Ann calls time on village salon

Calling time after a combined 100 years to hairdressing in Portree – Anne Jagger and Marion MacDonald are hanging up their scissors. PHOTO: Willie Urquhart

A Portree hairdresser has turned the ‘closed’ sign on her salon door after more than half a century in the village.

Ann Jagger, owner of Margaret Ann’s in Wentworth Street, has clipped, combed, cut and coloured the hair of thousands of clients over her remarkable 58 years in the trade – as well as acting as a valued confidante.

But now, in the midst of a second enforced lockdown due to Covid restrictions, Ann has decided to call it a day and enjoy a well-earned retirement.

Ann began her long career in 1963, when she joined James Pringle’s hairdressing shop in Portree for a five-year apprenticeship, after leaving school at 17.

Keen to learn all aspects of the trade with a view to setting up her own business, Ann then studied at the L’Oreal hair studio in Glasgow and also the Wella colouring school in the city before moving back to her native Skye.

She opened her first salon at the harbour in Portree in 1968, moving to Wentworth Street 10 years later.

Over the years Ann has employed stylists from all over Skye, Scotland, England and even the other side of the world.

“An Australian girl who was on a gap year in Scotland saw the job advertised and got in touch with me,” said Ann. “I gave her a job and she stayed with me for three years before marrying a Highland chap.”

In the early years, it was “all rollers, no blow drys”, said Ann, and the vogue was curls and tight perms.

“Beehives were also very popular in the late 60s and early 70s and your hand was nearly falling off with all the backcombing! Then long hair was all the fashion and pinning it into coils on the top of the head. Oh my goodness, the work that used to go into doing that.”

But the biggest change Ann has witnessed in the trade over the years has been the switch to mobile hairdressing.

She said: “At one time I had four girls working for me and it was flat out, six days a week, but now there are far fewer salons and it’s all mobile hairdressing, going to clients’ homes and with none of the overheads involved with a shop. I’m not criticising it. It’s just a different way of working.

“I’ve loved the humour and the fun of the job and the people who supported me. You were told many things in confidence as a hairdresser and that’s the way it had to stay. You heard things that nobody else would hear.”

Among the memorable moments from her working life are turning a client’s hair green.

Ann recalled: “When I was working at Pringle’s a customer came in and wanted a colour, but what they didn’t tell me was that they had put something on their hair previously. When I applied the colour there was a chemical reaction and their hair turned green!”

Although she still runs the business, Ann bowed out of day to day hairdressing several years ago and the styling has been done by loyal employee Marion MacDonald from Portree, who has been with Ann for 48 years.

“When we had to close again because of lockdown in January we decided it was time to stop,” said Ann. “I will miss having the shop and was sad to take the decision, but I hope we have provided a good service to the community over the years.”

Retirement will find Ann on Sconser Golf Course. “I just want to play a nice little round of nine holes”, she said.