For more than 30 years Billy and Darlene Cave have run Albany’s Fourth Avenue Hair Designs while also building a family that now includes eight children. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — It’s been said that the family that prays together stays together, but for the Cave family of Albany that statement can be amended to add that great things can also happen when that family also works together.
For the past three decades, Fourth Avenue Hair Designers owners Billy and Darlene Cave have proven that statement true as they’ve not only built a successful marriage and family, they’ve built a successful business that has now employed three generations and recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.
“We’ve been doing this a long time and have loved every minute of it,” said Billy during a recent interview. “Since I started working here, we’ve gotten married, had children, adopted children and now we have grandchildren.”
It was through family that the couple’s road to marriage and business ownership began in the late 1970s when the two met through one of Darlene’s uncles.
“I was working with (Darlene”s) uncle out at DuPont on Phillips Drive when it was here in Albany,” Billy said. “He introduced us on a blind date and it’s been romance every since.”
What started out a simple courtship not long after he graduated from Westover High School quickly turned into a new career path for Billy as he decided to try his hand at the business that Darlene’s family operated. He began working along side his new sweetheart at her father’s hair salon, Styles By Marvin.
Darlene’s father, Marvin McDaniel, along with his three brothers, had run a successful salon in Atlanta and had moved home to south Georgia in the late 1960s to open a salon of his own. Darlene began working with her father in the early 70s and soon made the decision to attend cosmetology school.
“We grew up in it,” said Darlene. “I used to shampoo and do stuff like that on the weekends for him. Right out of beauty school in ‘76 I started really working here. This is the only job I’ve ever had.”
Not long after starting to work full time as a stylist, however, Darlene went on a date with Billy. Immediately, she not only had a new boyfriend but a new co-worker.
“In ‘77 that’s when we had our first date,” said Billy Cave. “That’s how I got in the business. After we met I started going to shows with her and her family.”
Just a few months after meeting Darlene, Billy found himself in cosmetology school, traveling with the family to styling shows and working for her father.
“Believe it or not I actually went to work for somewhere else after school, because I was concerned how things would go, you know, working with Darlene and all,” Billy said. “But that didn’t last and I came back here.”
The pair worked for McDaniel until his death in 1982. After getting married in 1983, they bought the business from Darlene’s mother, Sylvia, shortly after.
“I didn’t inherit the business,” Darlene said. “I had to buy it from my mom. That’s when we changed the name.”
It was also then that the husband and wife team began building a business and family together that has thrived for the last 30 years.
In addition to running the hair salon the couple, who are devout Christians, also began building a family that now includes eight children; their biological sons Mac, Bailey and Zac, who are all married now, and their five adopted children Austin, Natalie, Gabi, Ismael and Isaac. Bailey starred in Sherwood Productions’ “Facing the Giants” movie as the star football kicker.
“They are the loves of our lives,” said Darlene about the children. “We just love children. God put it on my heart to have these children.”
In fact, it’s their faith in the Lord that the couple credits with giving them the strength to manage raising a family of that size while also juggling the demands of running a business.
“We just work through it and pray a lot,” said Darlene. “We believe that if you put others first and have faith in God, you’ll be able to do what needs to be done. We just think of others and spend a lot of time on our knees.”
In addition to their strong faith, it’s apparent to anyone who knows the Caves that their love for each other and the love they have for what they do, also plays a large part in their success; a fact not lost on either of them.
“We really enjoy what we do and that makes a difference,” Billy said. “Sure there are times when there’s a lot going on and you don’t feel great, but it doesn’t last. This is not a bore and it’s not dread. It’s fun.”
For both Billy and Darlene the fun really lies, not in working with hair, but in working with people. They consider most of their customers as members of the family.
“Our customers are so loyal and almost like family,” Darlene said. “We try to take care of them and they look out for us too. We have clients that will adjust their schedules to what we’ve got going on because they know how important being with our family is. We have one family where we’ve cut their hair for five generations. It’s just loyalty.”
It’s that kind of loyalty that has helped the business remain strong and continue to grow over three decades as those loyal customers not only take their children to get hair cuts at Fourth Avenue, they recommend the family-run business to their friends and other relatives.
Another reason the business has been successful over the years has been its commitment to giving other stylists a place to start and build a clientele.
Over the years the Caves have had numerous stylists join them and many have gone on to open their own salons.
During that time they’ve also expanded their work family to include their actually family as two of Darlene’s sisters, who are also hairdressers, have worked at Fourth Avenue. Chloe Rentz, who now does hair in Baker County, worked at the shop years ago and currently Darlene’s youngest sister, Naomi Reber, runs a booth at the shop as well.
“It’s just in our blood,” Darlene said. “We’ve got lots of hairdressers in out family. I think there’s like 13 hairdressers in our family.”
While none of the couple’s children have yet expressed a desire to follow in their parents’ footsteps, Bailey’s wife, Amber, recently joined the team and now operates a booth at the salon ushering the third generation to call the hair salon home.
As proud as they are that Amber has joined the team, Billy and Darlene are quick to point out that entire family is important and that are just as pleased to have Mac’s wife, Kate, and Zac’s wife, Shelby, in the family as well.
“Our main focus is really on the family,” said Darlene. “After God, family is the most important thing. We love what we do but we believe doing for others is what really matters. The Lord has been good to us.”
Fourth Avenue Hair Designers is located at 1104 W. Fourth Ave. in Albany.