ENTERPRISE — There’s a new hair stylist in Enterprise, now that Michael Ferrell has opened Michael’s on Main.
“If you’re a woman, you have a hairdresser in this area. I’m just going to say that I’m coming in here to join the show already in progress with all the regular, talented hairdressers who are already here,” Ferrell said during an interview Wednesday, Feb. 16. “I’ve been told that Enterprise and Wallowa County has a real need for another salon. People are booked up way out and they can’t get an appointment. So, enters me, stage left.”
He does everything
Primarily specializing in hair color, Ferrell feels he has a real knack for beauty.
“It’s easy for me to make women pretty — and then they hand me money,” he laughed, describing his talent as a “gift.”
But it’s the primarily natural colors that he specializes in.
“I’ve got $5,000 worth of color waiting to be put on someone’s head,” he said. “I do beautiful cuts, too, but I’m a colorist. You need to do cuts, too. I used to work for several color companies and did platform work for them.”
And he doesn’t go cheap on the colors he uses.
“My color job is to look as natural as possible,” he said. “I use the most expensive color I can buy. It really is Italian color. It’s $10 a tube (for 4 ounces). ... I can run circles around anybody with that color.”
He said the COVID-19 pandemic, which was particularly hard on businesses such as his, made some real changes in the beauty industry.
“COVID has changed the face of everything. COVID has taught women, No. 1, that they can do it themselves,” Ferrell said. “We, as hairdressers, basically kept this lie going for a long time that if you even touched your hair, it would turn green and fall out.”
Calling himself primarily a salon owner, Ferrell does the full range of beautification.
“I’m a manicurist, a cosmetologist, a makeup artist, a hairdresser, barber, you name what you can be and I’ve got a license for it,” he said.
Decades of experience
“I started doing hair in 1973 — almost 50 years,” he said.
Ferrell said he got into hair styling when a friend said, “Let’s start a hair salon. It’ll be a kick.
“I walked into those hallowed halls of the first beauty school I went to and I never looked back.”
That was Phagans School of Hair Design in the Portland area, where he also used to teach.
In addition to the Portland area, where he had five different salons, he also worked in California and Hawaii.
“I also had an offer to go to Amsterdam, but I turned that down,” he said.
He also was a headliner at the Northwest Women’s Show.
There, he told clients, “I don’t do kids. I don’t do trims and I get to do what I want. If that’s OK with you, come on down.”
There was a certain amount of salesmanship that went along with his work at such a show.
“You imply that the color is why the model looks so fabulous, but she looked fabulous before,” he said.
He sees his latest venture at 314 Main St. as a bit of a bookend to his first salon.
“Ironically, my first salon was Michael’s on Main (in Tigard, a suburb of Portland) and now this is what will likely be my last salon and it’s Michael’s on Main,” he said.
His new shop has quite a display of items in the front window, so much so that they have misled passersby.
“That kind of backfired on me,” Ferrell said. “I put them in here to attract attention to the business and all it did was attract attention to the artifacts. Everyone thinks I’m opening up a curio store. … They come in and say, ‘That little piece there, how much?’ I was told to give them a price,” but he doesn’t sell them.
Deep roots here
Ferrell is far from new to Enterprise.
“I was pretty much raised here,” he said. “I got my first driver’s license at the courthouse.”
His family here spans generations.
“Grandma homesteaded here. Mom was one of the original ‘49ers at the first Chief Joseph Days Parade,” he said. “So this is my home. I went away to ‘sow my wild oats and seek my fortune,’ so I came back to take care of Mama. She said, ‘I want to go home.’ When your 90-year-old mother says she wants to go home, you take her home, which was her house in Wallowa.”
His mother, Diane Sweek, lives with her husband, Harvey Sweek, in Wallowa. Ferrell lives on the 360-acre ranch her mother homesteaded off Dunham Road north of Enterprise. He said his grandmother willed the ranch to her children and his mother successfully bought the shares of her siblings. Another farmer sublets it now, but Ferrell plans to keep horses there in the future and appreciates the value of it.
“It’s a 360-acre ranch with one of the oldest springs in the area,” he said.
Ferrell doesn’t plan to spend all his time at the salon, hoping to be on the homestead.
“My sister says I’d better have good access to back braces for when you break your back at 68 years old,” he joked.
Ferrell may have roots here, but Michael’s on Main is his first business venture in the county and he sees it as a way to get reintegrated with his hometown.
“It’s been a wonderful gig; I thought I was going to come here and be done, but after sitting up on Dunham Road for a year, I thought, ‘This ain’t cutting it; I’m not meeting new people.’ So now I’m meeting all kinds of fun people,” he said. “I’m not trying to prove anything. I’m not trying to burn down Enterprise. I’ve had five separate salons in Portland. All were great.”