writing about the art of beauty

A woman approached me after I had just finished a great presentation.

“That was excellent,” she said. “You have so much knowledge, and I was wondering about your background.”

“Well thank you, “ I said. “I’ve been working for this company for 12 years but I’m a hairdresser by trade.”

Her face dropped.                                                           

“That’s so surprising,” she said. “You’re so smart.”

Yup. Out loud. True story.

This has been my whole life. In high school when I chose the vocational path, I was dismissed by the guidance office as not needing college. I went anyway. My parents made me take all my academic high school classes, you know – just in case. My mother continually tried to persuade me to work at the bank like her, even when I was making more money than she was. She was embarrassed to tell her friends I was just a hairdresser.

When I moved to Boston and opened my own salon, people discouraged me by saying salons were failing businesses. Then I watched a good amount of corporate types get laid off due to company downsizing while my business expanded and we moved to a larger space. I sold that business at a profit when I had my first child.

I have owned a business, I have run other businesses. I trained a hairdresser right out of school who went on to own her own business. I have worked at trade shows and as an in-salon educator. There are a wealth of lucrative opportunities in this field.

So allow me to take a moment to tell you about your hairdresser.

They went to school, and were educated not just in beauty but also in math and science. Those awesome layers you have and the cool way your hair falls into shape, that’s all angles, radius and diameter. That color they’re applying to your hair, that’s a personalized mix of chemicals. That back color room in the salon you go to, it’s practically a chemistry lab.

The conversations you have, the ones you leave wondering why you told them your intimate details from your hot date, while you carry your bag with $40 worth of shampoo and conditioner to your car? That’s good listening, genuine concern, with some psychological sales and marketing mixed in.

That bang trim you got for free, those samples you went home with and that complimentary manicure you got while your color processed? Customer service and client retention.

The resources they share with you, like a good electrician, accountant, lawyer, psychologist or whoever else you need? Networking.

But that’s just the business part. What about the text you got asking how your job interview went? Or the meal they dropped off at your home because your spouse or parent was ill? Or that Sunday morning they opened the salon to do your hair for an important function? Or that time they came to your house because you had no way of getting out?

Above all, we want our clients to feel good not only with how they look, but how they feel about themselves. We are caring and committed to what we do, and we deserve to feel good about it, too.

So at your next appointment, you give your hairdresser a hug and tell them how grateful you are that they haven’t turned your hair green or given you the wrong style. Let them know you are thankful for their secret keeping abilities and flexibility with their schedule. And you make sure to tell them you know and value how capable and intelligent they are. Because we cannot hear this too many times.