An Ode To Julia – My Hairdresser for the Last 20 Years.

In a piece of sad news, my hairdresser Julia has just retired. She didn’t tell me; not even 50 and retired – good on her. I was told by her apprentice when I went in for my regularly scheduled haircut and the apprentice cut my hair. I am in mourning, I never got to  say ‘goodbye’ I’ve dreamed of riding silently into the sunset but now I couldn’t do it to my customers –there will have to be a farewell party.

I’ve been going to Julia since I was 11 or 12. And in a moment of ‘what am I going to do now?’ I am kind of lost.

I’m pretty sure my hair will get cut again. It’s more the sense of loss I felt at no longer being one of Julia’s. The last time she changed salons, she called me and told me and I followed her right out the door. I think she’s worked at three or four I followed her out the door each time.

I know a lot of salons have retention problems when a stylist leaves – they take your customers with them. And I can finally empathise, there was a part of me that cringed at the idea of not getting Julia to cut my hair. During the writing last sentence I entertained the thought that getting Julia’s home number and making her cut my hair might be a good move.

The Power of Relationship

I am by no means a valuable customer for any hairdresser. I get a basic haircut 5 times a year – probably 1 out 10 on the hairdresser interest scale and degree of difficulty. Almost no money in me – no one would bat an eyelid if I left.

I will show up like clockwork until I have a reason not to. In fact the last time Julia took an extended leave form haircuts, I shaved my head, bought a set of clippers and self administered head shavings until my mum mentioned that Julia was back.

Why I kept going to Julia was because for the 20 or so minutes I was there we could talk all sorts of ‘weird rubbish’ – my idea of paradise. It was the experience of getting my haircut with her. Not the haircut, that kept me coming back. It was the fun. I was entertained and she was entertained. It worked.

If there is a risk of your customers following a staff member out the door you need to be counteracting that by building a relationship with them too. But this article is about my feelings not marketing advice.

Julia was the one who tended my lovely long locks to fully grown twice now. (every hairdresser I’ve ever seen has said they would kill for my hair). My hair has two lengths where it is good. Shaved and so long it can be tied back. Anything in between and it is a ‘choose your own adventure in styling.’ There is no product short of super glue that can keep it styled for longer than an hour.

The first time I grew my hair long in high school, Julia coaxed me to turn it into a style lab for her to keep it interesting for her. Starting with blond highlights, it progressed to every imaginable colour under the sun, midnight blue, red, orange, black.

For the last day of school everyone expected I would finally shave my head – I rocked up with red hair and a spiral perm, one of Julia’s ideas. My friends said I looked like Slash from Guns and Roses (I was mortified – I hate 80’s music barring Operation Ivy and about 5 other bands known as 90s bands that actually formed in the 80s. ).

Julia was there when I did finally cut my hair short when I was at Uni. Because of a man crush on Danny Glass the drummer from the Royal Crown Revue (the band in The Mask). Julia was back cutting hair again when I decided to grow my hair long again. I had gotten sick of short hair and working for myself I finally felt okay with not looking like ‘Da Man.’

Good bye Juila where ever you are.