When I was five, my paternal grandmother once leaned in close to me and shared a piece of advice that has shaped many of my thoughts. “Never cut your hair. A woman’s hair is her beauty!” I like to think that I gave her the you crazy look because at five I had no control over anything. Other than wiping my own ass but you know, without such events would I have any memories?!?

That one comment, I figure, is also partly why I treasure my hair so much. I’m sure there are other posts on here where I’ve done nothing but complain about the state of black women’s hair here in the great UK. Luckily, I realized early on that complaining wasn’t doing me any good. I had to go out there and find salons. There had to be some quality hair dressers out there.

For the last year, I’ve been going to an alright salon. But I’m always on the lookout for one that’s better. Back in the day, I use to go to a salon in Brooklyn that will go down, in my hair history, as the best salon that ever was!!! I recommended it to every black girlfriend I knew. And though you paid an incredibly large penny, you left there looking your best possible self. It got so for me, that I would call in late to work so I could have my hair appointment early. Getting the most day possible out of my beautiful hair. Trust me – people would stop you on the street after you went to that salon. I hope, someday, to find another salon that could do just that. Maybe, just maybe, it could be in London?!?

So, imagine my surprise when the other day I came across a salon called En-V by Design and saw it filled with attractive, well put together black women. I stopped and put my face to the glass – I was seeing things correctly.  Mind you, I had past that salon several times before but had never noticed. I stepped in and was greeted by a flow of Jamaican & British (read Hackney) accents. I was handed a price list which I quickly went through and figured I just had to give this place a try.

Positivity reigned this morning when I walked into En-V. I was greeted, my coat was hung-up, given a robe and asked if I wanted something to drink. All good signs. Then a lovely girl led me to a seat, where she began to ask me a few questions. As I began to answer the woman sitting besides me – beneath a hair dryer  – started rudely shouting over the girl talking to me:

girl: So when did you have your last-

woman: YOU HAVEN’T HAD HER FILL OUT THE FORM YET.

girl: I’m just asking her-”

woman: GET HER A FORM FIRST THEN…

girl goes to get form…returns and hands it to me.

girl: while you do that I’m-

woman: DID YOU CHECK HER SCALP

girl: about to do-

woman: MAKE SURE YOU CHECK ALL OF IT

girl begins to check scalp.

woman: THROUGHLY GIRL! YOU MISSED A SPOT!

girl (flustered): yes, I will

woman: ANY SCRATCHES?

girl: no.

woman (even louder): ARE YOU SURE?!?! 

I couldn’t believe what I was sitting through. Where were this woman’s manners? Her professionalism? The poor girl looked exasperated and I felt sorry for her. Once the woman got up from beneath the dryer, I asked the girl how long she’d been working there? Because the only logical assumption was that she had just started and must have done something horrendously wrong recently. Two years was her response.

Some people have the tolerance of a saint. That, and I know, they need a job.

Once my head was prepped, the mean woman from the chair came over to me and introduced herself. She’s the owner of En-V by Design. Owner –really- I had put her as underpaid store manager. I prepared myself thinking that her bitchy may come my way. But it didn’t. With me, she was pleasant and smiles; we chatted through the whole root straightening process. She led me to the sink where she then passed the baton back to the girl.

As my hair was being rinsed, the woman’s voice rose once again but this time it was to curse someone who had to be at her apartment. It seemed that her heating hadn’t been working and someone had finally come around to fix it. She came over to me and explained that she’d be running to drop off one of the other ladies that worked there to mind her flat. She’d simply drop her off and return – fifteen minutes! Sure, of course, I say. I still had to get roller set and hair dried. That alone would buy her a half hour. Forty minutes even – plenty of time!

Then why is it, I found myself  sitting on the couch waiting for her?!? And waiting. And, well, waiting?!?! In the end, she stayed to watch the electrician – and I’m 100% sure micro-manage him too. At this point, I could careless and just wanted to be done. Which I was, really quickly,  because I’m a no fuss sort of person. Especially when I’ve already gotten a bad vibe from you. All I wanted was to get out of dodge.

Up and out of the seat, I’m handed back my jacket and as I pull my debit card out the receptionist gives me the oh boy look. It would seem the credit card machine isn’t working weren’t you told. Seriously?!? For fuck’s sake sure I’ll walk two blocks in this cold to an ATM machine. I go and pull out a little bit more than what I had figured the tab to be. Now remember, I had gotten a price list a few days before and had decided to try the new place because according to the list, it was the same as the other place I normally go.

So on my return, I hand the receptionist what I think it’s suppose to be. But I’m wrong, apparently, and am told it is £15 more than I had thought. Umm, what?!?! And why? Oh, because you saw the owner who is the Senior Stylist. Wha? Doesn’t one ask to see the senior stylist. All I did was call and make an appointment. I’ve always been asked before hand when salons work on this sort of pay scheme. This was the final straw which left me so flustered that I paid the extra amount and charged out the door with a chorus of See you soons following me.

As I walked through the cold streets back to my apartment, looking at my reflection with the image of my lack luster hair in shop windows, I’m left to think that the days of the awesome hair salon experience will never be had again. And how much the Dominican hair salons need to find there way to London.

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