I have mulled over this one for a long long time and got more worked up when a fellow influencer expressed her 'yet another bad salon experience'. It is not to attack anyone, neither is it to bring any one particular person or group of people down. Its just merely some thoughts shared on the topic of visiting hair salons and searching for the someone to love our hair the same way we love it, if not more. Its an 'Hello' we need you dear stylist but do right by us kinda of post. It's an 'I am tired of reading about and hearing about salon horror stories in the natural hair community'. The crux of it all is, what if I picked up my bag and walked, what if I didn't take bad service and the harm done to my hair or my scalp or my hairline and just simply stopped before it got to be bad and did not pay and walked. Would it make an impact for change. Change for the better. If we all started doing this, would stylists take it upon themselves to do better, would salon owners hold their stylists more accountable and play a better role in ensuring that their salons - their brand - support the best care of hair and scalps that there is? What can be done to bridge the gap between naturalistahs who have given up and stylists who want to try? (also known as hairdressers/braiders etc). Whatever way this post is taken, good or bad, hopefully we can work together and build each other up from it. Its part one of a 3 part series that I am hoping to get through this month. The focus in this first post is on us - the customer/client.
We have come a long way with embracing and nurturing our hair and guess what, we continue to grow and learn and to do more for it and for us. Fact: The Natural Hair Community and Healthy Hair Community is growing. Each and everyday, someone makes a decision to return to natural. Someone decides that enough is enough with the chemicals and the relaxers. Someone decides enough is enough with the hair loss and hair breakage and wants to understand their hair better. Someone decides that enough is enough with the tight braids and traction alopecia (okay okay, we are still on a long path to recovery with this one but we will get there with the help of all of us one day). Point is, these communities are growing and its not just with naturalistahs, its with women who want to do better for their hair and their children's hair.
One would expect that with this increase in women embracing healthy hair, hair stylists, the ones who we look to to know more and know better, would be encouraging us and nurturing our glorious fros from all aspects. Sadly this is not the case - there are great hair stylists out there, they are just few and far in between. Apart from the stylists themselves there is the hair salons and hair salon owners who maybe if they all worked together would cater to us more and indeed help look after our fros. Maybe they are but I just don't see it. There are 'hair salons/studios literally everywhere and yet many of us still can't find one. Back to us.
I hear you dear sister friend - I hear your pain and disappointment when all you wanted was a particular style or particular hair cut or particular hair colour and alas - you did not get what you wanted. I have been there. I hear you talk about the pain of the braids or cornrows that have just been installed and I hear you cry about the inflamed red bumps on your scalp and hairline from where your hair was pulled too tight. I have been there. I hear you complain about the long wait, that you made an appointment and met your side of the process by getting to the salon on time only to be asked to wait for 10mins which turns into 30mins which even turned into an hour and so forth. I have been there. I hear talk about the unkind glares and long uncomfortable pauses and discomfort when you enter the salon for the very first time, made to feel like you are imposing rather than a much welcomed guest. I have been there and it is one of my pet peeve if there ever was one when it comes to walking through the doors of a salon for the first time. Like don't judge me before you know what it is that I need or want or would like to ask. I can afford your services, and even if I can't at least hear me out and welcome me so that I can come back when I can afford your services. (I said pet peeve right). You don't know me and I don't know you which why I made the first move to come in through your doors. A simple smile and some of your undivided attention will not hurt you.
Above: I had envisioned proper in salon skits being filmed but did not get to them so the above will have to do lol...we can laugh amidst the serious business of saving our scalps and hairlines and hair from harm
So, I thought what if we just picked up our bags or whatever it is that we came into a salon with and left. Stylists and salons needs us and our money just as much as we need them. If they were genuinely there for us, for the good of our scalps and nourishment and nurturing of our hair and not just for our money then maybe we would not be where we are? Like if we are reading and empowering our hair knowledge with the right way of caring for our curls, kinks and coils then why can't they the 'specialists' do the same. An unregulated industry you say. Some people in it just to complete a job and go home regardless of the scalps they may destroy. (I had a conversation about this with a good friend in the industry one day and this brought home some truths my naive self had not thought of). But since its our money that closes the transaction these days then what if we stopped taking the bad service and walked out when they gave us bad service when we arrive.
What if we picked up our bags and walked the moment they put that fine tooth comb to our dry hair and try to detangle our hair. Instead of complaining about being roughly handled and hearing our hair crackle and snap second after second, what if we just told them to stop, picked up our bags and walked out. What if instead of wincing when they pulled our hair too tight, even after repeatedly telling them and they chuckled back to us that 'pain is beauty sweety' well dear sweety ' leave my hair where it is and I am not paying a single cent, byeee'. If stylists won't take the time to learn other methods of handling our hair better then why should we pay for damaged hairlines - why should we pay to be hurt?
What if we picked up our bags the moment we hear them talk about heat or blow waves or whatever the hell they want to call it and we walked out. What if we picked up our bags and walked when they didn't do a hair and scalp analysis in the first place (some salons offer this for free whether you remain for a service or not). This should be tell tale sign of a stylists knowledge or lack thereof.
What if we picked up our bags and walked if they didn't tell us and showed us what products they would be using on our hair. What if we picked up our bags and walked when a stylist would't take our advise of guidance freely given on how our hair likes to be treated. What if we stopped complaining the moment we left the salon and rather pick up our bags and walk before we had something to complain about.
Yes, yes, I understand that we may be desperate and need that protective style regardless of the cost of pain and hair loss we will pay. Yes, yes, I understand that time is not our side and this is the closest salon to us. Yes, yes I understand that they said they could do what we asked and it is not our fault really (but like really, why sit there then?) Yes, yes I understand that sometimes we expect much from a stylist whose passion is to create one day styles and not long terms hair goals for our hair. Yes, yes I understand that we do not have enough courage to pick up our bags and walk ...but what if we are the ones who made our demands and made them clear enough to be heard. What if we took the care of hair into our own hands and we walked away the moment it did not look like our hair was not going to be treated right. Even that of our children. We don't know everything but what if we made the first move and made a start to being treated better and being treated right. What if? Feel free to air your hearts out below.
More to come - as always listen to your hair.