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Studio Mirage is no illusion: The name is Studio Mirage, but neither this salon’s family atmosphere nor its 20 years in business are a mirage.

Tammy Scott opened Studio Mirage in Waldorf 21 years ago this July.

She said the salon has turned out the way she envisioned it: a “Cheers” atmosphere where everyone knows everyone’s name.

“I kind of pride myself on being able to be that family-focused salon,” said Scott, 49, who has a daughter, 10, named Sage. “You know we want you to come, feel comfortable; we know who you are, we become connected, watch your kids grow up.”

All are welcome: Studio Mirage welcomes men, women and children of all ages. During the past 20 years, Scott’s salon has cut the hair of different members of the same family and different generations.

The salon’s name came from studio, a different word for salon, “And the mirage is just the whole sense of we can make you look any way you want to look, create any style you need,” Scott said.

She was 29 and working as a stylist in Charles County when she decided to open her own salon.

“I drove by Gateway Plaza every day on my way to work and saw a little location that was just screaming at me,” Scott said. “So I just on a whim decided to open my own place, and here we are.” She moved to the current location in the Old Line Shopping Center seven years ago in order to own instead of rent the building.

Her husband, Patrick, owns a construction business, S and S Renovation, and renovated the current space before the salon opened for business.

Staying small: Scott, who has sometimes had a business partner but currently owns and operates the salon alone, said that she and the other stylists have chosen to remain small but add services sometimes in order to survive the tough economic times.

She also credits the fact that she owns the building her business is in for helping it thrive during a recession. She manages to keep styling costs down to remain affordable for families.

Scott estimates that she has about 50 to 75 clients per day for nine stylists, including herself. She started with four or five stylists.

Scott began studying for her hairdressers license in high school in Herndon, Va., and completed it after graduation.

“It’s a different industry is all I can say to the average everyday job, but it gives us so much satisfaction in making people feel better, look better,” she said. Studio Mirage is a place for people to talk about their troubles and triumphs, but also forget their troubles if they need to.

A family tradition: Edward Sinnes, 22, of Waldorf came to Studio Mirage on a recent Wednesday to have Scott cut his hair before he boarded an environmental education ship to teach for four months.

He instructed Scott to cut his hair so that he wouldn’t need another haircut until he returns.

Sinnes and his family have been coming to Studio Mirage, Scott said, for at least a decade. During college, Sinnes and his brother would wait until they were home from school to have the stylists at Studio Mirage cut their hair.

Scott estimates that her salon’s clientele is about equally divided between the sexes.

Scott also mentors young people who are interested in becoming stylists.

“Tammy is a wonderful mentor,” said Shelby Clements, 21, who finished beauty school in the fall and has worked at Studio Mirage for two years. She said that working with Scott prepared her for beauty school.

Clements said that Scott’s way of critiquing is good because she does not have to read between the lines of what Scott is saying. She is also a good boss, because she is just like one of the stylists.

Stylist Sara Penkert, 32, has worked with Scott for 13 years. She said she attended Blades School of Hair Design in St. Mary’s County and that someone there recommended Scott’s salon. Penkert got her first job as a stylist right out of school.

“I personally am not Studio Mirage without my staff,” Scott said.

Rebecca Barnabi

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