Reflections on an Awesome Career βœ‚


The end of my career as a hairdresser and business owner is fast approaching,(Sigh!) . Our goal date for leaving is June, 2013 . I find myself trying to imagine what that’s going to feel like. To leave my dear little salon for the last time. To do my last haircut. What will that last day of work be like? Will I be able to see through all my tears to give a good haircut? I wouldn’t want to be my last appointment on that day, that’s for sure! Yikes! 😁It’s really quite amazing to me, how important my relationships with all my clients (Friends!) have become. I even hesitate using the word ‘client’ because that term, to me, denotes a kind of an impersonal relationship and really doesn’t feel like an accurate term when I address you all.

Not everyone ends up in a career that they love. My career has been rewarding in so many ways, socially, financially, and artistically . I’ve known many people who ended up in jobs or careers that brought them very little pleasure or personal satisfaction . That’s such a sad thing . I’m ever so grateful and fortunate, to have found my passion at such a young age! I grew up around this business because my father was a hairdresser. He owned a large salon employing about 15 stylists in the same town where my salon is II have many fond memories of hanging around the salon folding towels or sweeping hair. The salon environment is one I’m very much at home in. So when I got the opportunity to start going to cosmetology school the summer before my junior year in High School, I jumped on it. I must have been 15 when that happened. My school offered a program called R.O.P.(regional occupational program). It gave students like me, who weren’t especially academically inclined, an option to attend a vocational school for half the day and regular school the other half of the day. I jumped on the opportunity to get away from the high school, it was not my favorite place. As an adult I’ve come to understand why I was so unsuccessful in a traditional academic setting, I was dyslexic. And never having been diagnosed left me feeling like a failure and not as smart as my peers. But cosmetology school was a whole different story! I was using my hands and doing something creative that felt much more natural and I began to experience , for the first time, real success. I discovered that I learned much better when I was actually ‘doing’ something with my hands , as opposed to reading, memorizing, or being tested . This must have been my first big ‘A hah!’ moment. I truly loved cosmetology school! From the very first day working on that mannequin head I was hooked! It felt so good to be good at something. Then when I discovered how wonderful it was to use that talent to make people feel good I knew it was something I would never tire of doing. I could not only be artistic but also interact with people in a pretty intimate level and figure out how to make them feel good about themselves . These aspects about this career I have never, ever, grown tired of! By the time I graduated from high school I had only a few months left before I also graduated from cosmetology school. So I was still only 18 when I began working in the hairdressing business .

I knew very early on in my career that I never wanted to work with my dad at his salon. I loved him dearly but I just really wanted to feel as though I succeeded in this business on my own, without having it handed to me. I thought that if I went to work in his salon I would always be,’the owners daughter’. I’m sure my dad was relieved that I felt that way because there are so many complications that come with working with family. So I decided to look for a salon where I could apprentice with an experienced , successful stylist who would mentor me and help me learn how to achieve success. I knew that the training I got in beauty school just barely grazed over the very basics of what I needed to learn to be a high end stylist. I found the perfect salon in the Blossom Valley area of San Jose, called The Hair Biz. I interned there for two years and learned an incredible amount from a very talented stylist named Tina Wong. I learned so much from her and attribute much of my success from that experience. I’ve often wished I could thank her for all she did for me but I’ve lost track of where she is.

After two years at The Hair Biz it was time to move on. I moved to a salon in mountain view , Absolute Perfection, where I began building my clientele . That was about 1987-88 . And after all these years I still have a few very loyal clients from that period of time. Let’s see if I get this right…… Cindy Voytec, Chris Mcgranahan , Ann Ingraham , Lana Griffin, Patti White,Dianne Killiany, Marie Bechtel ,Bob Cascarino, Carol Clark, Leslie Bottorph , Susan Bracken and Walt Wadlow. Wow! These are my longest standing clients from Wayyyyy, Wayyyy back!( not to be confused as my ‘oldest’ clients…. Nooooo, they don’t even have grey hair!) 😍 If I missed anyone, let me know, I think I got everyone, but who knows! Even though not all my clients go as far back as 25 years, a large majority go back pretty far because I’ve had the honor of maintaining very long, loyal relationships with so many very special people throughout the years.

It’s been my experience through the years, that an appointment with me often doubles as a therapeutic as well as beautifying appointment ( much more economical !) . I’m a safe person to confide in since I often don’t know their stupid, aggravating, sometimes self-absorbed husband (or wife) . Or their bitchy best friend. Or the dyeing parent or terminally ill brother, sister or friend. Many times I’ve stopped in the middle of a haircut to hold a crying friend who just lets it all come out while sitting in my chair. Or stopped to wipe the tears from my eyes from laughing so hard at a great story. Divorces , affairs, births, deaths, breast cancer, car accidents, weddings, major life changes of countless varieties. 30 years of being a really good listener and genuinely caring about what people share with me has rewarded me with close, intimate relationships with many, many amazing people. It’s funny to me that the vast majority of these people who I feel so bonded to, do I seldom, if ever, socialize with outside my salon. When you think about it, in this busy life that we all lead here in the Silicon Valley, how many of your friends do you get to spend time with on a regular basis? Every month. Most of my clients (friends) I get to see every 4-6 weeks on a regular basis year after year! Now, that’s what I call… A Great Job!

