ST. ALBANS CITY –– With its high ceilings, marvelous checkerboard floors, and tall windows that let in tons of natural light, it’s no wonder Robin Lebel has operated her salon out of an historic railroad building in St. Albans for most of her career.

Robin is fast approaching her thirtieth anniversary in cosmetology, and for 19 of those years, she has happily been a railroad tenant.

“I love this building,” Robin said, while seated in the cozy waiting area at Robin’s Shear Designs, located on the first floor of the redbrick railroad property, at the corner of Federal and Lake streets. “It has an authentic feel.”

When Robin’s Shear Designs first moved to the railroad building, Robin had a staff of three. Today, five other stylists each rent a booth from her – a system she finds easier, because they can all set their own hours and prices.

The current stylists at Robin’s Shear Designs, including the owner, are: Jean Carpenter, Moira Quirion, Denise Lussier Pardee, Laurie Artus, and Lisa Root. Three of them – Robin, Denise and Jean – have almost a century’s worth of experience among them.

“We’re all like sisters,” Robin said.

Robin’s Shear Designs offers a complete line of services for hair – including cuts, colors and perms – for everyone in the family, from toddlers to seniors.

“Lots of times, we have entire families come in together,” Robin said. “And we have lots of regulars. They’re comfortable, here.”

Manicures and pedicures are also on the menu at Robin’s Shear Designs, and products are available. The staff at Robin’s Shear Designs is also available for special occasions, such as wedding, and they will travel off-site upon request.

Robin has seen lots of changes in trends and technology since she first graduated from the Vermont College of Cosmetology in the mid-1980s. She still enjoys most what she enjoyed most back then: the people she serves.

“They’re not my clients,” she said. “They’re my friends.”

Always artistic – she also draws, paints and pursues personal culinary arts in the kitchen – Robin knew early on in life that she had natural skills as a hair stylist. The evidence was in her hairless Barbie dolls – “I was always cutting and styling them!” – and her desire to always practice on her friends.

“It’s just always what I wanted to do,” Robin said.

Robin graduated from Missisquoi Valley Union High School in 1984 and took a year off before she enrolled in cosmetology school. She started her career at Guy’s Unisex Salon, in St. Albans, for about four years, before she opened her own salon.

Robin wants to keep new clients coming in her door, while keeping prices affordable for her longtime regulars, but she will not retire from the industry.

“I will die doing hair,” she said.