Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 22, 2013

Friendship always in fashion

VALDOSTA — Carol Jeter remembers cradling baby Leigh Ingra before nap time, watching teenage Leigh explore the creeks and railways of South Georgia, teaching undergraduate Leigh during beauty school, tracking professional Leigh as her cosmetology career branched through salons in the heart of Central Florida and passing on the reins of Wiregrass Technical College’s cosmetology department to her best friend, Leigh, when the surrogate mother retired.

The two, Carol and Leigh, are cosmetologist by profession and design — it appears almost hardwired into their vivacious personalities.

“We’ve been friends since, before she ever was — I grew up next door to her aunt,” says Carol. “I knew Leigh when she was in the womb. When she was a tiny baby, I held her. I remember her running around and playing. Her mother, Sammie, was a hair dresser and I always thought that was neat. She would come over and give Aunt Sue and my mom a perm. I’ve known Leigh and her family forever.”

There is a generational gap between the two. Leigh attended school with Carol’s daughter, which serves to establish some form of distinction between the two. Carol earned a beauty license in 1966 at Macon State College, located on Hill Avenue, in Valdosta, across from the street from the pool hall, she says.

When Carol came to work at Wiregrass, then Valdosta Technical Institute, in 1987, Leigh was in her first class, she says.  

“Bless her heart,” says Carol. “They had just taken me from industry and told me to teach. There were no books or guides. You were given a book and told to teach. So I taught Leigh. Some people have to work for it. Others are born with it. Leigh was just born with it.”

After school, Leigh went to work for beauty behemoth Regis for roughly nine years and was promoted to the command post over nine salons in Orlando as regional supervisor. Big sister and best friend, Carol, says she was watching and keeping in touch as Leigh or they’d meet at hair shows because Carol says she was simply proud of Leigh.

Leigh says she moved back to Valdosta when her mother fell ill. Carol only wonders were Leigh’s career would be had her family not been stricken with the misfortune.

“My mother was a cosmologist and she had a salon,” says Leigh as she explains her path. “I was just always in salons. I dabbled my hand in nursing for a little bit and decided it wasn’t as fun as hair. When I graduated, I went on to do good things. I’ve been doing hair 25 years now and then I got on with the school full time six years. Carol has been my teacher and she has been my boss.”

If anything good came out of the declining health of Leigh’s mother, it was access to a world-class beautician to the students of Wiregrass Technical College.

“Leigh had such a wealth of experience, having worked at Regis, that she was just such a help to me,” says Carol. “The years that she worked with me were just wonderful. She brought something that was needed to the department. And for the students that have worked under her, they’ve truly learned what it is to be a hairstylist and a good person.“

When you have a history, it’s so easy to work together, says Carol.

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