Advice / Hairstylist / Life / LIfestyle / Personal

An intimate look into the thoughts of a stylist….

Please excuse my normal light-hearted posts as I venture in a direction I have never gone before. This is me, excusing the typical playful banter, and not reviewing anything that has to do with makeup or hair. This is just me, writing from my heart.

I am challenged daily to think about why I function in certain ways; Why I choose certain people to be a part of my life; Why I handle situations the way I do. A little over 2 years ago, quite possibly the most devastating thing in my entire life took place, and I have yet to deeply talk about it, or write about it because sometimes putting things into words is just too difficult. Today I am not choosing to write about it either, but express what this kind of devastation causes. It permeates everything in your life. It becomes a part of the filters with which you look through and view your life. After the “normal” stages of grief, you attempt to rebuild your reality, and that is where I find myself in 2013. This is a new year, and with it came a new hope. I have experienced how fragile life is (as most of us have) and I have had the breath knocked out of me. It took me this long to breathe in again. There also comes this sort of freedom from a type of thinking. Once you realize how quickly life can be taken away, I think it brings you to this place where you have to decide if you are going to live your life in a genuine authentic way, if you were not before. I certainly have never felt I am a “fake” person, but there are aspects of this industry in which you must handle things, deal with people, act in a certain way because it boils down to the fact that they are your client, and you are providing a service to them. I believe a huge part of what I offer is a break from reality. You get this time with me and you can talk about everything in your heart- and be pampered, and if I can give you this little time of freedom and make you feel more beautiful when I’m done, then it’s a job well done.

In this, over time, relationships are created. As most people know, the relationship between stylist and client can become very very blurry. Are you a friend? Are you just a service provider? Are you less? Does it matter? Does it effect how you feel about yourself? Your craft? This person? Are they just your paycheck, or is there more- sure they are paying you, but are you passionate about what you are doing, and putting out there, and are you truly spending your LIFE wisely?

Today a very good friend of mine wrote something in her blog that has had me thinking all day. It was a blatant stand against hate in any form. It was earnest, heartfelt, and so true to the person she is. It was dividing. People may choose to not hire her because of her stance, but regardless, she was being genuine, true, and authentic to the person she is and taking a stand against something that she felt was wrong in so many ways. Her words have pushed me to write something that has been on my heart for such a long time. It is not quite as “controversial,” but it is absolutely not something that we talk about a lot, and it needs to be said.

Ask my mom what I wanted to be when I grew up, and she will settle into this cute story about how I wanted to be a Barbie. Find my first little Precious Moments bible from my Grandmother, and in the ‘About You’ section the owner is asked to finish the sentence ‘When I grow up I want to be…’ I wrote “A Cosmetologist.”

I believe I was under 10 when I received that bible. Clearly someone taught me what that word was. 🙂

I say this to explain: what I do for a living is in my blood. I have had moments where I waiver, grow fearful, get burnt out, beg for no one to text me, call me, or email me because they need their hair done…. but at the end of the day, I was born to make people feel beautiful and it edifies who I am in the deepest part of my heart. I LOVE what I do.

My good friend Anne Almasy  is a wonderfully talented photographer and she was interviewed on the blog “Experimental Wifery” about what she does for a living. (Please, read the awesome interview here!) In it she is asked what the worst part about being a photographer is and because I can literally not put it in better words, this is her response:
“The worst is the fear of someone not being happy with what you’ve created. Photography is really personal. If someone isn’t happy, it’s not like she bought a necklace from me and wants to exchange it. Instead it feels like a very intimate rejection of myself as a person, because my photography—my art—is such an extension of myself….”
How brilliantly stated. When I work with a client, it is personal. You allow me to transform the way that you look, as I artistically interpret you to desire, or I desire. You give me permission to do so. You trust that what I am going to do is going to be in your best interest and make you look beautiful. You trust my judgment, and my opinion when I tell you that I don’t believe something is the best choice for you, or when I believe something is better in terms of color or cut, or your wedding style. Trust is a valuable thing to earn, and I don’t take it lightly. 

