Findlay partners hospitality with hairstyling success
BY TERESA HAMMOND
It’s a description which not only well describes the feeling one gets in Barbara Findlay’s presence, but one which transcends the feeling of the shop she’s occupied close to two decades – comfort.
Now three decades in to her career as a hair stylist, Findlay shares her wisdom as well as her passion for her clients and the space she occupies at the 417 East F Street, Oakdale location of Heads Above The Rest.
“You want to feel like you’re in your own living room cutting someone’s hair and … that’s how it feels,” she said of the shop space and it’s no fuss interior. “You feel like you’re not working. How ‘bout having a job that pays and you feel like you’re not working.”
And that is exactly how Findlay has felt for the past “thirty something” years of reporting for work and creating some style for her clients.
In speaking with the stylist it quickly becomes apparent that her words are far from just for show, they are both heartfelt and genuine and the days have indeed turned into years. When asked how long they’ve been in the current location, Findlay shares “like 16?” Only to quickly be corrected by her chair neighbor, fellow stylist and daughter Bonnie, who recalls an incident in the shop from her childhood which would rival the 16-year guestimate.
“I don’t regret a single day,” Findlay said, eyes twinkling. “I think it’s a great occupation, great occupation and I’m glad my daughter enjoys it too because she gets to see the freedom of having your weekends and calling your hours.”
According to Findlay the shop had a few locations before finally calling its current space one door down from the H-B home. They’ve always hosted three chairs in the shop. One occupied by her, the other by fellow business partner Cris Bartholomew and a third which is now kept busy by her daughter Bonnie.
“We have people come in and out,” she said of past stylists starting their business or trying out a new space, “but it’s nice because it’s quaint in here. You know you don’t have to have high heels.”
Quite the contrary, in some cases.
“There’s been a lot of cow manure come in on the boots,” Findlay shared quite literally. “We just like to be casual here. It just feels comfortable and casual.”
As Findlay speaks of the laid back atmosphere, she attributes it to many things. One key piece being there are no employees to manage in the space. Everyone maintains their own schedules, clients and workload.
“You work as much or as little as you want,” Findlay said. “It’s the kind of occupation that when you have somebody come in, you know when they leave they’re going to be happier than when they came in.”
And that, the owner noted, is exactly that type of response which has sustained the word of mouth business. Advertising has never been an issue for the local shop as clients tend to talk when they’re pleased with the services.
The word of mouth and open ears have earned high praises for Findlay in her 30-plus years of business. The stylist shared the clients, the relationships and the connections are what she enjoys most about the career and the life it has provided her.
When speaking of her passion for the trade and those seeking a similar career path, Findlay is 100 percent supportive.
“If you think it’s something you want to do, at the price of college, this is not a cheap occupation to get into,” she said of current trade school tuition. “If it’s in your mind, hit it right out of school if you can or double do it and get started half in your senior year so you only have a few months when you get out of school. So it can start paying for itself. If you like it go for it. If you figure it’s not for you at the end, at least get your license so you can fall back on it if you have to.”
Considered fortunate to not just love it from the start, but now to see her daughter share the passion and build relations as well, Findlay credits the community of Oakdale and the clients for her success.
“Always the clientele, it’s always going to be about them,” she shared. “The people and the ones you remember. We have some great memorable people that kind of become your extended family.”