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A Brief History of Roman Holiday Hair Design

Hi, everyone! I’m Jacque, and I’d like to share with you the interesting story of our salon, Roman Holiday Hair Design.

Salon Owner Jacque Backus and SmokeyThe story really begins in the early 1940’s when my mother, Marjorie, found herself divorced and the sole provider for herself and her baby boy. She wanted to earn her living as a beautician, so she worked her way through beauty school by cleaning the floors of the beauty school. After graduation, she went to work at Meier & Frank in downtown Portland as a hair dresser on the main floor. (Only men were allowed to work as “stylists” upstairs, serving higher income clients and receiving more pay for doing the same work with the same qualifications as the ladies downstairs.)

Then the U.S. entered Word War II. With the men gone fighting the war, Mom and some of her friends were promoted to stylist and moved upstairs. That was when she met Ida Hanna and Shirley Tucker. Mom met and married my dad, Johnny John, in 1943. He had joined the Navy, was shipped out to New Guinea, and returned after two years.

When I was born in 1949, Mom stayed home from work to raise me. When I was 12, she received a phone call from a former client from her time at Meier & Frank, saying Ida and Shirley were opening a salon in Menlo Park called Luxury Look and they needed a receptionist. Mom didn’t last a year as receptionist before she was back “behind the chair.” I spent many happy hours in the salon as well, helping with small tasks and learning “up close” about the beauty salon industry.

In 1965 Ida fell in love and moved to Seattle, Washington. The next year, Shirley fulfilled her dream by opening Roman Holiday Salon at NE 122nd and Halsey, then the largest salon in east Portland. She was fascinated with the movie “ Roman Holiday” and with ancient Rome. To promote this theme, she had Roman pillars installed and required the stylists to wear Roman togas and gold slippers.

Mom worked there until retiring in 1978. By that time I had graduated from beauty school and had worked at Roman Holiday since 1971. I felt the need to move on, ultimately forming my own business, Hair Design by Jacque.

In 1979, Brenda Hoxsey, one of the stylists at Roman Holiday Salon, bought it and changed the name slightly to Roman Holiday Hair Design. In 1982, she offered to sell it to me, and I said yes. I kept the name and am glad to have been the owner ever since, both at our previous address on 122nd (until 1999) and at our current location.

Along my journey in this industry, I’ve enjoyed helping people and making many friends of clients and co-workers alike.

I was also fortunate to be a part of the state and national boards of cosmetology, helping to ensure our industry’s high standards. I hope you enjoy our salon!

Jacque Backus, Owner


This year will mark our 20th year at our current 173rd and NE Halsey St. location.


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