Seasoned beauty

Paula Grieco

Paula Grieco loves her job—so much that she’s stayed at it for 49 years. Grieco, 67, is supervisor and manager of Chico Beauty College. Known to students as “Mrs. G,” the blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty loves her students: “They’re really important people to me, and that’s why I keep doing this,” she said. Grieco was born in Maryland, the daughter of a hairdresser. In 1962, her family took “the trip of a lifetime” to California. They took in Disneyland, and detoured to Oroville to visit relatives. There, she met and fell in love with her future husband, Andre. (It wasn’t long after the trip that she and Andre became engaged.) They’ve been married 49 years. Grieco had started beauty school back in Maryland, and she finished up at Chico Beauty College when it was located on Second Street in downtown Chico. She had planned to go to Chico State to get a teaching degree but was asked to come back to the beauty college to teach other aspiring hairdressers. The school has been at its current location at East First and Longfellow avenues for decades. For more info, call 343-4201.

How many students would you estimate you’ve taught?

We used to have 50 to 60 a year, and now it’s more like 100. So I’d say somewhere in the range of 4,000. It’s fun. The Aquarian in me wants to make the world a better place, and I love doing that here.

How has the industry changed during your career?

We’re much more aware of what’s in the products, and why we’re using them. I’ve always been the person asking why. We know more about the chemistry of everything. That’s really big with me; understanding the chemistry of the products. It used to be we’d buy perms by the case and use the same one on everyone. Also, color has come a long way. It’s the thing we’re really into now.

Do you have plans to retire?

No. I’ve had hip and knee replacements, walking on cement floors all day for all these years. I used to wear the cute little pumps all day, when I was young and fashion came first. But I’ll keep doing this until my knees give out, or they close the school.

What’s a hot beauty trend for spring?

Less of the foil highlights all over the head. The look is much simpler now. We’re blending the colors and tones. You just want a subtle mix. Also, lipsticks are going to be more peachy and lighter for spring.