Women used to flock to the hair salon for their weekly shampoo and roller set. All the ladies lined up in a row, hair wound tight on rollers, sitting under the dryer, coffee in hand waiting for their hair to dry. I’m sure there are still some faithful weekly roller setters out there but lets just say the phone is not ringing off the hook with requests.
Now some of you, I’m sure, think this happened eons ago and wouldn’t have affected any of us in our careers, but I can tell you that Friday’s meant one thing for me early in my career, and that was roller set day. I loved seeing these clients once a week, catching up with what they did on their weekend, who came over after church last Sunday and who was coming to visit this weekend, all while I shampooed and put their rollers in. All the clients knew each other too and looked forward to catching up between themselves, asking about each others children, new grand babies and of course who was in the hospital and what kind of casserole they took over to the family. They didn’t even own a blow dryer or a curling iron. Seriously.
I know it all sounds cliche. I know it sounds like 1940 but believe me it was NOT! Those women with their rollers wanted what everyone really wants – their hair exactly how they liked it. They just happened to like a hard, backcombed set that would last a week. But there were also clients who came in once a week and wanted something different…..
First it started with a curling iron set. Like the roller set only softer, yet still quite formal looking. And then it happened – my foray into ‘The Art of The Blow Dry’. Ethel* was a wonderful lady, bright, happy and beautiful. What Ethel wasn’t was a roller set client. Her chin length grey hair required more muscle then what those rollers could handle and after her shampoo she promptly told me that she would like her hair blow dryed with a round brush. Now don’t get me wrong – I’d used round brushes in hair school, punishing my classmates with a blow dry every now and then, but we spent 95% of our time rolling and backcombing. Doing a round brush blow dry was not a honed skill of mine.
But Ethel was patient, and bless her heart came back again and again, and I learned how to smooth and curl and volumize all with that one little round brush. All those roller sets that I could now do with my eyes closed had already taught me how to section, angle and roll the hair to make sure that Ethel’s blow dry was the stuff of her dreams. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much Ethel, and her blow dry, was actually teaching me.
Hairstyling is an art, and one that gets passed over far too easily at the end of a service. That blow dry lasted Ethel for a week. A week where she could feel beautiful with her hair exactly how she wanted it and I was lucky enough to be the person that could do that for her.
Now realistically I’m aware that times have changed and the thought of washing your hair only once a week is enough to get you into the fetal position. What hasn’t changed though is the feeling that each client wants, and should always have, after walking out the door after getting their hair done. Just a chance to Experience Beautiful.
Thanks for listening,
*name has been changed out of respect for the client