I have had the same hairstylist for the last 4 years. She was the one who gave me a dramatically different look a couple of years back, that led to some interesting experiences. You can read it here…
At the beginning of this year, she quit the salon, saying she was starting on her own in a suburb far away from where I lived. She had mentioned in the past about going abroad for a few years or starting on her own one day. But I hadn’t expected it to happen this quickly and was a bit surprised on hearing this. From my brief conversations, 2-3 times a year, I had learnt that she was a single mom and had a lot on her plate. So going it alone seemed like a tough challenge she was taking on. She is a great stylist, but I felt unsure if she had thought through all the aspects of running a business on her own.
While I was happy for her, my heart sank at the prospect of having to look for a new stylist. Short hair is complicated; a single wrong nip has no place to hide and could take months to grow back.
When it was time for a haircut, I was desperate, I couldn’t zero in on any one that I felt comfortable handing over my head to. So I decided that, though it was some distance, I would go and try my old stylist’s new place. I was also in a patronizing mood, thinking that if people like me don’t support her, she would have difficulty surviving. I also thought I will do it this one time, and find another stylist in a convenient location, by the time I’m ready for the next cut. So I went earlier this week, budgeting nearly half a day for the travel and the service. I wasn’t sure what to expect.
As I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the salon. It was a full service salon. She also had a store next door that sold cosmetics. So this was a bigger business than just salon service. She seemed to have a good number of staff and many things appeared to be well thought through.
And as I saw her work there, I saw a very different person. She was the woman in charge. She was the boss here. It was evident. She knew exactly what was going on, who had walked in for what service, who among her staff was attending to the clients and who was slacking off. She subtly got the one slacking off to get up and do a few things. As I waited between the wash and the cut, she connected with new customers, got them to sign up a membership, checked on someone who had finished a treatment and sought feedback on the service. And as she worked on my hair, she gave small lessons on cutting short hair to the other stylist, whom she had hired. I was impressed with the quality of staff she had and asked if she had hired anyone from her previous salon, as she would know their capability. To this she replied, “No, it wouldn’t work. I was a friend then, now I will be a boss”. It reflected her maturity.
As she was finishing the work with me, two men walked up to the door and demanded to speak to someone who ran the salon. They were clear they wanted to talk to the man in charge! My stylist walked outside calmly and told them that she owned the salon and that she could help address whatever the issue was. They were upset about something around the parking space, and insisted on speaking to a man and not her. She didn’t lose her cool, explained to them what had happened and requested them to cooperate. They relented, almost accepted that it was their mistake and left. In dealing with that situation, she had demonstrated her selfhood and effectively used her feminine quality of genteel and elegant firmness to diffuse the situation.
At that moment I realised how much she had taken on as an entrepreneur. Despite her personal situation, she dreamt and kept that dream alive. Today she is seeing it as a reality. Every day brings her new challenges that require her to step out of her comfort zone. She is not only responsible for her own growth, but also for the growth of the people around her. She doesn’t have someone to escalate issues to or leave things to be handled and go home early, or a take a day off! In spite of the many goings on around, I saw her exhibit a great sense of inner freedom and responsibility for the total. She had chosen to be the “one in charge”.
I walked out, with the new look she had given me, proud and inspired, promising myself to return every time. In that brief hour that I spent in her salon, my respect for every woman entrepreneur who has beaten the odds and stepped out on own, grew many fold.
And this women’s day let us celebrate, all the small and big women entrepreneurs around us, who dream and make it happen on their own merit. Let us celebrate the courage of every woman who has chosen to walk the path less travelled and create her own world with undying passion and elegance.
Image credit: Artist- ClaudiAPH; Source- Deviantart.com