Interview With a Hair Stylist

The trust we put in the person who cares for our hair! We put our head in their hands, hands which wield scissors, razors and chemicals.

Over the years friends have discussed the relationship they have with their stylist and also their concerns. How to deal with some delicate issues without offending them. So, I posed those questions to my own hair stylist, Tanya Lefebvre of Spotlight Hair Salon and Day Spa.

Here are my questions and her answers:

Preferred title: Hairdresser? Hairstylist? Cutter?

Senior Hair Stylist

Why did you choose this profession?

Growing up watching my mom doing hair, her passion for it and making people feel great about themselves always intrigued me. I remember going to her salon on my lunch breaks in high school to watch her and to socialize with her clients always so much fun ( plus to get lunch money from her ), and I loved to watch the different techniques she would do, it was such an art. From there I just knew what I wanted to do as a career. What wouldn’t be more rewarding than making people feel fantastic instantaneously, right?!

Describe your ideal client.

This one is hard to answer! There are so many “ ideal” clients. If I had to narrow it down to one, I would have to say, one that had a bit of an idea what he/she wanted, but was open to the idea of something different if I thought the style/cut/colour wouldn’t be best suited for such client. I am an artist so to speak, and I love it when a client gives me free reign sometimes to do whatever I want and to have fun! The reason people come to see me is because they want my professional opinion and expertise. Feedback that clients have always given about me is that they really appreciate my honesty and that I always follow up with something else, instead of just saying the dreaded word that every client hates to hear from their stylist “NO”.

What tips can you give clients heading to the salon?

Be on time, or maybe a few minutes early. You can always have a nice latte or cappuccino while you wait. Arrive 5-10 minutes prior to your appointment so you’re not rushed and you have some time to look at pictures, just in case you didn’t have time to find any

Turn your cell phone to vibrate. If you are expecting an important phone call at least you don’t miss it, but you don’t disturb other guests.

If you want something extremely different than what you already have, be sure to tell the receptionist when booking the appointment so she can allot enough time for you and the stylist.

Have some pictures of styles or colour to give the stylist an idea

of what you are looking for. Be sure to be open minded. Nobody has the same hair texture or density and the lighting in pictures for hair colour can be completely different than that of the picture.

Book for the right service. If you don’t know or you aren’t quite sure then maybe it’s best to book a consultation first so you can talk to the stylist about what you should do.

Speaking of tips, what is the professional perspective on tipping? Percent? What if the stylist is the owner?

Most often it is 15-20% of the total bill. Honestly though, it’s whatever the client feels is the right amount according to the level of service they have received.

Owners typically make a bit less, but I think it should be roughly the same. I am not a business owner so it’s hard to say. Again, it is whatever the client feels is right.

If a client is dissatisfied with the results?

If a client doesn’t like, or isn’t satisfied with the results, please come back! I want to have the opportunity to make that client happy and to fix the problem. In most cases it is a communication breakdown. The Consultation is the most important part of a hair service. Spending the time right from the beginning before even getting into the service is crucial. I like getting to know my client and what their expectations are right from the start. I have heard clients say that they never want to go back to their stylist because A: They don’t want to upset the Hairstylist, B: They are too ashamed for complaining, C: They hated it so much they just didn’t want to ever go back because they are afraid it will get worse. This really upsets me when I hear some of these stories. I can only speak for myself, but I want the opportunity to make it right. After all its my work and my name out there.

Who cuts your hair?

For many years it was my mom, but now it’s the people I work with, or I go to one of my friends that I have known for years. She knows my hair and knows me. That is the great part of being a stylist, you have stylist friends!

Friends have told me that their regular stylist has gone on maternity leave (or away for a while for some reason) and they have been referred to a colleague. They then prefer the new stylist. When their “old” stylist returns they haven’t known what to do or how to handle the situation. Your thoughts on this? 

Since recently having gone through this transition I can now speak from experience. Clients always feel uncomfortable or bad about going back to their previous stylist for a fear of hurting the stylist that has taken over for the past year. It’s one thing if you really like what the current stylist has done with your hair or you get along better with them, or you just have more fun with that stylist. There can be many reasons why people choose to stay instead of switching back. Leaving for a year is a long time to leave this industry. I knew that I was going to lose some clients and most stylists know this before even leaving. If you are one of these clients that just don’t know what to do and the only reason you have for not switching back is that you just don’t know what to do, ask yourself this, “ Which one do you feel most comfortable with”? It takes a very long time to build a clientele and it can be hurtful when you see your clients with someone else. It is all part of the business and I get it, but it does hurt. You grow with your clients, they watch you grow in some cases. Sometimes its not just a client/stylist relationship, it can be client/stylist/friend/confidant.

Final words/thoughts?

Being a stylist has, and continues to be, a huge part of my life. Being a wife, mom and having a full time job can definitely bring drama to ones life, but I love every minute of it. Making people happy and making them feel good about themselves is the most rewarding thing ever. There aren’t too many jobs in this world that can do that. Choosing this profession has had its up and downs, but mostly I have had the opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people!

Thank you Tanya for taking time to write for my blog. I know what a busy life you lead. It is always a delight to put my head in your expert hands. I’ll see you again in a couple of weeks.

You'll receive a lovely welcome.

You’ll receive a lovely welcome.

About etiquetteottawa

Founder and Owner of the Protocol School Of Ottawa
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4 Responses to Interview With a Hair Stylist

  1. karenhickman says:

    Great blog, Suzanne. It is always important to hear about something from another point of view.
    I love my hair stylist. We have become great friends over the 30 plus years she has done my hair. And she knocks herself out for all of her clients. If she ever retires, it will be hard to replace her.

  2. subarjo says:

    I loved to watch the different techniques she would do, it was such an art. From there I just knew what I wanted to do as a career. What wouldn’t be more rewarding than making people feel fantastic instantaneousl

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