Who is Ella Dean?
In the 1940s, my great-grandparents Benjamin and Mary "Rose" Dean moved from Birmingham, Alabama to Portland, Oregon. Benjamin started working in the shipyards while Rose would cut hair in their kitchen. Eventually, they both decided to get their barber and cosmetology license, and together they opened Dean's Beauty Salon & Barbershop in 1954, located on 215 NE Hancock St.
Their oldest daughter, my grandmother, Gloria 'Ella' Dean, started helping out at the salon in 1960 and worked alongside her parents. Among citizens in Portland, Oregon, Gloria was a well-established business owner; like her parents, she continued to maintain their positive reputation and phenomenal legacy.
I created Ella Dean to represent my grandparents and the family business. I never had the opportunity to meet Rose but according to my family members, my personality is similar to hers. Rose was gracious, graceful, and compassionate.
As for Gloria, my grandmother means everything to me. In a sense, my personality resembles hers as well; I am practical, shy, and empathic. I loved watching my grandmother style her client's hair; I wanted to be a beautician but I took a different route instead. After I received my Marketing degree, I realized I wanted to create a natural haircare brand and dedicate it to my grandparents and the family business; my future was right in front of me the whole time.
Thanks to my grandparents, Dean's Beauty Salon & Barbershop, a Black-owned business, has been established for over 60 years and still counting. As their granddaughter, it is my job to ensure their legacy never fades.
Thank you grandma for teaching me how to be a strong, successful Black woman like yourself. No one compares. I love you.
Dean's Beauty Salon & Barbershop has also been featured in The Oregon Historical Society Museum. Stop by the salon to get your beautiful tresses styled; as my great-grandmother would say to her clients, "Let's get beautified!".