After having been a hairstylist for 20 years, I have created a few rules that I try live by to make my life a bit easier. One of those rules is NEVER EVER become (Good) friends with your clients.
There are a few reasons for this but the main one is this:
Once a hairstylist and client become friends, i.e.; going out to eat, sharing intimate secrets, trading daycare, etc. the Client/Friend expects to have their hair done for free. I have made this mistake a few times in my career and therefore have had to learn this the hard way.
I’m sure you are sitting there thinking, Michelle, if you are friends with this person it shouldn’t be an issue, right? WRONG! While hairstyling may not seem to be much of a job to some people, (after all it is a really fun job) it is still a job. Actually a Career. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on my career and continuing education. I also have to spend thousands of dollars on my equipment and products and booth rental every month. Most salons want a 50/50 split in commission and they want to keep all of our clients as if they did all the work getting and keeping them for you. So my point here is, this job can cost a lot of money to practice and no one should expect something for free. I have great friends from long before becoming a hairstylist, that I am still friends with to this day and I won’t do their hair because of this. I do my son’s hair for free and my mother’s and I make her take me to lunch afterwards. I do my extended family also, but if they complain about one little thing they are OUT. If you get something for free and all you can do is complain about it then maybe you should go and pay someone so you CAN bitch about it. Hairstylists, no matter how talented or expensive still have bad hair days. When you become friends with one, the assumption is there that what we do all day is have fun and make money and since you are friends it should always be this way and it should be free.
Let’s chat about Boundaries and Respect.
Boundaries include ‘expecting’ your hairstylist BFF to just fit you in because you forgot you had an upcoming engagement, vacation, date, baby shower, etc. Or, to do your hair at home because you are sick, down in the dumps, too lazy to make an appointment… see above sentence. It is not easy for your hairstylist friend to just PACK everything up and pop over to your house to “throw” in a few highlights to “hold” you over until your next appointment. There’s a reason there are BIG mirrors in front of and behind your ass, a chair that goes up and down to sit your ass in and a shampoo bowl for you to lie back in. It is hard on our backs/shoulders/knees/feet to do hair anywhere but a salon. Unless, of course, we are getting paid a lot of money to be uncomfortable that uncomfortable. I charge a travel fee along with an hourly rate for “On Location” services. Hey, gas is expensive and so is my time. Also, the older we get the harder this type of traveling becomes.
Respect is essentially the same. I have actually had Client Friends get angry with me when I couldn’t just drop everything and come running because they were having a bad hair day. [They] decided to cut their bangs or color their own hair (admit it we have all done this) and ended up with a mess. I get really pissy when I have spent my time and energy on getting your hair that perfect cut or shade of blonde only to have you screw it all up. All because you’re PMSing or had a fight with your boyfriend you decided to make a “little” change yourself. You really have no idea until you fuck your own hair up and call your hairstylist friend to fix it how much you really don’t know about hair. And you don’t want to pay us to fix your ‘mistake’? I also have had friends who thought I should do their husbands/children/mother-in-law for free too. I have lost ‘client friends’ because I have said no. So that means I lost a client AND a friend. Boooo. I don’t mind helping people out when they are down. I have done a lot of “free” hair since the economy took a dump and people have lost jobs. But I have also lost clients when I have helped them out. Women are funny creatures and men follow suit. I don’t mind. I know it will come back to me in the form of a new client or bigger tip somewhere down the road.
What brought me to talk about this in the first place was a receptionist friend from a salon I no longer work at sent her mother to come and stay with me for a few days (that turned into a week…another post for sure.) Right before the woman got on the plane to come here she told a new stylist what she wanted and got it (because her hair actually looked great) but of course she didn’t like it. She called her daughter complaining about how awful her hair was right in front of me and her daughter told her that I would fix it! WHAT?? No one asked me… This woman expected me to “fix” her already perfect hair for free. I tried explaining to her why I wouldn’t and she spent the whole week pulling, tugging, brushing and bitching about her hair ad nauseam. Now you’re probably wondering why in the world I didn’t just take her to my salon, and throw a few highlights in her hair just to shut her up. Believe me I thought about it and almost did it but this is all about boundaries and at the end of the day she wouldn’t have understood why she was having to pay for her hair and why I wouldn’t do it for free. Lady, You are staying at my home, using my car and gas and usurping all my free time. I am not doing your hair for free too. And beside that… I still have to pay the salon.
So keep in mind the next time you are sitting in your stylists chair that he/she is doing their JOB. The JOB that helps them pay their bills and live their lives. And if they do offer you a freebie at some point, make an attempt to pay them back somehow. The highest form of flattery in this business is sending us new clients… a big fat tip is nice too!
No, I do not become friends with my clients any longer but I do still love to chat with them while they are in my chair and occasionally go for a quick glass of wine if the conversation is especially engaging. (I still love gossip.) I want you to tell me your problems and know that you can trust me while you are sitting in my chair. I want you to feel beautiful when you walk out and better than you did when you walked in. I also want you to pay me what everyone else does with no expectations of a discount or freebie, only expectations of beautiful hair.