Two local cosmetologists had built their clientele to around 200.
Micah Joray had been with Second Street Styles at 110 W. Second St. in Seymour since it opened six years ago, while Zack Killey worked there and at This Old Guitar Music Store a couple of doors down along with playing in a band, These Fine Gentlemen.
Joray also was an instructor at Hair Force Beauty Academy in the same building as the salon, and Killey was in the process of earning his instructor’s license.
But Jan. 4, their workplace — and also Killey’s home — went up in flames.
Story continues below gallery
About 11:15 a.m. that day, Killey discovered a dryer in his family’s home above the businesses had caught fire. He immediately evacuated his sister, and then went downstairs to tell Joray and others in the salon and academy to get out of the building.
That wound up being one of two buildings destroyed by the fire.
Next door, the upstairs portion of the building housing Isabel’s Estetica and Novedades Maria at 108 W. Second St. crumbled onto the sidewalk and a couple of cars parked nearby. The businesses were owned by Maria Isabel Ponce, and she lived upstairs with her husband, son and aunt.
Since that day, those affected by the fire have tried to pick up the pieces and move on.
The community has helped out in a big way, either by donating clothing, money, gift cards or cosmetology supplies.
About a week after the fire, Joray was able to resume her job thanks to Peggy Davis offering free booth rental for a month at her shop, N Stylz Hair Design at 321 E. Second St.
“It was great when she offered to give me a spot here,” Joray said. “I had a few other ones that offered, too, but it was amazing how so many people reached out and just wanted to help me, not even knowing me. Just a big ‘thank you’ to Seymour and everyone that has offered to help me keep my job.”
Davis also has collected donations of hair products, flatirons, blow dryers, shears and other items. She allowed Joray to have anything she needed, and she plans to give everything else to Killey’s parents, Alan and Dana, to use when they reopen the salon and academy.
“There was so much stuff,” Davis said of the items collected so far. “There’s going to be a lot more come in because I’ve had a lot more messages about stuff people, from stylists to salon owners, want to donate.”
Davis said she’s happy to have Joray on the staff.
“She’s just a sweetheart. We love her,” Davis said. “She’s doing eyelash extensions, and I’m even learning from her. We’re really glad to have her.”
Killey said he continues to give piano and voice lessons at This Old Guitar and perform with his band, and he hopes to take his cosmetology instructor’s test soon. Then he will help his family reopen the academy and salon.
“I’ve been offered positions on chairs at other businesses, but I’ve kind of got everything on hold at the moment,” Killey said of hairstyling.
Joray and Killey both grew up in Seymour but became interested in cosmetology in different ways.
Joray’s mother was a cosmetologist and homeschooled Joray and her siblings. Soon after Joray finished her schooling, her mother died after battling cancer, so Joray took a year off to be with her father, brother and sister.
Her mother had attended the former House of James beauty school in downtown Seymour. Joray found out about Hair Force and thought she could go there and still be able to help her family.
It took her 11 months to earn the 1,500 hours she needed to receive a cosmetology license. Alan Killey opened a small salon on North Chestnut Street with Joray on the staff, but it only lasted a few months.
He then opened Second Street Styles and had Joray go through instructor’s school so she could be a cosmetologist and also help teach at the academy.
“After you graduate from beauty school, because it’s such a quick program, your skill level will go up over the years, so it was a huge opportunity that Alan let me go back to instructor’s school because I could still learn some things, and then work around myself and figure this out,” Joray said.
Zack Killey graduated from Seymour High School in 2011, and then attended Ball State University in Muncie for a while until deciding to earn his cosmetology license. After finishing schooling at Hair Force, he started working with Joray.
Growing up, he said it never was his intention to become a cosmetologist.
“Not at all,” he said. “But doing it, it’s a good job, and it’s easy to make your own hours and stuff.”
Recently, he had been balancing the two part-time jobs with performing with the band and working on his instructor’s license. He’s also working toward a general education degree from Ball State.
The day of the fire, he and his father had just returned from the bank. Since he didn’t have any appointments that day, Zack headed upstairs to relax. That’s when he noticed a light that’s always on wasn’t on.
After smelling smoke, he ran up the stairs, opened the door, saw his sister, Allison, in the hallway and then discovered the fire.
Zack told Allison to call 911 and leave the house, and as he ran downstairs to tell the nearly 20 people inside the salon and academy to get out, he also called 911.
Their parents went upstairs to try to put the fire out, but they decided to leave once they saw 5-foot flames in a nearby room. They were able to get their dog, but they couldn’t find their cat.
“It’s really weird because based on what I saw running out that door and telling everybody to come outside, none of us even imagined that it would have progressed to that,” he said of the buildings suffering heavy damage and the wall collapsing next door.
Joray said she initially didn’t realize the severity of the fire, either. She had just finished up with a client and told them, “See you next time.” She left her belongings, including a wallet and a coat, in the shop and walked across the street to seek shelter. That’s when she saw the wall collapse.
She later left to take the Killeys’ dog to her house and returned downtown around 4 p.m. to talk to the family.
“It didn’t sink in until probably two days later, and I kind of had a little meltdown. I was like, ‘I lost my job,’ and my boyfriend’s like, ‘You did not lose your job. You still are a stylist. You lost your place of work,'” she said.
The Killeys’ cat, which they had as a pet for 16 years, was the only fatality.
“Everybody made it out, and that’s what matters. The cat thing had us pretty torn up, but other than that, it’s just stuff for the most part,” Zack said.
A day after the fire, the business owners were allowed into the buildings to see what they could salvage.
Most of the electrical tools Joray and Killey used were a loss, but some items in sealed tubes or drawers were saved. Joray said she was fortunate because a lot of the items she uses to do wedding makeup were at her house. She also was able to retrieve her wallet.
Killey said despite his guitar case getting destroyed, the guitar was OK. He also was able to save a couple of video games, a painting and a few documents.
“If anything was in a case, it seemed to be salvageable for the most part. Anything out of that or anything that was touchy with water was gone,” he said. “We’re really going to have to do some work to break even, but we’re going to come out all right.”
After a month at N Stylz, Joray said she will figure out what she’s going to do.
Alan and Dana have been able to move into a home, while Allison has returned to Ball State, and Zack is living with a friend.
The family is working to get the salon and academy operational in a different downtown building.
They have received donations of money, gift cards and clothing through their church, Reddington Christian, and another downtown business, Beautiful Chaos.
“The community’s outreach, I feel like it has been really overwhelming for us,” Zack said. “They have helped us out so much. People have just really been really good to us. That has helped a tremendous amount. There’s so much stuff. I haven’t been able to try on half of the clothes I’ve gotten.
“We’re just really, really grateful,” he said. “Everybody has been so awesome. I guess you don’t really know who all you’ve got until something like this.”
Donations of money and gift cards are being accepted for the families affected by the Jan. 4 fire in downtown Seymour.
They can be dropped off at Beautiful Chaos, 125 W. Second St., Seymour, during regular business hours. For information, call 317-407-3922.
Gift cards also can be dropped off at Reddington Christian Church, 10516 N. U.S. 31, Reddington, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays or during worship services at 8 and 10:30 a.m. Sundays. For information, call 812-445-3451.
Donations of items for hair stylists to use, including shears, flatirons, blow dryers and hair products, are being accepted at N Stylz Hair Design, 321 E. Second St., Seymour. For information, contact Peggy Davis at 812-405-2410 or 812-216-1849.
To make an appointment with cosmetologist Micah Joray, call 812-528-4502.