So. Solve me a riddle:
A long hair + queer/edgy + not too trendy + no maintenance + no styling kinda girl needs a hair cut. Also I sweat a ton and wear bike helmets on my way out on the weekends, so.
I realized I needed to take my own advice to prospective clients to solve this puzzle.
1) Find a place with the right vibe.
Do not fret about finding the very BEST person. Perhaps you are not getting the best hairstylist. What I have come to terms with is that, in Los Angeles, I'm not going to have the best anything--at least not right now. But I will be totally able to find the right hairstylist. I want somebody who does not want to talk to me at length about their boyfriend, and who is willing to tell me I'm full of shit. I want someone who is good with a pair of scissors and who makes a lot of people look fantastic.
2) Just invest already.
I did not get the most expensive haircut. I did not even get the most expensive haircut at this salon. That haircut is $400+ and see above about me not having the best anything yet. But I shelled out. I did not Groupon it. I did not choose the juniorest stylist. I only do this shit once every three years. Broken down over three years, that's eight cents a day. I found nine cents on the ground the other day. We're good.
In return, I got people who knew who I was. I got a massage. I got a tip about where to buy the most adorable eyeglasses, on sale. I got a competent and charming hairstylist who gave me a great haircut that fulfilled all the above ridiculous requests.
3) Remember the long game.
Because I only get a hair cut every three years, I'm more or less oblivious to the skills and knowledge I could avail myself of at a hair salon. I basically know that I can go into any hair salon, give them a three minute chat and walk out with less money and less hairs. Sometimes that's good enough. But I'm beginning to realize that these people are like, good at what they do (see tip #2) and will totally help you out beyond that stuff. Once you find somebody you like, then they get to know you, and when you're like, "Hey, but I want a WEIRD haircut," they know what you mean. They're not worried that you're going to cry because your hair is a quarter inch too short.
4) Give direction.
There's nothing worse on a project (well, ALMOST nothing worse) than a client who just says: "Whatever you think is best. You're the pro."
Before you find that client, you're like, "MAN, wish my clients would just let me do what I want." When you first meet that client, you're like, "Fantastic! I'm gonna make the dreamiest project ever!" Then you give it to them and they cry because it's not in comic sans or whatever it is their heart secretly desired.
Sometimes the client is decent about it and they just apologize for not knowing what they want. More often there are struggles.
I used to walk into the salon and be like, 'I don't know; make me look great' because I was afraid of what I didn't know. What if I wanted a haircut that really only looks good on Kate Moss? So now I do what I wish all clients did: I tell them what the problem is (see above) and then ask what they think. Then they suggest things and we have a damn grown-up collaborative conversation and I get a haircut I think is super foxy. I try not to come with a solution in mind, because frankly, that's her job. I bring the parameters and the dollars, she brings the experience and the solutions.
5) They know things you have not ever dreamed of.
Today I expressed some anxieties that cutting my hair so short would result in lumpy headedness. My stylist was like, "Please, as if I would not know how to deal with that". She subtly laid down some knowledge on me about how you can totally OBSCURE DIMPLES WITH DIFFERENT LENGTHS OF HAIR. Like, you can give a haircut that makes you look like you have a beautifully round head. The dimples are escapable. I mean, you hire somebody who is cheap and new at life, dimples are not escapable. A pro knows what's up. They're fixing problems you did not even realize could happen, nor that they were being fixed. A pro works magic.
6) Trust the process.
They want to start you with a shoulder and neck massage/destress experience? Go with it. They want you to wear a gray t-shirt because reasons? Go with it. They offer you tea? Say yes. People don't do this stuff just because. They do this because a) you like it and want to come back and b) it makes everything go more smoothly. I wish I could offer some massage and aromatherapy at kickoff meetings (actually....) because a less stressed out person is a person who communicates better and doesn't freak about the small stuff. You have tea because it distracts you from waiting. Would you rather wait impatiently or would you rather have a cup of tea? That's what I thought.