“Get an education. Learn as much as you can because no matter what happens in life, no one can take that away from you. Nobody.” ~my Dad
By Danni Gess
I am a Hair Snob.
I was going to use a more PC term but there it is; out there for you to judge.
The truth of the matter is, my snobbery began a week into beauty school. Completely out of my element and fearful of being mediocre in yet another aspect of my life, I had made the decision if I was going to do this, I was going to be the best at it.
I know. A little obnoxious but why shoot for the moon when you can reach for the stars?
I organized study groups in my classes. Made flash cards and associated myself with the most driven students in the school. I would drill myself for hours by working on my clean partings. Practicing the basics over and over until I could do them in my sleep. When I graduated, I immediately applied to some of the most well known salons in Manhattan only to come to the quick realization that, with my commute, it was an eighty hour week. With small children, it was not a commitment I could make (it was a bitter pill to swallow but we all make our choices). So I applied to the most prestigious salons on Long Island and was accepted at an Intercoiffure salon with a minimum 2 year education program.
The first week I was there, they shut down the salon and had a three day Sassoon class. (I KNOW! Crazy.) I went to classes every week, attended every education seminar, balked when they would want a week off classes for holidays, and had my best friend drive me in for class when I broke my foot and on pain meds (my manikins had very creative haircuts those first two weeks).
I received daily examples of excellence from my boss, who at one point was the creative director for Intercoiffure USA, and from my coworkers and former instructors, who took the time to watch each other’s handiwork everyday and spoke of their craft with words like excellence, quality and drive.
They were deliciously and unabashedly snobby about their education. And I loved every one of them for it.
The knowledge that I needed to hold myself to a higher standard was empowering. Knowing that in between clients I could watch someone slice through hair like their shears were an extension of the hand was something to marvel at. Or witness a carefully crafted updo that defied the laws of gravity for a photo shoot. Every. Friggin. Day.
On the flip side….
It was terrifying. I could not coast through, bluff it, nor slack off. There were expectations to learn techniques that were at times, intimidating. And everyone was aware of what you were doing. I mean…we were snobs. If you weren’t keeping up, it was noticed and recounted.
Prior to my salon life, the thought of being held to such possible ridicule was not only horrifying but my soft mushy heart would have broken. The experience of having to absorb so much information and perform was, at times, anxiety filled but it mostly toughened me. Made me stronger.
I remember when I left that salon and ultimately moved out of state, I made the conscious decision to go to a salon that did not have that level of elitism. I felt I needed a break from the high intensity and perhaps the high expectations that were always carried with me. My co-worker had warned me that I would regret not being in this environment even though I was getting weary of it. And you know what?
I miss it.
At first it was liberating. I began breaking “rules” that lead to experimentation. I exposed myself to things outside the carefully constructed elite bubble that I was existing in. Unfortunately, the high of “being on my own” slowly faded and I was left with Now what?. I was booth renting. Education was not handed to me on a silver platter. I had to find the motivation to aggressively seek it, every day.
If I cannot find a way to grow then what the hell am I doing in this business?
Part of this blog’s purpose, for me, is to capture that thirst for knowledge…. nurture it, and spread it around to as many people who will listen. I want encourage other stylists to raise the bar because greatness can be in one’s grasp if you are driven. I want YOU to be passionate about our craft and perfecting it.
Because I am a hair snob.