I was four years old when my mom went to beauty school.
It was the early seventies and we lived in South Arkansas. My mom has always been very stylish and expressive with her hair, makeup and dress and during that time I thought she was glamourous.
When I was around the age of six my mom opened her very own salon, Salon LaRue. It was named after me, well, my middle name anyway. Hanging out in the salon with my mom was such an adventure. Women laughing and sharing stories of their children, their husbands or boyfriends, their dreams, their lives. I felt like I had a front row seat into a secret sisterhood. When women would leave they would hug my mom and look so happy; they were equipped and ready to take on the world. Fast forward a lifetime and I own my very own salon in Northwest Arkansas and it is called, Salon LaRue. The name is a way to honor my mother and her legacy, and who doesn’t like having something named after themselves?
My salon is eclectic in decoration. I like quirky and different.
Lots of conversation pieces. For instance, the basket on the wall that holds my color was a bread basket my brother had on his truck when he owned a bread route in the early 90’s. Twinkle lights run across one wall and there is even a painting of a “bearded lady” recreated to honor me. A friend has a line of paintings representing people from carnivals, like the strong man and the bearded lady. When he asked me which was my favorite I never expected to be gifted such an original piece of art.
My capes hang from a cute flamingo head and a single flamingo feather is framed and sits on a shelf by the shampoo bowl.
I love what I do, from the basic hair trims for maintenance to color processes that take eight hours, I love it all. Mostly, I love people. I love connecting with people and sharing with people. I love hearing the stories of their lives.
I often hear hopes, dreams and sentences not uttered aloud before.
The main reason I am a lone stylist is because building relationships is important to me. I want people to feel like they can share their story without wondering who else is listening. You can go anywhere and have your hair cut, colored and styled, but you can’t go anywhere where you will find a more sincere and caring person. When people leave my salon I want them to look great, but I also want them to leave a little fuller of life than when they arrived.
My favorite text is a message from a client that says, “I need some Sam time and a haircut. What’s available?”
Several of my clients refer to our time together as “hair therapy”. Hair therapy happens when hair grooming mixes with a relaxed atmosphere where it isn’t awkward to be transparent about one’s feelings. A laid back, non judgmental space is what I hope I have created. Oh, and laughter, lots of laugher.
Hair Therapy with Kendall
Recently, a new client came in to have her hair cut. Like so many people, she was nervous about having someone new cut her hair. There are some people out there with messed up haircut stories. I’ve heard stories of people walking into salons with hair down their backs, asking for a trim and leaving with a shoulder length bob. I’ve never understood that part.
Anyway, the consultation is a series of questions, like, how long has it been since your last haircut? How many times a week do you shampoo? Do you blow dry and style your hair or do you let it air dry? How much time do you spend fixing your hair in the mornings? And, what products do you use?
Asking these questions does many things. One, it let’s her know I care about the basic stuff. And two, it tells me how to style her hair so that what we create in the salon can be recreated at home. What good is it to do a style she can’t or won’t recreate at home? If she is an air dry kind of girl there is no point in round brushing and backcombing to get a style.
Through a few more open ended questions I found out she is a student at the University of Arkansas and she was very easy to talk to. She shared stories about her family, her future and her past. I have found no matter our ages, we are all more alike than we think. At our core we all just want to be heard, don’t we?
We were able to touch on many similarities and I even got in a few chicken stories. In fact, after the haircut we went outside for a little meet and greet with the ladies. And laughter, we shared lots of laughter.
When you look good, you feel good and a good haircut can change someone’s life.
A haircut isn’t something you can shortcut or rush through. There is a methodical process. Hair time is something I take very seriously. I like to think of hair therapy as a reprieve, a respite, from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We spend so much time disconnected and caught up in our devices that maybe, just the simple act of sitting still, talking and having our haircut is the soothing therapy we all need.
Be you, Be beautiful, Be imperfect