Bayside Beauty Salon celebrates 50 years of styling Blaine


Bayside Beauty Salon is celebrating its 50th anniversary this August after a half-century of styling Blaine residents’ hair.
Judy Dunster, owner of Bayside Beauty Salon, never planned on owning a salon. Though she wanted to become a hairdresser since fourth grade, it seemed that plan would never come to fruition.
Like trends in hairstyles and colors, the outlook of the hair industry is ever-changing. Dunster said being a hairdresser was looked down upon when she was younger because it was considered a last resort career in a transient industry.
“Probably about the seventh or eighth grade, teachers start asking you what you want to do with your life. I would say, ‘I want to be a hairdresser,’” said Dunster, recalling her Blaine Middle School days. “They would tell me, ‘No, no, you can’t do that.’ I was one of the top students in my class and they said, ‘You’ve got too much on the ball.’”
Dunster left her dream on the back burner, and enrolled at Washington State University with the goal of becoming either a librarian or clinical psychologist.
Months before Dunster left her hometown of Blaine, she met her husband, Gary. Throughout her first year attending WSU, Dunster and Gary communicated through letters and phone calls. They married the following summer.
Gary wanted to start saving as soon as they married but Dunster only had a year of university classes under her belt, with no training or job offers. With the support of her family and a loving push from her husband, Dunster revisited her hairdresser dream. She worked at a salon in B.C. for two years before being hired at Dohner Salon on Peace Portal Drive, requiring her to make the drive from New Westminster, B.C. to Blaine every shift.
Dunster received a call one day from the owner, Virginia Dohner, asking Dunster to stay after work. “I was quite nervous. I figured I’d done something wrong,” she chuckled as she reminisced. “She said, ‘How would you like to buy this place?’ It knocked me over with a feather.’”
Dunster took on the challenge of being a business owner but said it was not easy to purchase the salon at 25 years old.
“We started going to banks in Whatcom County, and we actually had a banker in Ferndale laugh at us. Being a young couple, it was very, very hard to take,” she said.
Unable to obtain the full amount, Dunster went to tell the Dohners. When she broke the news, Denny, the Dohners’ son and Dunster’s old classmate, convinced his parents to give Dunster and Gary a chance. Denny, a successful fisherman, cited Blaine Marina Inc. founder Harold “Bud” Dodd as the reason Denny had his boat.
“The Dohners were so supportive. They believed in me,” Dunster said. “They were big shoes to follow. And then my husband couldn’t be any more supportive.”
Dunster, Gary and their two young children moved from Canada to Blaine and opened Bayside Beauty Salon on August 1, 1972.
“To watch the progression of the industry in the last 50 years has been pretty amazing,” she said. “I love the variety that’s available in the industry.”
Dunster has seen styles and colors come and go throughout the years, and keeping up with it and learning new tricks is something that excites her the most.
“One thing that I really believe in, and I always try to instill in anyone who works for me, is that the more tools you have in your bag of tricks, the better off you are,” Dunster said.
When perms became all the rage in the ’70s and ’80s, Dunster learned to create looks with different sized and shaped rods. When hot irons became popular, she learned how to incorporate them into styling. She learned to braid. She watched the rare pastel-colored hair become a frequent trend, as well as vibrant hair colors.
Styling hair filled up Dunster’s books from sunup to sundown, especially on holidays, she recounted.
“You’d go home, and your arms would feel like they were going to blow off,” she said. “Then as styles progressed, women started coming in more for haircuts and perms and colors, and then they would style their hair at home.”
As trends changed, Dunster noticed weekly stylings with clients became maintenance appointments every couple of months.
Dunster said there is more to the job than just hair – it was also about the connections she made along the way.
During her 50 years, Dunster has had over 20 employees. The first five employees and Dunster still meet every couple of years, naming themselves the ‘Bayside Gals.’ Dunster has also grown clientele who have stayed with her for a half-century.
“I love working with hair. It’s an amazing medium and an art form,” Dunster said.
She has forgone previous retirement dates because of her love for the job and clients.
“I’ve set two retirement days. One was my 75th birthday; that was the end of March. The next one was going to be when I owned the salon for 50 years; that was the 1st of August,” Dunster said. “I have passed both of those and have no further dates for retirement. I figured that as long as my clients continue to enjoy what I do with their hair, and as long as I love doing their hair, and I’m physically able, I’ll be here.”

This article was updated August 24 to correct a misspelled name. We regret the error.


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