When she stands in the lobby of her business, Carissa McCall can see where her great-grandfathers established themselves.
One great-grandfather started his business, a Les Schwab, off Exchange Street where the Astoria Co+op used to be located. He later moved the business to Warrenton and opened another in Seaside. Both remain in family ownership.
Another great-grandfather worked at Lovell Auto off 14th Street, now part of the Fort George Brewery complex.
In October, McCall launched her own business, Blessed Beauty Bar — in the former home of Malama Day Spa — right at the crossroads. The beauty bar offers a range of services, including lash extensions, facials and body and facial waxing .
McCall, 21, grew up in Happy Valley, outside of Oregon City, and hadn’t considered moving to Clatsop County until recently. She looked at places like Oregon City — not small enough — and Canby — still not small enough. Molalla? Nope.
McCall was close to her grandmother and had spent weeks in the summer in Astoria visiting her. As McCall and her now-husband looked for a place to live, a recent visit provided a Goldilocks-style conclusion: Clatsop County was just right.
In the Portland area, she had family, but they were spread far apart and everyone’s lives were very busy.
“We never saw each other,” McCall said. Now, she is a mere five minutes away from her grandmother, cousins and other relations.
“I’ve never had family in my backyard before,” she said.
McCall began working at Malama Day Spa. She worked nonstop, got married and, at one point, promised her husband, “I’ll start working less.”
That’s when Malama’s owner told her she was letting the business go. It was an opportunity McCall felt she couldn’t miss.
McCall became interested in beauty as a job in high school. People tried to discourage her from going to beauty school and urged her to go to college instead. But now she’s on the other side and she’s glad she followed her own plan.
McCall’s business and the space she provides to other independent contractors is very different from what her great-grandfather who opened the Les Schwab built. But, she said, “I think I can appreciate more taking that leap of faith.”