Spending all day making people I care about feel good! And it goes both ways, believe me, I have felt very cared about by my clients through the years. This aspect of my career as a stylist is probably the single most rewarding thing I will take away when I leave in June. I’ve loved cutting, coloring, highlighting and perming hair. I’ve loved doing a total makeover on someone and helping them feel pretty, sexy and fashionable ( lets not forget handsome !) when they may have been in a funk as they walked through the door of the salon , it’s rewarding beyond belief! But mostly I’ve cherished the intense conversations, the laughter, the book discussions( that often became literary conversations with everyone in the salon joining in on the fun!), the support I’ve gotten from everyone during my darkest hours, and the knowledge that 184 Plaza South is a place people look forward to spending their time. If only one person walked out the door of my salon feeling happier than they did when they walked in, I’ve achieved success! When I look back and reflect on my career and my life so far I feel very proud of my accomplishments and blessed by the many, many people that will always be my friends. As I write this post I am realizing that I’m not really ever ‘leaving’ anything behind. All these fond memories, shared stories, and mutual support are gifts I will carry with me as my next Adventure Begins!

About hollycarter184

Life is Good! But it's time for a change, and more adventure! I'd like to share the whole experience of preparing then actually making a reality of expatriating, and moving to a new country. It's an exciting, and slightly scary move full of possibility . I'm looking forward to learning a new language and making new connections with the people who share our spirit of adventure. This blog is my way of continuing my connection with my friends and family in the States. Sooooo here it goes! :)

15 responses »

  1. Holly, you are truly a mother’s dream πŸ™‚ Seeing you live your dreams is a true blessing πŸ™‚ The pride I feel for you as my daughter, the mother of my wonderful granddaughter, successful business woman, caring and giving woman, (to everyone you met), and a giving loving wife is truly a BLESSING πŸ™‚ If you were not my daughter I would love to be one of your many friends that you talk about and enjoy sending time with. I know I have miss a lot not being closer to you however I really sometimes feel you do not know how much I LOVE YOU and miss you. xxoo Mom

  2. I really don’t remember when you started cutting my hair. I know we met at some salon or other when I was just getting manicures. But I do remember telling Amalie that of all the barbers I’d been to over the years, your treatment of my hair was by far the best. Even if we do argue about the part line.

    • Yes, you and I do go way back! In spite of your expectation of precision parting( which I have still just barely mastered ), you have always been a person I admire greatly! You always manage to embrace the humor in life and you never let anything stop you from appreciating and sharing a good chuckle!

  3. You’ve been taking excellent care of me (along with my husband and two daughters) since Cindy Voytek referred me to you back in 1998. You’re irreplaceable, Holly. While I’m happy for you and Scott in all your new adventures, I’m dreading your leaving and not being able to see you every month. You’re truly one of a kind, and I’ll always appreciate how much you care about each and every one of your clients (friends). I’m hopeful that we’ll have the opportunity to come visit you and Scott in your new digs. Until then, I will cherish my last few visits in your “therapy chair”! πŸ™‚

  4. Holly cannot express how happy I am for you & your Scott. Scotty says hello. I can remember the
    times you did my hair but what I remember most of all was the thumb nail you fixed for me when you
    were going to school. My nail looked like a platapus. We laughed…….
    Thankyou for the times you put up with doing my hair. Scotty said you were going to be the first
    to cut Kayla’s hair, but that is not going to happen, unless you make a trip to Texas before leaving
    for Panama. Ws sure would like to see you all. Good Luck & we Love You

    • Oh! Gini!! What a pleasant surprise to get a comment from you! Thanks for the kind words of encouragement and the reminder of the great times. I don’t remember the fingernail but who could forget that amazing red hairπŸ‘©! You might have to change Kayla’s name to Repunzel if you wait for me to cut it! Lol! Tell Scotty I wish I could have done it! Love you!

  5. Holly,

    I finally am getting a chance to read your blog. I have not finished it but have thoroughly enjoyed this portion regarding your career. Yes, I will miss our visits and informal book group discussions! But with blogs and e-mail, you will be able to continue offering great reading selections!


    P.S. I don’t go back as far as your Mountain View salon, but can claim to be one of the Palo Alto salon “oldies.”

  6. Nicely written, Holly. I hope our paths cross in Boquete. My wife and I love it here. Maybe you will even consider trimming my hair sometime in your ‘retirement’. :^) It sounds like your friends/clients love you – a worthy accomplishment for any career.
    Also, thank you for following my blog.

    • It’s very nice to meet you Mike! Thanks for sending a comment. Im looking forward to following your adventures. I really enjoy reading about life in Boquete ! I began my blog back in June and have since discovered a very friendly, supportive group of expats with an inspiring sense of adventure and a beautiful outlook on life ! I’m counting the days until our arrival in Boquete ! And yep, I’m bringing my scissors so fear not, you’ll be stylin’ after I get done with you! Lol! Cheers!

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