I’ve been a hairstylist for a long time. Long enough to have done my fair share of spiral perms, french twists, mullets, and who can forget “the Rachael” haircut. I’ve used more boxes of foils, swept more hair, emptied more cans of hairspray than I could even count, and if Malcomn Gladwell’s rundown of mastery in his best-seller “Outliers” is accurate I’ve clocked 10,000 hours behind the chair six times over.
But the haircuts, hair colors, and highlights aren’t what keep me picking up my comb every single day. I show up for you, to hear about your triumphs and tragedies, lighten your load, and bring a smile to your face. To share life with you. I’m not “just a hairstylist”. I’m a friend, confidant, cheerleader, and yes, sometimes a therapist.
Any hairstylist who’s been in the game for any length of time can say without a doubt our career is about the people, and all of those bright-eyed newcomers to the salon world who think it’s all about the hair quickly find out the intense relational aspect is at the heart of the hair.
Hellos and Goodbyes
For a good hairstylist the “hellos” are easy. New clients sit in our chairs daily trusting us with what they can never take off or return if it’s not a good fit they need to keep it until it grows out. A skilled hairstylist can consult, concoct chemical formulations and geometrical patterns, and converse simultaneously. Sometimes we need to make snap decisions about what people want without even knowing them because they don’t know what they want. One wrong snip and Yelpers are angrily typing an “if I could give no stars I would” review. Once a hairstylist gets one of those reviews they know they need to sharpen more than their shears to stay in the game of hair.
But the goodbyes never get easy. For most hairstylists, once we say “goodbye” we wonder about more than your hair, we wonder about you. Because you’ve most likely shared more than just your hair with us. You’ve left us a moment of your life, and if we are lucky you come back year after year allowing us to be there coiffing your hair before and after every single major event in your life.
Who Are You?
Often times the hairstylist is invited to parties, baby showers, weddings, and funerals. When no one knows who we are. The question is ALWAYS, “How do you know (insert name).” So we say, “I’m the hairstylist.” The response is always the same, “Ohhhhh, so you know everything” This is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on who it is that asks. LOL!
The best part of being invited to these family events is getting to put names and faces to the numerous stories we hear. Most of the time we feel like we know people we’ve never met before. This is especially true of people’s children. We follow their lives from birth to marriage, and it’s wonderful!
This is true in reverse as well. Many of my clients have been kind enough to trust me with their tresses through two marriages and two children. My boys come into the salon and my clients get excited to see them because they feel like they know them. One very special client of mine has my son’s graduation photo along with all of her family photos. Her son asked her, “Who’s that?” She proudly said, “That’s my Grandson!” I have to laugh because no one in her family has ever met my son, but she has no qualms about telling people how proud she is of “her Grandson”. What a gift!
Don’t Underestimate Your Mark On Your Hairstylist
I can’t speak for every hairstylist but if you’ve blessed me by allowing me to do your hair, you’ve left your mark on my life. You’re not “just a client.” You’re in my thoughts. I’m cheering for the achievement of your dreams, and at times I cry with you.
Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m “the hairstylist.” I will always love creating fabulous haircuts and hair colors that will hopefully give you a bit more confidence to face the world. I am grateful for each person who not only trusts me with a shear as sharp as a surgeon’s scalp close to their ear and even more honored for the vulnerability people feel comfortable sharing with me. I love being “the hairstylist!”
Thank you for your trust in me, and cheers to many more memories, laughs, and of course… being “just a hairstylist”!
**** This blog is written in honor of my son’s second Grandma. Who I had the honor of serving for many years. She made her mark on my heart. May she rest in peace. Not forgotten are the many other women and men that I admired and dearly miss.*****💖