April 13, 2024

Ever since Patty Young’s early days, she knew she wanted to be just like her mother.
Young’s mother, Ernestine Gentry, was a beautician, single mother and converted her Springfield home into a beauty salon to provide for her family. Young was second of four siblings. Later in her mother’s career, she earned the title of State Beauty Inspector of Ohio.
Young looked up to her mother and followed in her footsteps. She attended an African-American beauty school in Dayton, but soon transferred to a predominantly white school back in Springfield. She was the first black student to attend and graduate from the institution.
When Young received her operating license, she worked with her mother in the salon. Soon after, she married and had two children. The popular Gentry’s Beauty Salon was operated for 10 years by Young and her mother.
Young was the first black woman to open up her own shop in Springfield, which so happened to be on a major street. The popular reputation the salon received attracted both new clientele and the top local black hair care field. A lot of beauticians started their careers at Gentry’s.
The big trend of hair weaving soon became popular and would take the business of hair to a new level. Young learned the method from beautician Christina Jenkins, and would soon become the Weave Queen of Springfield.
At the time, Gentry’s had specialized in doing hair weaving, but the technique couldn’t solve all hair issues. Young wanted to make all her clients happy, as she was torn between continuing her usual business and wondering if she should add more techniques to help with the concern. Young got advice from her pastor, which led her to the decision of doing hair replacement.
From then, Young did her research and went to her first New Concepts Conference.
“I contacted a number of my clients to let them know that I had an answer to their problems with hair loss,” Young said.
She was inspired that the lady at the conference was an African-American woman who specialized in hair replacement for women of color.
“I was excited to be able to offer a variety of services that would leave my clients confident and satisfied,” Young said.
Afterward, Young started to learn how to do hair replacement, particularly non-surgical hair replacement. The experience she gained led her to open up another shop salon named Young Hair Inc. She balanced her time among both shops.
Young’s clientele grew at a rapid pace. Because of this increase, she decided to close both salons and open a single shop.
“The transition would allow me to work more closely with the American Cancer Society’s Look Good Feel Better Program,” Young said. “I participated in it for over 20 years and served on it once for the local board.”
Outside of the shop, Young created Sister’s United For Prevention. The organization was made up of a group of local African-American women, many of whom are cancer survivors. Young was the president.
“Our signature event is an annual luncheon that features guest speakers and a fashion show follows with all the models being cancer survivors,” Young said. “There are women, men and children who participate in the show. The proceeds from the ticket sales go to the Springfield Regional Cancer Center.”
Young also serves as a member of the National Council of Negro Women, a member of the African-American Community Fund Advisory Committee of the Springfield Foundation, is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Springfield Metropolitan Housing Authority and a member of Covenant United Methodist Church in Springfield.
Young has made many impacts in her community, therefore, it is no surprise that she has received a Volunteer of the Year award for her work with the American Cancer Society.
Dean of Multicultural Affairs John Young, who is Young’s husband, remarked on his wife’s success.
“I’m very proud of my wife’s success which, I believe, has as much to do with her compassionate and generous spirit,” he said. “Her customers acknowledge her and how they have benefited from her knowledge and experience when it comes to hair care.”
When Patty Young was asked about her biggest accomplishment, she related it to her faith.
“Throughout my career, I have always paused to pray and ask for guidance and direction. I believe God has truly blessed me to be able to touch so many lives through my hands,” Young said. “I consider my life work a blessing; it is truly why I continue to do the work.”

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