Hair's to a special relationship

Earlham hairdressing salon in October 1966.

IN THE STYLIST'S CHAIR: Flashback to 1966 and a busy day at a hairdressing salon in Earlham. - Credit: Archant

You confide in each other. You have a laugh together and regularly catch up on each other's news. Plus they try to make you look and feel your best ....
That's a recipe for a great friendship - but also for the perfect relationship with your hairdresser. When you find a good barber or hairdresser that you really (hair) gel with, it's something to cherish.
Some of us hit lucky and faithfully stick with the same hairdresser for years of cuts, washes and blow-dries, restyles and colours. Some will even follow them through their careers to different salons. And certainly a few of us will know that sinking feeling when a favourite stylist announces they are going on maternity leave or quitting the business – I've heard of women travelling more than 100 miles to visit their favourite hairdresser after they've moved away.

Students at work at the Dereham Academy of Ladies Hairdressing in the town's Labour Hall in 1960.

LEARNING THEIR CRAFT: Students at work at the Dereham Academy of Ladies Hairdressing in the town’s Labour Hall in 1960. The Academy was the first of its kind in East Anglia and was started by Patricia Beck of Beetley. - Credit: Archant

THROUGH THICK AND THINNING
I've had my hair cut by Norwich hair stylist Claire Miller for more than 15 years. She'd first cut my son's hair when he was at primary school, then gave my daughter her first 'proper' haircut – a cute little bob – so we were already friends by the time she set to work on me.
She's taken me through choppy cuts, sleek bobs, short styles and long, and she helped me find a totally new look post-chemotherapy with cropped, dyed blonde hair! But it's much more than changing hairstyles we've gone through together ... there have been the joys and trials of motherhood, the challenges of health problems and operations, changes in our careers and our lives. The stuff of 15 years that we've shared in the three salons Claire has worked in during that time.

Claire Miller of In-Trim Hairdesigns in Norwich.

"YOU HAVE TO BE A PEOPLE PERSON": Claire Miller of In-Trim Hairdesigns in Norwich. - Credit: Archant


While she cut my hair recently at the In-Trim Hairdesigns salon on Borrowdale Drive,  in Norwich, we chatted about that special link that forms between hairdressers and their clients.
"Often younger people will try out various different salons and stylists, but by the time they are in their 30s, if they have found someone they like and trust to do their hair, they are going to stay with them," says Claire.

"You have to be a people person, and to know how to talk to people," she says. "Sometimes you feel like a counsellor as well as a hairdresser because you hear so many stories from your clients. But you know you are being confided in and then it's knowing how to respond."
We always pick up our conversations months on when it's time for my next appointment, and I'm always fascinated by how hairdressers have that ability to remember what they talked about with so many different clients.
"It's strange," laughs Claire, "I don't know what I had for tea last night, but I can remember things like my clients' parents’ names and what's happening in their lives!"
Of course not everyone likes to talk while at the hairdressers, and in fact some salons are now offering 'no talking cuts' for those who prefer to have some silence while they are in the stylist's chair.
"It's about assessing each client's needs and how to react to them," says Claire, who was one of the Norwich hairdressers and beauticians to attend a special training course on how to react should a customer show signs of domestic abuse.

Norwich City College hairdressing students in 1985.

WASH AND SET: Norwich City College hairdressing students back in 1985. - Credit: Archant


For Claire, the customer interaction is something she loves about the job and which she has cultivated throughout her working life, at Norwich city centre salons Transformer and Nigel Alexandre and now at In-Trim Hairdesigns, where she moved last November with colleague and friend Tasha Kersley.
"It's about being human and caring about people," says Claire.
"A lot of my clients have been with me throughout all those years and they are my friends and like family to me now.
"They come in for a haircut, of course, but it's so much more than that. You want them to look and feel good, but you also want them to feel uplifted by the experience." 

How long have you been to your hairdresser or barber? We'd love to hear from you if you've been visiting the same salon or stylist for many years. Email us at letstalk@archant.co.uk