I wanted to tell you guys an interesting story about a recent situation I had with a client. I’ve changed the name of said client, but all of the details and especially what I learned through the interactions we had are very much real.
We’ll call her Rachel because why not?
So Rachel came to see me several months ago for the first time. She’d had a bad experience at the first salon she went to after moving to Denver and had seen my website, so she thought she’d see if I could fix it. Unfortunately, the previous hairdresser had really cut into the face framing in the front and left quite a hole where there should have been a soft, easy frame. The layers were uneven and Rachel was so upset that her gorgeous, long dark hair wasn’t styling how it should.
After a lot of time together discussing our options and where Rachel had originally wanted to go with her hair before the mess up, we decided the best thing would be to take off about 5 inches or so and allow the framing in the front to grow out. It was a huge bummer and neither of us were excited to go back to what felt like starting from scratch, but I knew that until that framing grew out, it would always be really difficult to style and it would take twice as long to blend out if we didn’t take the length now.
So we snipped.
And on that day when Rachel left, it was a weird feeling as a hairdresser. I felt somehow saddened that I couldn’t give her what she wanted. I pride myself on being able to consult well and deliver while exceeding expectations. However, I also understand that I wasn’t the hairdresser that got us here.
Still, it wasn’t a fun feeling to have her leave and know she wasn’t happy.
Every haircut has kind of been that way since I saw her at that first appointment. We’ve been growing out her layers and each time, we’ve had a little excitement to see the growth. But there was still a focus on how much further we had to go in order for her to get back to the hair she loved.
And then, I saw her again recently. I was really happy to see her because as soon as I saw her in the lobby waiting, I knew this would be our haircut. Her layers looked long enough that we could finally take off our standard ½ inch or so on the length and finally have the layers grown out enough that we could shape her entire haircut the way she’d always wanted it and let it grow out from here. I was ecstatic.
So I go through the haircut completely glowing, knowing that we are finally moving past this phase in her hair-story. YES!
But then I get to the end of the haircut and show Rachel all of the angles of her new look in the mirror and she’s sitting there, weighed down with obvious frustration, seemingly unsure what to say. Clearly, she’s not as happy as me.
So we had a conversation. And it was really difficult for me as a woman and as a hairdresser.
It turns out Rachel was still not in love with her haircut. She wanted more layers and felt like her hair was now way too flat and lacking movement. And I was frustrated because I felt like we’d just spent months growing out her layers and getting to this shape. We went back and forth with me shooting out ideas and her and I discussing the impacts of trying them. It kind of felt like we were on a verbal merry-go-round and by the end, I felt really uncomfortable moving forward in any way. I felt like I needed to do some more finishing, but I really didn’t want to make the wrong call given that it’s taken us so long to get to where we were.
The younger hairdresser that I’ve been in the past would have had a harder time letting go of the frustration and grabbing on to the humility that was called for.
But that would have been the younger me.
Instead, I asked Rachel if she would be willing to come back in on another day when I could ask for the assistance of our most senior hairdresser to consult with her and give us a fresh perspective. I told her I valued her as a client and in that, I would put aside any pride I felt at not being able to give her what she wanted and do what I felt was necessary to reach our ultimate goal: her happiness and love for her hair.
She said she’d be willing to do that.
Two days later, I sat down with Malissa, the senior hairdresser I wanted to consult with Rachel. I told her the backstory of what we’d been through and she was gracious enough to agree to spend half an hour with us giving us a new perspective.
Rachel arrived and sat down. After just a few minutes of talking, it was clear that all we needed to do was a bit more texturizing and finishing with the layers to round them out more and take out the weight. Malissa was able to see that immediately, talk Rachel through it as she got started and show me a few new texturizing and finishing tricks as she went.
And we laughed a lot, too. At the situation, at my total fear of doing anything to her hair, at our journey thus far. Just at life and how weird it can be sometimes. As I stood there reflecting on the story I’ve had with Rachel since we met, I was so grateful to feel like we’d gotten through such an often weird and difficult client/hairdresser situation. One that could have easily ended in hurt feelings, another bad haircut, lack of communication and understanding or just simply another negative experience in a salon for her.
At the end, Rachel was in love with her hair. I hadn’t seen her so relieved since I met her.
Malissa was more than happy to invest in me and help me grow.
And I had learned a hell of a lot. About how to texturize in new ways, how to speak to my clients more clearly and effectively. And most importantly, how to set my pride aside and learn to ask for help when it’s needed.