We all know that a trip to the hair salon is a full-on social affair. In between sips of champagne and reflections on how much your hair has grown since your last visit, plenty of gossip typically ensues, being friends with your hairdresser and all.
While a hairdresser-client relationship can at times feel over-the-top or slightly phony, one hairstylist tells us there a number of reasons why she finds a genuine connection with many of her clients. Despite how it may seem based on the nature of the conversations in the chair, IGK’s Olivia Casanova considers a fair share of clients legitimate friends.
Below, she explains how her professional relationships evolve into more, and why being friends with your hairdresser is often important.
Mane Addicts: Given the dynamics of a salon professional’s work environment, do you feel pressured to act like friends with clients who you only know through your chair?
Olivia Casanova: I personally never feel pressured to act like a friend with a client whom I only know through the chair. For me, people skills comes naturally. It’s part of the reason I got into the industry. I genuinely want to get to know the person in my chair and create a connection. It doesn’t happen naturally with everyone though, and I don’t push for it if that’s the case.
MA: Whether you feel pressured or not, do you enjoy treating your clients like pals, or would you prefer to keep things totally professional?
OC: I enjoy treating my clients like “pals,” and some of them truly have become friends of mine over the years. I always want my clients to feel comfortable—I want to create a safe space for them. Hairstylists are sort of part therapists, too. As a stylist you’ll go through major life events—both bad and good with your clients—such as pregnancies, divorces, marriages and bankruptcy. I think to a certain extent it’s important to establish a meaningful relationship with your clients.
MA: Have you had an instance when a professional client crossed the line with you in a way that felt inappropriate? If so, how did you maneuver the situation?
OC: I’ve had a few instances where a professional client has crossed the line with me. Nothing necessarily inappropriate, but where I felt like I was taken advantage of for being “friends.” There’ve been times when they felt as though they were entitled to receiving discounted or free services.
MA: Has it been common in your experience to develop legitimate, genuine friendships with clients you only met through work?
OC: I don’t want to say it’s been common, but there’ve definitely been a good number of genuine friendships I have made with clients that I only know through work after doing their hair over the years. When you’re in the industry long enough, you’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands, of different people. You’re bound to have someone sit in your chair who you naturally connect with.
MA: How do you set boundaries with an especially chatty client who you only want to know professionally?
OC: If I need to set boundaries with an exceptionally chatty client that I only want to know professionally, I try not to engage in personal conversation too much—of course always being polite though. I’ll always respond to their questions, but I, myself, won’t be asking them too much, in order to avoid prolonging the conversation.
MA: Is there anything else you’d like to add on this matter?
OC: I think for stylists it’s really important to engage with clients on a deeper level than hair. I’m not saying to force it, but I believe in making your client feel comfortable, especially because it can be intimidating for them walking into a salon at times. You’d be surprised how many clients come in looking for someone to do more than just their hair. You never know someone’s situation at home or in life in general, so it always pays to be kind to them and give them your undivided attention and some conversation if it seems like that’s what they’re looking for. It’s more than just your skills that will keep people coming back.