Throughout this year, many of us have had to adapt to the reality that several of our “normal” services and routines were no longer available. Things that we’d simply pencil into our calendar apps were put on hiatus for a couple of months, a time TBD, or indefinitely. How people chose to adjust to these changes varied from person to person, depending on what kind of service they no longer had access to. Some people weren’t able to get to their favorite grocery store, so they started a garden at home. Some people saw their school doors close, so they started teaching themselves different skills with the internet’s help. And some people lost access to their favorite salon and stylist, and so they had to try cutting their hair themselves or just let it grow out and go wild. Many of the men and women in that group are probably extra thankful that a lot of our salons are back open today!
This week, we’re joined by Jennifer Woolington! Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Jennifer has been a hairstylist for over twenty-six years and has been serving the Elko area with her skills for the past fourteen. Five days a week, you can currently find Jennifer at New Image Salon on 5th St. We’re sure many of her clients are happy that they get to sit under her magic touch again after months of being unable to do so earlier this year!
Thank you so much for joining us this week, Jennifer. You have been in the hair game for quite a while now; how did you choose this profession in the first place? What are some positive aspects of the field that have factored into you doing it for so long?
“Well, when I was in high school, I wanted to be a pharmacist, but there was no way my family would have been able to afford to send me to college. But my high school offered opportunities where you could learn a trade while you were going through, and one of the trades they offered was doing hair. So, I went through beauty school while I was in high school, and I liked it so much that I just kept doing it after I graduated.
“I like this job because I can be flexible for my kids’ schedules. I also like the variety of my job. I don’t have to do the same thing every day because I’m working on people, and every person is going to be different from another.”
So, every person who comes in and sits in your chair requires a unique experience? Can you expand more on that point?
“We have to do a lot of chemistry when it comes to hair. We have to really look at where a person’s hair is and where we want it to be. I have to structure the same haircut style differently between two people because one’s head might be shaped differently than the other. There are many factors that have to come into play. A person with thin hair may show me a picture of a haircut on someone with coarse hair, and I’ll tell them not to do it because they’ll look bald! I try and translate what they want into what will work best for them, specifically. For example, because of Coronavirus, we’re dealing with a lot grow out, so I have to change many of my clients’ hairstyles because their hair grew out so much since the last time I saw them! And if someone asks me to do something that I know will damage their hair, I will refuse. I will never do anything that will truly damage someone’s hair just to make some money. My name and stamp are on every one of my clients’ heads, and I won’t do anything that will hurt their hair integrity.”
Very interesting! Now, you mentioned Coronavirus, so let’s talk about the non-essential business closers that took place early this past spring. How was the entire experience for you? How long, total, were you unable to work?
“We were closed for two months, and it was really hard. I am such a social person, and I’m used to talking to so many people every day. I get to learn people’s stories. I get to make money by hanging out with people! So, it was hard being isolated like that, not to mention the lack of income. I had some great clients that would Venmo me money or send me a check because they knew I was having a hard time. Many people helped me out during that time, and that’s why I call them family. I’ve lived in other small towns, and I’ve never seen a community help each other as much as this one.”
Speaking of this community, you moved here fourteen years ago for your ex-husband’s job. However, you decided to stay in Elko and continue to thrive. What made you decide that our town was where you wanted to put down roots?
“I decided to stay here because I thought it would be good for my kids’ education, and they’d have more opportunities to participate in the things they were interested in. I feel like the client loyalty is better here than in other places I’ve worked because even though there are many stylists here, I still have clients today that I started working with fourteen years ago! Those clients have become my family because we’ve been through so much together. I know everything about their lives! It’s been an amazing experience living in and working in Elko!
“I love the community, I love doing hair here, and I love the people I’ve met while doing my job! I love seeing people happy and walking out of my door feeling good about themselves!”
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See you around, Elko!