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Sanibel Beauty Salon celebrates 65 years

By Staff | Mar 23, 2016

Deena Gant and MaryAnne Banta. MEGHAN MCCOY

This Friday, Sanibel Beauty Salon will celebrate its 65th anniversary of “Sanibel’s first and finest to the newest and coolest” salon serving the community.

On March 25, 1951, Mary Aleck decided to open Sanibel Beauty Salon, despite not having all of her equipment, to honor Greek Independence Day. Although she opened the hair salon, it was not without an obstacle her husband helped her overcome by filing out court documents stating that she was competent to own a business.

Two hair stations and four hair dryers, which did not arrive for opening day, leaving clients sitting outdoors on sawhorses to dry their hair in the sun, were among the first pieces of equipment the salon had.

Aleck, who was from New Hampshire, initially became familiar with the island after following her love of shelling.

MaryAnne Banta, Aleck’s daughter, and current owner of the salon, said her mother built the Bailey’s Center, which is where the salon was originally located, to meet the Bailey family’s specifications. Six years ago, the salon moved to Palm Ridge Plaza, a location that provides great exposure.

Banta said when she saw the building she immediately began to envision what the space would look like – more modernized with better use of the square footage. She said it gave them a fresh new start.

“Through changes, we are going strong,” Banta said.

With Banta’s mother owning the salon, she was brought to work every day, slowly instilling a love for the business and people. She eventually began to sweep the salon and take rollers out of a client’s hair, earning her a nickel, dime, or a quarter, further igniting a passion.

With Banta’s uncle, Nick Kontinos, being the first principal of Sanibel Elementary School, she began going to school at the age of four. She did not run into any complications until she was ready to take her state board exam at the age of 16, an exam that required being 18 years of age and a high school graduate.

Despite the obstacle, Banta received her license at the age of 17, after her teacher fought for an early opportunity, as well as acing the exam. She worked for her mother for 16 years before buying the business 40 years ago.

Deena Gant followed in both her grandmother and mother’s footsteps, making her the third generation working at the salon. Just like her mother, Gant spent many hours at the salon growing up on the island where she became social and began to form a nice feeling for other people.

Ten years ago, she began working at the salon after attending beauty school and specializing in Brazilian Blowout and color. Gant also earned a braiding license at the age of 14.

“I’ve always been artistic,” she said, which she applied to hair. “You have to have an eye for angles and color.”

Gant, who specializes in color, said she enjoys sharing what she thinks would work well for her client.

“It’s fun getting to be creative,” she said.

The salon offers hair services for women and men, braids and wraps, color services, as well as services for pampered hands and feet. Other services include facial waxing, make-up application, temporary and permanent eyelashes and hair services for special occasions and bridal.

“It’s been great for my mom, great for me and for her,” Banta said smiling in her daughter’s direction.

For more information, visit www.SanibelBeautySalon.net, or call (239) 472-1111. The salon is located at 2330 Palm Ridge Road and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.