- Edition 2, Chapter 14-
“There’s so much emotion in this hair,” Paulette remarked, looking down at and nostalgically clutching 17 inches of her own. It was attached to her head until two minutes prior and removed with a pair of shears by Hairstory stylist Wes Sharpton, who paused his cutting and smiled reassuringly. Her eyes glistened briefly as she stared at herself in the mirror, then sat up straighter in the chair. “Ok, I’m ready.”
Paulette came to Hairstory in search of what many of our models come for: change. The petite, exuberant, young dancer was tired of her overtly feminine look. The fine hair that had grown just past her waist had begun to feel like a curtain to hide behind, and she believed our studio was the place to reveal a new self. And so, she chopped it… once, twice, then a final time. The first cut rested at her shoulders; the second sat just below her chin, and the last fell just below her ear, giving a new edginess to her sweet face. “With someone who has that much length who’s decided to cut their hair off, I felt that it was important to document the process,” Wes commented afterward. “As a result of this, as we moved forward, she was more open and eager to really go for the final version.”
Wes has shown us time and again that listening to a client’s verbal and nonverbal cues is of the utmost importance to giving them what they want. In Paulette’s case, he was acutely aware of the overwhelming nature of lopping off so much hair at once and how difficult the process could be. He could sense that she really wanted to change, but that she had no idea where to begin. Hair is identity, and changing it dramatically can be overwhelming; saying goodbye to the familiar can open an emotional can of worms.
After the initial consultation, it was agreed that if Paulette was ready to go to cheekbone length as Wes recommended, stopping at the shoulder would allow her the chance to breathe and think about it while her photo was taken. “You can always stop here,” Wes assured her, “but I think bringing it up a little more would look great on you.” It was clear that Wes was earning Paulette’s trust, “I felt that I had a responsibility to her as a person, and not just to achieving the final look. I think that was a big moment for her, when she realized that I genuinely cared about how she felt and looked. It was easier for her to let go.”
After Paulette’s second cut, Wes wisely sat her down on a sofa with a cup of chamomile tea and a binder full of our favorite short cuts. “We can always go shorter than that,” he said, meeting her eyes, “but there’s no pressure.” Paulette sipped, and leafed through photos of perfectly cropped, chic, or casual short cuts. As she reached the bottom of her cup, we heard her whisper to herself, “No. It’s time to go shorter. I’m going to be a bad-ass bitch!” A shift had occurred. Paulette was not only mentally prepared for change, but also emotionally ready to let go. And so Wes cut it once more – a clean crop just below the ear that made her look perfectly sophisticated.