WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — When Ashley Lee first got the urge to open her own hair salon seven years ago, she decided to speak with Westborough's Phil Evangelous about when he was planning to retire.
Earlier this year, Westborough's legendary barber finally did call it quits, and he offered to sell his space to Lee, where she now operates West Main Hair.
"I stopped by every year and suddenly he called me two months ago," Lee said. "He said 'are you still interested in the place?' and I said 'Yeah, I've been waiting seven years.' "
Lee, originally from Seoul, South Korea, said she has been in the hair industry for 16 years. She went to hair styling school in South Korea before moving to Japan to continue her career.
After moving to San Antonio, Texas in 2004, she moved to Framingham, where she has been ever since. She said she's been cutting hair in a studio at the Natick Mall and looking around for spaces to open her own studio.
"I wanted a small space and I wanted to work alone. I didn't want to hire anyone," Lee said, emphasizing that she really liked the small shop's "cozy" atmosphere.
"I didn't want a big space, especially with the economy right now."
The shop that once was wall-to-wall with children's toys, books and pictures is now unrecognizable, but Lee said she plans to add toys for the kids. Her refitting, which included new walls and a hardwood floor, cost about $10,000.
"I need to add some more posters and decorations still," Lee said, noting she's considering a customer's suggestion that she change the name to "West Main Hair by Ashley."
After her Tuesday opening, Lee said the foot traffic has been a bit slow, but she expects it to pick up. She said she hopes the familiar location and high level of traffic in the area will help her drum up business, while also hoping some of Evangelous' customers continue to frequent the spot.
"I want to keep some of Phil's customers, not 100 percent, but maybe 50 percent," Lee said.
"I really do appreciate all of the nice customers — the loyal customers."
Lee said she acknowledges her salon is different than its predecessor's version. Where Evangelous specialized in traditional barber shop cuts, Lee will specialize in perms and coloring, both American and international styles, while also offering men's cuts.
"All businesses starting are slow," Lee said. "Right now, I'm 100 percent satisfied."