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The few, the proud, the blonde

A Salonista sits back in the chair and tells her tale.

I'm a Salonista. I started training for it from the first day my Aunt Esther experimented on my hair at her Carousel Beauty Salon up in Marysville. Being introduced to salons at an early age meant I escaped my mamma's haircuts, which was good. It also turned me into a high-end shampoo buyer at a tender age. (What teenager packed Breck or Prell once she'd held Redken in her hands?)

My salon missions began in earnest during my stint at Seattle University. Although the majority of the co-eds on my floor (in all-female Bellarmine Hall) sported the same color hair, thanks to Clairol's Frost & Tip, we were a bit more adventurous when it came to actual hair cuts. The first real salon I recall was Tomoe's, where the Asian haircutters created those cool, geometric cuts we saw in magazines, and lusted over. (Think Twiggy.)

Next came the kind of cutter with only one name. Roberto. Paul. And like a lot of young Seattle women, I did my tour of duty in many, many chairs within the Gene Juarez empire.

I've accepted that there are risks to what I do. That time I tried henna, ending up with dark-black hair so bizarre that my husband walked right past me in a downtown hotel lobby. ("Well, you sorta look like LInda Ronstadt," was his loving attempt to talk me down.)

I don't want to brag, but when you've risen through the ranks, you meet people. That time at Bocz Salon when I sat next to Tom Robbins; Salon Marco on a day that Gov. Chris Gregoire was holding court in the chair next to me. I mingled with the greats at Gary Manuel, Mode Organic Salon, Halo Salon and SEVEN. I am proud to say that Yuki Ohno (father of Gold Medal winner Apolo Ohno) cut my hair years ago at his salon, Yuki's Diffusion.

I've done my time in foreign postings too. San Francisco (Yosh for Hair); Vancouver, BC (Moods Hair Salon, Ian Daburn Salon); New York City (Bumble & Bumble) and Boston. I don't recall the name of that Beantown salon, but my designer had cut Kevin Spacey's hair prior to the actor hitting the big time. Like I said, in this line of work, you meet people.

Those distant salons toughened me up, taught me things. But sooner or later, every Salonista returns to her, uh, roots. Sassoon Salon opened in Seattle on Valentine's Day, and I was there in the first wave. The Sassoon name is new to many of the young things out there but to a veteran like myself, it harkens back to a time long ago. When blondes were fewer, and only the bravest tried henna. When a bold man named Vidal Sassoon made being a Salonista something to be proud of.

Sue Frause is a Whidbey Island freelance writer and photographer. You can reach her at sue@suefrause.com.


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