Aug 7, 2013

DISCUSSION: The Stylist Struggle

Random Google image -  this lady probably does GREAT hair. LOL!
It has been a month since I got my first sew-in weave. I lost time, money, and a patch of my edges. So rather than do a negative stylist review, I will use my experience to start a discussion. What can we, the clients, do when we come across a stylist who doesn't give good service? If you haven't learned already, not all stylists are created equal. Here are a few signs that you've booked an appointment with a stylist who isn't here for you and a few suggested actions.

Your stylist is tardy for your party. I am not so far removed from frequenting salons that I think that a 3:00 appointment means that you will be in the chair at 3:00. Stylists can encounter unpredictable hair situations; it's easy for them to fall behind schedule. But if you've booked a morning appointment at 10:00 a.m. as first customer of the day, then that "unpredictable" rule doesn't apply. If said stylist is also on Instagram posting outfit of the day pictures at 10:02 a.m. while you're at the salon waiting on their arrival, it's hard to make excuses for why they are more than 20 minutes late to an appointment. The least that can be offered is a text message. Furthermore, it showcases a lack of professionalism. If you don't even take your job seriously enough to respect a patron's time, how can you be trusted to respect their hair?

Suggested solution: If you're in a situation where someone disregards your time, you have the option to LEAVE. Don't give in to the idea that a stylist's license makes their time more valuable than yours. Many salons have a late fee or a late-cancellation fee. This is to ensure that you respect their time and only book appointments that you are willing to keep. After all, they want YOUR money. If the money that you have isn't enough to warrant common courtesy then take that money somewhere else; buy salon services elsewhere. Buy a puppy! Buy whatever you want - because you still have your money and that stylist doesn't.

Your stylist doesn't respect your knowledge of YOUR hair. I know this can be a touchy subject for stylists to deal with. After all, someone who watched four YouTube videos about hair shouldn't possibly think they know someone who put in 100's of hours of training to become a certified cosmetologist/hair stylist/esthetician. But there's a safe ground between letting a client tell you how to do your job and learning from what what your client says about their hair to help you do your job better.

But it's not beyond reason to listen to a client talk about HER OWN hair. When a stylist makes several comments about improper hair care within the natural hair community, it's definitely a sign that she may have issues with natural hair maintenance. For instance, the stylist I went to opted to dry detangle - - - on towel-dried hair! To me, this was a clear sign this stylist didn't understand MY hair. In addition, when a stylist is overly anxious to straighten your naturally kinky/coily hair, BE LEERY, they may not respect your curls!

Suggested solution: Sorry. There really is not much you can do about this. If you clearly explain your hair situation and your stylist just doesn't get it, it's okay to stop trying. If that situation is not essential to your current hair appointment, let it go. You have to pick your battles. And while it may annoy you, it also gives you a clearer picture on what the stylist thinks of your natural hair care. It never hurts to agree to disagree.

Your stylist doesn't offer to do an initial consultation or a follow-up. Sometimes this is very important. A consultation should be done before getting a weave or undergoing any chemical process (protein treatment, color, relaxer, etc.). Everyone's hair is different. A pre-appointment phone call is not unreasonable for first-time clients. A follow-up lets a client know that the stylist cares after they have been paid for the initial service. In addition to completing the hairstyle, a follow-up call is just a good business idea. Personally, any time someone follows up, it increases my chance of returning and becoming a repeat customer.

Suggested solution: Initiate your own consultation or follow-up. You know you want the advice before you show up to an appointment. Why not call the stylist and ask for 15 minutes a day or so before the appointment? If you are having problems with the style or questions about maintenance, call the stylist and ask. Let's be reasonable. You can't expect a stylist to do everything. Is it asking too much to want a stylist to include this? No. But if you don't ask and the stylist doesn't offer... it's ultimately YOU who loses.

And that losing feeling is what we're trying to prevent. When you spend your hard-earned money for a professional touch, you should receive a professional touch. It's frustrating to feel that you have been robbed of that experience. Getting duped just doesn't feel good. You absolutely deserve to walk away feeling worth the $175 you just spent on your hair. Remember: "You is smart, You is beautiful. You is important."

Let us know if we missed some signs. Or share your stylist struggle story in the comment below.

(In case you are wondering why I didn't mention the name of the stylist who did my hair, the writers at Natural in Nashville take care not to bash anyone on the site. When we don't recommend a stylist, we choose to leave them nameless.)
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