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Businessman, granddaughter share stylish background

Danielle Swain, who graduated Saturday from Aveda Institute St. Petersburg, hugs her grandfather Eddie Dunn at his shop, Eddie Dunn Hair Systems. The graduate of Sunstate Barber College in 1968 didn’t know Swain was studying cosmetology.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Danielle Swain, who graduated Saturday from Aveda Institute St. Petersburg, hugs her grandfather Eddie Dunn at his shop, Eddie Dunn Hair Systems. The graduate of Sunstate Barber College in 1968 didn’t know Swain was studying cosmetology.

ST. PETERSBURG

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Forty-five years ago, as Eddie Dunn was days away from his graduation at the Sunstate Barber College in Largo, a reporter and photographer from the Evening Independent sought out the latest trends in women's hair.

This was in January 1968, long before anyone had coined the terms metrosexual and manscaping.

They happened upon Dunn, who took a step beyond traditional barbering, applying gel to his clients' hair, using a blow dryer, coaxing the hair into a flattering shape, spraying it to keep the style in place.

He didn't much approve of working on "long-haired hippies," he said at the time. Most of his customers were bankers, clergymen, doctors and lawyers, professionals who liked their hair clipped to between 2 and 2½ inches.

"How do men react to their first hair styling?" the Independent story read. "Most of them are embarrassed. … But after a few visits, they become accustomed and it seems as natural as the morning shave."

For a little more than a decade, Dunn worked in several elite St. Petersburg shops that also offered services such as manicures and shoe shines.

He had been hearing about hair replacement, and one of his clients paid for him to get special training in nonsurgical techniques. In the early 1980s, he went out on his own, opening Eddie Dunn Hair Systems on Fourth Street N.

"I can shoot the bull better than I can cut hair," he jokes. A handful of prominent patrons continue to rely on Dunn for haircuts and styling, even though the better part of his business involves fitting people with hairpieces that attach to the scalp with a long-lasting adhesive.

That's where his granddaughter Danielle Swain comes in. She and Dunn share a Jan. 7 birthday. (He will be 70 on Monday; she, 22.)

And on Saturday, 45 years and a day after her grandfather finished barber school, Swain graduated from the Aveda Institute St. Petersburg, where she learned cosmetology, including cutting, styling and coloring hair.

The onetime St. Petersburg College student had changed her major a few times. She thought about nursing and later studied business.

"I would always do my friends' hair," she says. "I realized I should do something I love and get paid for it."

At first, Dunn says, he didn't know she had enrolled in Aveda, "as close as we are."

Now, he is hopeful that she, too, will study hair-replacement techniques and join him in the business, expanding it to serve women who have experienced permanent hair loss.

The custom-fitted hairpieces, Dunn says, offer more comfortable, natural-looking options than wigs. Those he recommends for women who are undergoing chemotherapy and may lose their hair only temporarily.

Dunn has no immediate plans to retire. When he does, he says, he'd like to hand his granddaughter the keys to the business.

Says Swain: "I think it's awesome that we have so many similarities."

Businessman, granddaughter share stylish background 01/05/13 [Last modified: Saturday, January 5, 2013 3:31am]
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