Betty Dee Black was born in 1934 in Strathroy. She grew up on a farm with her parents, twin brother, and two older sisters. “We were ‘outhouse, hen house and school house’ kids. In the mornings, we used the outhouse, collected the eggs from the hen house and then ran to the school house.” Growing up, Black always enjoyed styling her sisters’ hair. After high school, she decided to go to study hairdressing in Toronto. “I remember the owner telling me, ‘The more you work in this school, the more you will know when you leave, then you will never need another job.’ He wasn’t wrong.”

Black moved to Sarnia and began working as a hairdresser. In 1958, she rented the home of Mme. Hayette, a hairstylist who was planning to return to France to be with family as she battled cancer. Black, who was pregnant with her fourth child, rented the house and ran the in-home beauty salon with a plan to purchase it. “I worked day and night to buy that house and business. I remortgaged several times to educate my children or to get me through a disaster. I’ve never had a lot of money left over, but I’ve always had equity in where I lived.”

It was through her connection to Mme. Hayette that Black became involved with the Sarnia-Lambton branch of the Canadian Cancer Society. “I began to take lessons and learn about wig-making. I did a lot of research in order to help people with medically-related hair loss.” Black and her friend Emily Brill created hair pieces together. “Emily designed the wigs and I found the hair. A lot of it came from people that had cut their hair in a bob and kept their hair in cedar chests. We would make wigs from it. It was a lot of trial and error, but we were a good team.”

In 1967, Black purchased a beauty salon on the corner of Cromwell and Christina. “It was a newly-renovated salon and absolutely beautiful.” The hair salon was on the main floor, a barber shop was on the top floor, and the wig shop was located in the basement. Over the years, the interior went through several renovations as decor and styles changed. “I put everything I had into buying that building and I stayed there until 2017, when I sold the building to my daughter, who opened Silhouettes.”

When not in the salon, Black can be found hiking throughout North America. She has completed four long-distance fundraising hikes. Her first hike, in 1992, was inspired by one of her clients who had leukemia, and took her to Florida with her parrot, Sam McGee, on her shoulder. Black has retired several times, but continues to sell medically-related hair loss wigs from her home. “It’s difficult to go looking for a wig when you are sick. My clients feel comfortable here and I want them to have the best experience in a difficult time.”