(This was originally posted in July, 2014. I felt I had to edit and share it again. Thank you for understanding.)
With two very brief exceptions, I have been a hairstylist my whole adult life. I got my licence in 1976 in New York and I find it hard to believe time has gone by so quickly! In all that time as a stylist, I’ve only had three bosses.
The first demanded the very best of us and gave us the very best of everything in return. She provided a state-of-the-art salon and education for us, both on a professional level, and a personal-growth level. I owe much of who I’ve become to her. Though we didn’t part on the best of terms, I feel a profound love and gratitude for her strength and vision. I see that her expectations of me, though grand, were nothing more than she asked of herself, and nothing I couldn’t have lived up to. I told her this a couple years ago, and we are now on good terms.
After her, I rented a studio from a sweet man for almost 14 years…he was kind, affable, and always in a good mood. All he wanted was for us to have a good life, have fun, and respect each other. He would have loved it if we had become one-big-happy-family. He regularly pointed out how lucky we were to be self-employed stylists, and if you forgot what those reasons were, he’d gladly recite them. He passed away a couple of years ago…and I am grateful that he knew how much I loved him.
I briefly had my second boss after him. It was not a good fit for either of us, and I left after a year. ‘Nough said.
I have had the good fortune to work part-time for my third boss, Josh, for three years now, although I have known him for many more. He is another salon owner that truly wants his staff to be happy and successful. And for more than twenty years, he and Bella Salon have been a fixture on the Austin scene.
Josh found out that he had lung cancer shortly after I began. Three years later he is in Hospice care and will pass out of this world any day now. My heart is breaking as I think about Bella without Josh. He made sure we know everything will be okay, the salon will go on. And he has worked right beside us, surrounded by his clients and his beautiful orchids, until it became impossible to do so.
Last week before he left he stood in the doorway of our room, hands in his pockets, and watched us with our clients. He smiled beatifically, taking it all in, as if to remember every bit of it. His presence there felt like a benediction.
Josh was passionate about hairdressing – so much so that he’d rather be at the salon than almost anywhere else. We should all feel so passionate about what we do! Bella will indeed go on, we are professionals who also love what we do. We will follow Josh’s example, continue what he began, and live up to the credo at our entrance.
Godspeed, my friend. Until we meet again.