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Owner Debra Wilburn of Onyx Styling & Braiding Salon Monday, December 31, 2018, at 20 N. Earl Avenue in Lafayette. Wilburn is backward afterwards active Onyx for several years.(Photo: John Terhune/Journal & Courier)Buy Photo

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LAFAYETTE — There’s a brace of affidavit Debra Wilburn is accessible to retire afterwards a constant career as a hairstylist. One of them is YouTube.

Young girls can attending up hairstyles online and get a abounding tutorial in a few keystrokes. They’re not advancing into the salon as frequently as they acclimated to, Wilburn said.

Trends additionally change faster than anytime afore and candidly Wilburn isn’t absolutely absorbed in acquirements all of them. She takes pride in her abbreviate abate cuts but relies on her adolescent stylists at Onyx Styling & Braids Salon to do braids and dye jobs.

Over the advance of a about 40-year career Wilburn has accustomed the appearance crazes and cultural shifts.

“With all the new styles of wigs and weaves there’s no acumen for anyone to accept animal hair,” she said.

She’s captivated that it’s contemporary for African-American women to wear their beard accustomed and cut out relaxers, alike if it agency she sees them in the salon beneath often.

“We were consistently told that we accept to be accustomed by white bodies but now the ancestors are changing.” she said. “Back in the day we were fabricated to fit into a assertive affectionate of box. If you capital a job at Purdue you bigger not go in with that Afro. But now things accept changed, acknowledge God.”

When she and her husband, Darryl, confused from Gary to West Lafayette in 1982 they were both just accepting their bottom in the door — him at Purdue on the careful staff, her at the alternation beautician boutique Your Father’s Mustache as a stylist.

They were block the activity of belonging.

“In this blazon of association aloof accepting your own African-American atmosphere makes a difference,” Wilburn said. “It’s a activity back you appear from added places, which best African Americans are from about else, you feel at home back you come into a abode and you apprehend your music, you allocution your talk.”

Ten years passed and the charge for a salon that catered to African-American beard was still high, with alone one bounded salon available.

Having to biking to Gary or Indianapolis for account or bi-weekly beard accessories became a controlling agency for adolescent African-American professionals moving to Lafayette, Wilburn said.

“A lot of them acquaint us that if there’s not a atramentous stylist aural so abounding mile ambit that they wouldn’t appear to an area,” she said.

Wilburn absitively that she would become that safe anchorage in Lafayette.

Since 1996, Onyx Styling & Braiding salon has confused four times. At every area Darryl, who is now an electrician at Purdue, has been the right-hand man installing floors, acclimation base and and affective equipment. Accepting a able jack of all trades on accommodation adored Wilburn from anytime demography out a business loan.

“So abounding bodies are in debt because they’re aggravating to accord an angel to the world,” she said. “What I’ve abstruse is that I don’t charge marble floors, I don’t charge a adorned fountain. All I charge is a apple-pie salon, a armchair and a bore to do what I charge to do. That’s all that matters.”

Wilburn is a close accepter that above her own adamantine work, Onyx’s success can be attributed to some divine action as well.

The salon doesn’t acquaint for audience or stylists, both aloof assume to acquisition Onyx through chat of mouth.

“I’m a Christian so I adjure to God to accelerate us what we need,” Wilburn said. “Every babe who has anytime formed in our salon aloof came by way of the Holy Spirit.”

The aforementioned goes for competition.

Lafayette is a baby abundant boondocks that if addition says they’re aggravating to bend out Wilburn and booty her acme she hears about it. But it absolutely doesn’t appearance her.

“What God has for me is for me,” she said. “It doesn’t amount who you are, it doesn’t amount how abundant bigger you can do beard than me. I aloof apperceive I do what I do and that’s all that matters.”

Debra Wilburn talks with Tenecia Waddell as she styles her beard October 10, 2015 at Onyx Styling & Braiding Salon, 20 N. Earl Ave. in Lafayette. (Photo: John Terhune/Journal & Courier )

Her barter are loyal and they allotment a band with Wilburn and the agents that is commensurable to family.

Tenecia Waddell first came to the salon back she was still a apprentice at Lafayette Jeff. Since again she’s aggregate the acquaintance of career changes, able accomplishments and new relationships with Wilburn. 

“So abounding activity events, one affair has been consistent, Debra Wilburn, abaft the scenes authoritative me feel abundant and assured about actuality present for these assorted activity anniversary as she has done for bags of women,” Waddell said. 

It’s those criterion moments that will be the hardest for Wilburn to leave abaft in her retirement.

She adventures about all the times she asked Jamia, affectionately alleged Baby J, what the latest argot was. Most recently, she capital to apperceive why millennials were anecdotic themselves as “so weak” back announcement a funny meme.

She action back she tells the adventure about her co-owner Felicia going into activity appropriate there in the salon.

She’ll absence the Fridays back anybody was active but would booty break to advise anniversary added band dances.

Or the weekends they would bang actuality music and addition would advance an ad-lib prayer.

“It’s a association added than aloof a salon,” she said.

The salon will break accessible but Wilburn insists she’s ready to move on. She’s alive with her son and accomplishing accessible relations for his business aloof bottomward the road, Premier Auto Detailing.

She says she’ll alone appointment occasionally — that she’s absolutely done, her anxiety can’t booty another shift — but alike as she sits and reminisces, aloof a few canicule into retirement, she can’t advice but apprehension a ablaze ball is out. She stops mid-sentence and turns to Darryl and asks him to fix it. 

The Onyx is home, afterwards all.

Contact Journal & Courier anchorman Lindsay Moore at 765-420-5205, [email protected] and chase her on Twitter: @_lindsaymoore.

Read or Allotment this story: https://www.jconline.com/story/news/2019/01/04/onyx-salon-owner-retires-after-40-years-styling-african-american-hair/2462526002/

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