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!