RICHFORD — A hair salon owner, part-time fitness instructor and grandmother, Rossie Charron, 49, never felt like she had to choose between a career and having a family.
A multi-generational Vermonter, Charron grew up in Richford with six other siblings. Her mom stayed at home to watch over the kids while her dad spent his days as a sheet metal worker.
Charron learned from an early age that family was her number one priority.
“We didn’t always have the best of everything, but we had what we needed,” Charron remembered. “We were brought up like, your family comes first and you never turn your back on your family no matter what anybody’s imperfections are. You’re supportive of one another.”
“My dad always used to say, ‘We might not have much, but we were rich in skin,’” Charron said.
Charron adopted that mindset when she went on to have her own children. That’s how I feel with my family,” she said. “I don’t feel like we’ve got a whole lot, but we have what we need and that’s the love of our family. Everyone’s really close.”
“My kids and my grandkids are everything,” Charron said. “I’ve been lucky through the years to do what I do to raise my kids cause when they had school functions or whatever, I would just schedule around it. I didn’t have to miss everything.”
Cutting hair for 33 years, Charron has owned a salon for 30 of those. Although she went to school for hairdressing at Vermont College of Cosmetology, Charron traces back the love of cutting hair to her childhood days.
“When I was in school, I was always cutting people’s hair,” Charron said. “I can remember my Home Economics teacher… She would let me go in and bring my scissors and cut the kids’ hair.”
Charron would also tag along when her brothers went to the barbers shop for their annual trim. “I’d go and just sit there and watch,” she said, and assess what she was doing well and the areas she could improve on. “There’s definitely an art to hair.”
After graduating from cosmetology school, Charron tried working for a year at an upscale salon in St. Albans, but it wasn’t a good fit. “I just didn’t think I was cut out for it,” she said. “I didn’t feel almost like I was good enough to be there.”
Then one night, after taking a two-week hiatus from the salon, she got a call from a hairdresser in Richford who offered Charron a position. “I took the job with her and it was like night and day,” she said.
Looking back, Charron said the phone call was a pivotal moment in her life. “I almost didn’t stay in it,” she said. “I don’t look at it like that was a coincidence. I believe everything happens for a reason and that phone call [the hairdresser] made was… it was meant to be.”
Charron has found in her years of hairdressing that her profession is so much more than cutting hair and making people feel good.
“The people that I’ve met throughout the years and that have stuck with me,” Charron said, “I’ve just heard different things that are going on in their families and just get really close to all of the people.”
“You just feel like everyone’s going through something,” she said. “Sometimes just listening to people, that’s all they need to get it off their chest.”
Making connections with people is the same reason why Charron has loved teaching a variety of aerobic classes at the local senior center for the last three years. She leads Pilates, Barre, Zumba and more to seniors between the ages of 50 all the way up to the mid 80s.
“It’s such a good group of people,” Charron said. “They make my day.”
“My great grandparents were a huge part of my life,” she said. Growing up on the outskirts of town, whenever she or her siblings had a sporting event to attend, they would spend the night with their grandparents who lived closer to the schools.
“I was used to being around older people,” Charron said. “To me now, I just feel like I’m getting that back again.”
Charron describes the seniors as a lively group of people.
“They’re active,” she said. “They’re seniors that know the importance of diet and exercise… They want to improve the quality of their life.”
“The group, when I first started it, was so quiet,” she continued. “You could hear a pin drop. Now I have to interrupt to start class because they’re all talking. It’s become a real tight knit group.”
Charron said she feels like she is getting as much out of the classes as they are.
“When people will come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I’m not taking this medication anymore. I feel so much better. My doctor says I don’t have to take it,’” she said. “Or I had this one man tell me that he can reach a cupboard that he wasn’t able to reach and I’m thinking, ‘A cupboard? That’s so little.’ But to him, it’s huge.”
“Just knowing you can make a difference in their day, just a little bit, to me makes me feel like I want to keep doing it,” Charron said.
Charron said she really likes the connection between cutting hair and leading fitness classes. “I feel like when I’m doing hair, I’m making people feel good about themselves on the outside,” she said. “Fitness is more on the inside. If you feel good, you’re going to look good.”
“That’s the best part of my job,” she continued, “is making people feel better about themselves, making a difference in their day.”
“Some people come in here and aren’t in a good place and then they leave and say, ’Oh, you just made me feel better,’” Charron said. “They are just more confident in themselves to take on whatever they’re dealing with.”
Instead of feeling proud of all she has been able to accomplish, Charron immediately attributed the majority of her success to the support of her husband. “I couldn’t do any of this without my husband,” she said. “He’s the backbone of everything I do.”
High school sweethearts, Charron and her husband, Reme, met when they were 15 and 16 respectively. “He was my first boyfriend,” she said.
“I can always remember thinking that I wanted to find someone like my grandma did,” Charron said.
“I just feel like I’ve been blessed to have him in my life,” she continued. “He’s like my rock. I know I wouldn’t be able to do all I do if it wasn’t for him.”
Charron said if one were to ask anybody about Reme, they would say he has such a big heart and would help anybody. And he did just that, building not one, but two salons for Charron as they moved around the county over the years.
He is also known to help her rearrange equipment and help set up the senior center for Charron’s fitness classes.
Looking back over the last thirty years, Charron said she wished she would’ve recognized how much she likes interacting with people and learning about their lives sooner.
She said it took a while for her to realize that its okay to be different and do your own thing, as long as you love it.
All in all, Charron said she just feels blessed.
“I’ve been blessed to have work that I love to do,” Charron said. “That’s been huge for me.”
Editor’s Note: This story is one in a series profiling women from around the region. To suggest future profiles email Elaine Ezerins at Elaine@samessenger.com or call 524-9771 x. 112.