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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 26, 2008

A natural transition: McQuate happily runs homegrown barbershop

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Pamala McQuate has returned to her roots.

“I specialized in color correction,” she said of her 15 years as a hair-coloring expert.  “When I got sick at the age of 32… it was from snorting coal tar chemicals all day.”

At that point, she left her job as a platform artist, showing beauticians how to use products at hair shows, and opened up shop in a little storefront next to A Phillips Hardware just outside of Altamont. 

McQuate remembered the joy of working as an apprentice in the barbershop where her father got his hair cut and decided to go that route, she said.  Her shop uses aftershave and talc that McQuate makes herself, she said. 

“It’s been done for 2,000 years,” she said of making grooming products.  “It’s no big trick.”

She charges $12, and $2 more with an appointment, for a haircut in what she calls a traditional barbershop, which will celebrate its two-year anniversary in September.  On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, McQuate and her two associates, Dina Roesch and Maria Mastriana, take customers from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; on Wednesdays, they are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and on Saturdays, they are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“It was hard to admit I was blind for that long,” McQuate said of her decade-and-a-half in the beauty industry.  After her doctor told her about her very high cholesterol and related problems, she looked into possible causes and said, “Being an expert in hair dye… it’s not hard to figure out once you open the chemistry books.”

Now she makes it a point to inform others about the ingredients in commercially available hair and beauty products and says that she’s “happier than happy can be” in her homegrown barber shop.

“Cleopatra was the most beautiful woman in the world,” McQuate said, “and she didn’t need coal tar to do it.”

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