Thursday, June 17, 2004

Blow Out

I didn't want to start watching the new show Blow Out on Bravo. It looked like a hair salon version of The Restaurant, which I didn't like (and yes, that's what the show is). But I couldn't help it. I was flipping the channels and it sucked me in.

I justify watching this show by the fact that I used to work in a hair salon not much different than Jonathan. It was probably a little cheaper, but it was a higher end salon. Not Super Cuts or someplace like that. It's interesting to see how the stylists and owner on television compare to the people I used to work with.

I remember when the salon was to open, and there were still men working in there, trying to get as much of it finished as possible before building inspection. It went right down to the wire, just like on the show.

So far, I think Jonathan is a better owner than my boss was. I think my boss ran the business well, but didn't exactly run the employees well. I guess time will tell for Jonathan. I see a bit of cliquishness already, with the people Jonathan seems to be close to. I didn't see the very beginning of the first episode, but I think he knew some of them from before. What matters is, in the long run, will everyone in the salon be in a cohesive group?

That was a problem at my salon. The man who owned it used to work in another salon in town. Several of the stylists and the manicurist also used to work there, or at least with him at some point. When it opened, he already knew these people. They were their own little clique, and I was on the outside. And I was never going to be on the inside. I wasn't as trendy or as shallow as a bunch of them were. I don't think all people who work in hair salons are shallow, and indeed there were some people who worked at my salon who weren't. It was just some of these people. Not only were they vain, but they just had no clue about anything going on in the world other than partying and hair and having fun. I felt like Daria hanging out with the fashion club. There were only a couple of people there who weren't like that, who were open to everybody. Those were the people I liked.

As time went on it seemed more and more like the owner was squeezing the people who weren't like him out. The first few people who were let go deserved to be fired. After that, it just seemed like they made it difficult for anyone not in their little shallow group to work there. I must say I didn't particularly like my job. I wasn't really good at it. Shampooing hair is more difficult than it looks. I would have liked to be the receptionist instead, but they wanted a full-time person for that, and I was only part-time. Instead of working with me to help me improve, I was sort of on my own. I did improve (even some clients told me so) but not because of anything my employer did.

There is a guy on the show, I think his name is Brandon, who really reminds me of one of the stylist I worked with. He was very flamboyant (though in a different way) and just as cocky as Brandon is. He just thought he was God's gift to hair, and the coolest person on earth. He was the kind of guy who was really sweet to your face, and then would rip you to shreds behind your back. The owner seemed to bow to him because he was the stylist who brought in the most money. He was a fabulous hair stylists, and all his clients walked away happy. And they came back. Once he had a huge disagreement with the first receptionist there. I thought the owner handled it really poorly. Even though the stylist was at fault in the disagreement, the owner wanted the receptionist to bend over backward to him. He wasn't going to tell the stylist to shape up because he brought in so much money. The receptionist had a hell of a time working there after that, and was gone soon thereafter. I don't remember if she quit or if she was fired.

I'm not trying to slam hair salons. Not everyone I worked with was evil and vain. And now when I go to other salons, they don't seem to be like that. So maybe it was just the place where I worked. I just think the owner was too young and inexperiened from a business sense.

There were some great things about working in a hair salon. First, free hair cuts and manicures. The only thing we would have to pay for would be product. If I were to get my hair colored (which I never did) I would pay a few dollars for the dye. That's it. Second, the dress code. There were only 2 requirements. First, we couldn't wear blue jeans except for on Fridays. We could wear black jeans, just not blue. And second, just for the shampoo girls (that's me, folks) we had to wear shirts with sleeves - at least short sleeves. Since we would have our armpits over our clients' faces, we had to have them covered. Since then I have realized why that is important. I once had someone wearing a tanktop shampooing my hair. Yeah, like I want to see your armpit. Other than that, we could wear what we liked. Third, the atmosphere is laid back. Let's face it, a salon is a social place. There are always conversations going on with clients, and a generally jovial atmosphere. Fourth, if you are a stylist and a manicurist, you could make good money if you're good at it. And if you have regular clients, you get gifts for Christmas. Big Money Stylist got all kinds of great stuff. I think it would be nice work someplace like that again, but what would I do? I have seriously considered becoming a manicurist or doing facials (I have no desire to ever do hair), but I don't know how much I would like doing that.