The following piece was inspired by conversations that took place as I joined Ms.Tee, Ms. Jimmie, Ms. Pearl, and Ms. Joanna LeNoir, a few of the Greatriarchs, for an afternoon at Jeffrey’s Salon, a new business on 16th Street. Stories shared in the whirlwind of color, washes, and iron outs.
When I consider hair, I am typically drawn to ideas of color and style. Conversations with Jeffrey and Ms. Jimmie that took place one August afternoon at Jeffrey’s Salon, brought my awareness to texture, the intricacy of this aspect of hair.
Ms. Jimmie ran her own salon close to the same building that houses Jeffrey’s on East 16th Street. Her favorite part of the job was experiencing the variety of hair textures that sat in her chair. These thoughts emerged as she admired the curls that CeCe, the natural hair stylist, just finished, holding better this time than last. Ms. Jimmie shared with me that her hair has always been fine. I laughed and told her my hair is so thick that even though half of it is shaved, I appear to have a full head of hair when the long side is flipped over. Though she did not go into detail, sharing specific moments or techniques that she loved, the way she considered the distinct characteristics of hair stayed with me. It was as if she were imagining the tactile experience of different textures of hair falling through her fingers.
There are few people we allow to touch our hair. As children our parents or guardians tame the locks that have been tossed around by days outside, slid through the necks of t-shirts. As we get older we sometimes invite friends to fashion our hair into different styles, pigtails and braids. But it is not long before allowing someone to run their fingers through our hair is seen as an intimate act, reserved for lovers.
Lovers and hairdressers.
There is a lot that goes into choosing someone to consistently perform the service of cutting our hair. We choose a person who sees us, a person we connect with in addition to their technical proficiency. That person learns the way our hair holds color, heat, and style while also learning about our lives. The nuances of our hair and the elements of our personality mirroring one another. The salon, the barber shop, are a collision of those individual experiences. Moments of connection add up, becoming a place for the neighborhood to convene. One afternoon at Jeffrey’s Salon, a taste of those experiences, the room full of laughter, stories falling from each of our mouths.
With a glow in his eyes Jeffrey likened different types of hair to the raw materials used to create a work of art, each with their own characteristics and beauty. He wants the salon to be a place where people with all different textures of hair can find the products and services they need while experiencing a deep sense of community.