Where did all the real salons go?

Salon is a noun, the primary meanings are, elegant sitting room where guests are received, a gallery where works of art can be displayed, or a place of conducting business for hairdressers and beauticians. Step back in time for a moment, people would receive their guests in their homes and conduct their business in the Salon. Imagine being greeted and received into this area of the home where important things were discussed.  I love to think that some where someone decided that a place where woman gathered and had works of art created on their head, deserved to be called a Salon. I can imagine, the hair salons of the past being elegant, hospitable and honest. You may remember your grandmother’s stories of how she used to go once a week to catch up with her friends. She would spend hours at the salon. She was greeted by name, offered her favorite drink and entertained by talking to her friends and watching them get their hair styled. Stylist took their careers very seriously and work hard apprenticing and working together as a team to eventually master their trade. Customer service was top notch and if you had a complaint you could go straight to the owner. Have you noticed that today, especially if you live in the north Texas area, where I do, you just don’t get that type of experience anymore? I’m not talking about spending hours at a salon with today’s busy professional….”ain’t nobody got time for that!” I’m speaking of an environment that is friendly, courteous, clean and professional. Where you are treated like a guest and a long- time friend. A place where your time is respected, and your voice is heard. A place where your service provider is in the career of her dreams and at the top of her game and it is reflected in the work of art she has created on your head. You are the envy of all your friends and the compliments just don’t stop.

What happened?

Life happened! Industries, economics, and paradigms change. Some where someone got hurt, taken advantage of, left behind, abused, affected or offended. A new way of thinking, doing business and relating to one another emerged. People make decisions on how they will live their lives and conduct business based on those experiences. Opportunity was seen and new ways of solving the problems surfaced. The once employed stylist who apprenticed, was held accountable, challenged, did her best because she was paid commission and competed with her peers. Is now an independent contractor believing she is a business owner? She is having to take on all the responsibilities for his or herself and struggling to keep up. Failing to master any part of what it takes to truly be successful in their career, they eventually settle. What once started out as a promising profession and career is now a chore and looks more like a hobby then a profession.

Does this happen to you?

When you walk into your salon are you greeted by friendly staff members who are smiling, expecting you and are happy to see you? Are you walked into an elegant area where important things are happening and taken seriously? Or do you have to find your stylist room? When you are in the care of your service provider do you feel heard? Do you know you are in the hands of someone that is up to date on fashion trends and advancing in his or her work? Is your service provider in a career or just a hobbyist in it more for their benefit then yours?

In today’s world you may find yourself entering a salon mall trying to hunt down your stylist. As you walk down the hall you pray she is on time and ready to help you with your new hair idea. Instead, you walk up on a flustered stylist finishing the guest before you. She is rushing through that guest’s blowout. Then she has to quickly shampoos you, sit you down in her chair and when you say “I would like a new style”…. You get that I don’t have time for that look. Not because she doesn’t want to but because she has voicemail to check, towels to wash and her next customer on the way. Or maybe she doesn’t know how to give you that new look because with family at home to take care of. All the everyday business to do. She doesn’t have time to stay up to date on the new styles. Now, She starts your blowout and… “did she just pick up the same brush she used on that other lady??” Rather than feeling relaxed and welcome and in good hands. You feel rushed, in the way, out of date, in a rut and unsanitary. YIKES!  Or the other extreme, you have the stylist with too much time on her hand. She works as if you have all the time in the world. She yawns as you walk in, struggles to get out of the chair, you should be sitting in, tells you how tired she is. You think to yourself, she should have had plenty of time to be ready for me and clean up her room. You love the personal attention, but you know more about her personal life then you ever cared to know.

Or have you ever walked into an open concept salon looking for the more traditional experience and been uneasy? The receptionist seems put out rude annoyed by your presence? I don’t know when it happened but somehow elegant and professional became snobby, stuffy and unapproachable. The vibe from all the stylists in the salon seems cut throat, mean and negative. There is a strange attitude by everyone. You become a possession of the stylist and they own you and your hair more than you do. In their mind they never make a mistake and if your hair isn’t right it has to be something YOU are doing wrong. I believe when you leave a salon you should feel loved, empowered, well taken care of and heard. It should exceed your expectations. Most importantly you should feel like a million bucks walking around with a piece of art on your head! Whatever your taste in art might be.

How do you pick the best salon and best stylist for you?

In my opinion, when you walk into a salon you should be greeted by a friendly front desk team. You should feel welcomed and expected. The staff should be happy to be there and work well together as a team. It may sound cliché but in my opinion team work makes the dream work. A stylist living their dream career is a happy stylist and a happy stylist is a great stylist. A great stylist will work in an even greater salon. She should love where she works and the people she works with. She should be at her best self while she is there. A well mentored successful stylist is a happy stylist. She should be well trained and experienced and charge according to that experience and training. A happy stylist finds it hard to be negative and has no need to be cut throat. He or she should be easy to talk to and have solutions for your hair needs. The consultation is a must and Her technique should be quick clean and most importantly consistent. Over the years I have been able to retain new client simply because their old stylist did a great job the first time but could never repeat the work in the maintenance phase. Unless your stylist has some sort of photographic memory she should be taking notes. Many stylists are great at taking notes for the color service but never consider taking notes on the haircuts and or style services they perform. The salon should offer continuing education for the stylist and empower them to be the best. After all, how can you look at the top of your game if your stylist and salon isn’t?