The moment I started in this industry, I had a very open policy. If you don’t like what I do- tell me. If I make a mistake in your color- tell me. If you still trust me- let me fix it. If not, I understand, but have the integrity to tell me as opposed to putting my work down behind my back, and never giving me the opportunity to understand or fix. I understand that I am not the perfect stylist. I will make mistakes. I am also not right for everyone. It is one of the things I tell prospective clients when e-mailing me about their wedding- look at my work, decide if I am right for you- do not hire me because of my price, hire me because of my work. I say all of this not because this is something that happens to me often, but because it HAS happened. It has happened to anyone who runs their own business.
In this industry I get the opportunity to talk to many artists who earn a living from their art, and without fail, they all feel the same as I do about our art: because it [what I do for a living] is “an extension of myself”-when a client decides to suddenly stop seeing me, or goes to someone else, or decides to tell other people that I am not giving them what they need,  it can feel “like a very intimate rejection of myself as a person….” because when I work on you as a client, YOU are the expression of my art- and that “is such an extension of myself…” (to quote parts of Anne’s interview.) It is more hurtful when it comes from someone that you have cultivated a relationship with over time, because it can feel like a personal rejection. End of story.
Some clients will never be happy. We call them “jumpers.” They jump from stylist to stylist, always looking for a better color, better cut, better dentist, better doctor, better, better, better….. Oprah Winfrey was on air speaking about her hair, saying (excuse the paraphrase) that the reason her hair is in such great condition and is truly all hers- not relaxed, no extensions- is because she has been with the same stylist for years. She trusts him, he tells her what to use on her hair, and she does. She trusts that he knows what he is talking about. Some of us have jumpers, and believe me, I have said bye to a few, but most of us have amazing clients-the kind that trust me to work on them and over time to get their hair to the best possible place it can be. My desire is to make my clients happy. I also desire to know them well enough to know what will work for them, and what won’t. Yes, I charge for this service, but it’s about more than just the money: I truly desire to put beauty into the world, and make people feel better about themselves.
So, I believe this is my longest entry yet, but it is definitely something that needed to be said, because with friends like mine, who have the guts to step up and express what they believe, being genuine to themselves and those they love, how can I not say what has been on my heart. Life is too short. While there are those clients who choose to walk away, or clients who don’t truly value who you are and what you offer, there are more waiting to welcome you into their world and let you work on them, express your creativity through bringing out the beauty that honestly has less to do with how pretty THEY are, but how beautiful their soul is. Those are the clients that make doing what I do worth doing. It’s the first look a bride has when she sees what you have done for her on her wedding day. It’s the client who sends you a note telling you that you gave her, her “man winning hair” as that is what caught the attention of the love of her life. It’s giving your long time client’s baby girl her first haircut. It’s crying with your client as you do her hair for her husbands funeral.
These clients are why I do what I do, and regardless of the hurt that other clients can cause, and how intimate that hurt can feel- it absolutely cannot take away the memories I have with the amazing clients I have had in my life who have truly loved me, valued what I do, and become an intimate part of who I am.


2 thoughts on “An intimate look into the thoughts of a stylist….

  1. I’m glad you enjoyed my interview of Anne. She is a wonderfully talented photographer and a beautiful person.

    I always knew that hair styling was an art, but I never thought about a stylist as an artist who takes his or her work so personally. Wedding photography and hair styling are such high-stakes arts–if the client doesn’t like the result, it can be really difficult to fix.

    I’m hoping to get my mid-back-length hair cut short again soon. It’s a personal decision, and I’m nervous because I don’t have a good relationship with a stylist nearby. I wish I were living in Georgia so I could be sure I was working with a stylist as conscientious as you!

    • We are out there! I promise! I really believe that a relationship with your stylist makes all the difference, but I also believe in honest and integrity bound hair styling. This means if I say I am going to do something… I do that. This also means I do not say I will cut 1 inch, but really my intention is to cut 3. I don’t work like that, and that style of hair dressing creates a bad name for us and distrust for my industry. Don’t settle! Find a stylist who you click with, and the best way to do this is to take good care of your hair. Go in every 8 weeks for a trim- and if you can’t do it at home- ask for help from your stylist. If they don’t make themselves available to help you- go else where! I always tell my clients ‘I am your stylist full-time- not just when you are sitting in my chair.’ Thanks for reading my blog and writing such a great article on Anne!

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