ADVENTURES IN RETAIL: Hair therapy at Mulberry Salon

Gerard Ortiz

Hairstyling goes as considerably back again as historic Egypt.  There have been hairdressers in ancient Greece and Rome.  But all have been at the service of rich guys.

It was not until finally the 1600’s—in Paris—that men began styling women’s hair.  Nonetheless, most girls had their extensive hair styled at residence by girls servants.

The 1800’s noticed the starting of hair salons.  Right up until then, there have been generally barbershops.  A significant change happened in the United States all through the Roaring 20’s.  Alongside with an boost in the amount of hair institutions, came bobby pins, rollers, hair color—and brief bobs.  About 25,000 attractiveness parlors and barbershops opened.

The 1940’s noticed the beginning of styling merchandise of all sorts:  hairsprays, perms, shampoos, conditioners, relaxers, perms, waxes, and gels.  As we all know, the range of these “therapeutic” hair products has grown exponentially, so that in the past 20 decades they occupy aisle upon aisle in pharmacies and supermarkets.

Only some of the hair products and solutions available at Mulberry. Photo by Harriet Ziefert

The term “salon,” was invented in the 1950’s.  But for the most component, adult males went to barbers gals to magnificence parlors. It was not right until the 1960’s that the phrase “salon” grew to become more prevalent than splendor parlor.  Sooner or later, guys and girls began frequenting the identical institution and the time period “unisex” salon was born.

In the course of the earlier 25 several years, the salon has expanded to provide other types of treatment: hair treatment, coloration treatment, nail treatment, pores and skin therapy—some also giving therapeutic massage remedy.

A perfectly-recognised statement by Joan Crawford provides an additional support to brain: discuss remedy.  Her terms, “A superior hair stylist is cheaper than a fantastic therapist,are typically quoted and benefit further discussion.

My go-to individual is Caroline Becker at Mulberry Hair Business on Rosseter Street in Wonderful Barrington.  Caroline opened her salon there in 2017 just after relocating her store from Egremont.  Describing her spot, she claims, “There is an upstairs and a bar where people can sit and converse.  I enjoy the feeling of a barber store, a place folks arrive and share and dangle out.”

There is an upstairs and a downstairs at Mulberry. Photo courtesy of Mulberry Hair Business


…and there is a bar the place folks (and furry buddies) can fulfill and speak. Photograph courtesy of Mulberry Hair Firm

Caroline commenced her vocation in 1989 in London at a salon commenced by Raymond Bessone, also know as Mr. Teasy-Weasy. The nickname refers to his chopping technique of snipping off a “teasy-weasy bit listed here and a teasy-weasy little bit there” and not to bouffant, teased hair, preferred at the time.  Bessone turned Britain’s first celeb stylist and qualified the effectively-regarded Vidal Sassoon.

At Bessone’s institution, Caroline discovered that “a salon can be many items.”  She notes that every of the distinct salons exactly where she subsequently labored had a various tradition and personality.

Caroline desires Mulberry to be a warm, discreet, and secure room.  She is familiar with that vulnerability exists for the particular person with damp hair, draped in a cape, who is being touched by another particular person.  As well as, of study course, anything transpires even though the shopper is seeking instantly ahead at himself, or herself, in a substantial, lighted mirror.

Vulnerability exists for the particular person with soaked hair, draped in a cape, who is becoming touched by a further individual. Picture courtesy of Mulberry Hair Company

On one particular of my first visits to her place, I observed a indication that states: “Book a Silent Appointment”.

The silent appointment solution. Image by Harriet Ziefert

Soon I figured out that Caroline is open up to offering her companies with, or without the need of, talk. Caroline stands guiding her shopper.  The customer does not see her experience.  This makes it less complicated for the individual in the chair to share information of his or her life—from the mundane to the personal.

Caroline is pleasurable. And so is her Irish accent.  She has spent several, quite a few several hours mastering the artwork of conversation.  She has the independence to say what she wishes and to withhold the relaxation.  Her ordeals in existence and in operating a salon have taught her a great deal about human conduct.

Proprietor Caroline Becker in the client’s chair. Photograph courtesy of Mulberry Hair Firm

So the work starts.  “What are we executing now?”

Caroline listens intently, interprets and clarifies what her consumer is saying, and receives to work.  But there is extra than just the haircut, or the colour, or the blow dry.  There’s also “the discuss.”  Real dialogue.

I have listened from close by chairs to snippets about: pets, dining places, trip places, hikes, climate, vacations, birthdays and anniversaries, house renovations, universities and faculties, grandchildren, income, on the net buying, dieting, and weddings.

Also, conversations about what to cook dinner for dinner, what Television set displays to check out, and how to uncover a contractor, or a dentist, or a health practitioner.

And questions these kinds of as: “Where can I get my nails finished, or a great therapeutic massage, or a European facial?” Mulberry does not offer you manicures, pedicures, or pores and skin treatment, but tips are politely offered.

Caroline says: “The tradition of my store is a person of regard and inclusion—a spot where folks, whichever their gender, sense relaxed speaking about their desires, as well as a at ease room to unwind and be pampered.  Immediately after 25 a long time of figuring out numerous of the exact customers, we share quite a few everyday living experiences—marriage, children, college or university.”

Caroline at work. Photograph by Harriet Ziefert

Caroline would never presume to be a therapist.  But at times consumers venture into more complicated concerns:  habit and recovery, divorce, disease, get the job done-linked problems, friendship, and dating, to mention just a number of.

They know that what they say will remain with Caroline.  It will not be shared.

From a young hairstylist, I acquired one particular of the initially points taught in elegance school is in no way to engage in conversation with a consumer about the latest political circumstance.  Or an additional client.  Or sexual intercourse.

Beyonce acquired it right when she explained: “If I weren’t executing, I’d be a splendor editor, or a therapist.  I love creativity, but I also really like to support others. My mom was a hairstylist, and they listen to everyone’s challenges like a magnificence therapist!”

When I moved to Great Barrington, I struggled to swap a hairstylist in Boston, who experienced come to be a close friend.  I seemed forward to my appointments wherever we could talk about grandchildren, actual estate, medication, structure, education and learning, art, tunes, and the ups and downs of staying an entrepreneur.   Since my get the job done as an creator leaves me on your own with my thoughts most of the time, I need a hair stylist who is superior at conversation.   All kinds.

It took much more than 8 months right before I observed Caroline Becker.  I comprehend that moving to a new area is full of frustrations, but sooner or later you discover a hair stylist who understands you. And with whom you can speak about things that matter.

The moment I experienced weekly visits to Mulberry, my daily life in the Berkshires undoubtedly grew to become extra lovely.  And so did the color of my hair!

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