounding areas of Austin.”
A few weeks before moving, Michelle heard about the plans the landlord had for the building. Because of this short notice, she did not plan ahead and even made an investment of money and time in renovations and some equipment a few months earlier.This renovations were only useful for a few weeks and are now going to leave with the building. Beautiful murals were painted outside the building by Austin artist Niz Graphics weeks before the moving, as a protest to economic changes that are forcing people to leave, and are stealing the identity of the area.
The main customers of Michelle used to be old friends, neighbors, and even old classmates from school. The closing of The Beauty Parlor is one more missing link in the network of friends and community that is currently vanishing in East Austin. The murals outside the building have been painted over, and inside there is only an empty space with a few splashes of light and pretty walls that are the ghost of The Beauty Parlor.
Amalia Díaz is a Colombian Biologist Ph.D., and photographer based in Austin since 2009. As a native from Bogotá, she finds the main source of her stories in urban environments, their people, and all the individual worlds that develop inside cities. Learn more about her work here.