Teresa Butler and Lisa Stanley are more like sisters than business partners.
The two charismatic women, who run Studio 121, a hair salon in Garner, finish each other’s sentences, kid one another constantly and have stuck together through many of life’s tough times, including breast cancer, divorce and being forced to move out of the place where they ran their original salon for more than 28 years.
In 1983, Stanley hired Butler at Stage Road Hairstyling, a tiny 500-square-foot shop near the corner of Ten Ten and Old Stage roads in Raleigh.
The two built a customer base of clients who turned into friends who stopped by to hear the latest gossip.
And until 2011, Stanley and Butler were a two-woman show, running a fun business of cutting hair at a place they considered home.
That year, their quaint little building on the two-lane road was sold, and the new owners asked the duo to leave.
“We were devastated,” said Butler, 48.
“We raised our children there; that was our home. The day we moved, we cried and cried.”
The pair eventually settled into a new shop in Raleigh, renting booths from the owner. However, the relationship was short-lived. Unhappy with the location, the women decided to move on after only nine months.
Butler and Stanley signed a new lease on another building and started a new venture in Studio 121, a salon in a strip mall on Garner’s Timber Drive.
The next day, Stanley was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She endured a double mastectomy and more than a year of treatments, including 18 weeks of chemotherapy. And her friend never left her side.
The women closed the store every Friday, chemo day, and went to treatments together.
“I sat through every chemo treatment,” Butler said.
Stanley stayed home on Mondays, the day she’d feel bad from the chemo, and Butler would step in, running the shop on her own. During treatment, Stanley worked part-time, going home to rest and then coming back to work.
“(Butler) really carried us for the first year,” said Stanley, 49.
Stanley eventually got better and went back to working full time.
Give and take
And like a friend, sister or partner would, Stanley has been there to support Butler too, offering her a home while she went through a divorce.
“I lived with (Stanley) when I got divorced for nine months,” Butler said.
“It was supposed to be six weeks,” Stanley replied, then whispered: “It was really supposed to be 10 days.”
The women took advantage of the new bigger shop to expand their sisterhood from two to a party of seven.
They hired a woman from their temporary spot, another from a different salon a few doors down and added the staff from Salon on Main, a downtown Garner salon that had closed.
The Salon on Main women have only been there a few weeks, but “fit in like an old shoe,” Stanley said.
So Stanley and Butler, friends, sisters, partners all these years, consider themselves blessed with all the shop has been through.
“We’re glad we’re here because now we have a big group of people,” Butler said.
“… We’re happy and we’re flourishing, and we’ve got lots of new friends.”