Making the call, and breaking up with my stylist, was more dramatic in anticipation than in reality. I was not in a position to simply disappear - I had a previously scheduled appointment that had to be cancelled, not to mention, it just seemed wrong. After sweating it out almost a week, I picked up the phone and I simply told her the truth: I had my hair cut by someone else.
She was surprised. I could hear the disappointment in her voice, but there was no recrimination.
I recently made the decision that my hair needed a change. I see a lot of fabulous hair walking around Campbell due to the ministrations of Iris Torrez - her name is ubiquitous where I work, and a friend even coined a term for what happens after you've been to see her: "You've been Iris-ed." She's a stylist unlike anyone I've ever met or worked with - everything about her is just a little bit different. There's an edge - from her own funky razor-cut hair that is tastefully (and I really mean this) streaked with hot pink - to the downright chill attitude she has towards her client relationships.
At just under two hours, it was the longest haircut I've ever had, but dadgum, it's definitely one of, if not the best. Normally, I leave a salon with a severe case of helmet-head, and it takes a good week of work on my part, and four or five products to really get it to do something I can live with. My visit to Iris was different - I left looking amazing. Even my husband, who is familiar with my condition, noticed. "It's just better." For a guy, that's saying a lot.
Unlike other stylists, who stop to talk to you in the mirror every few minutes, Iris chatted away with me comfortably the entire time but never took her eyes off her work. Her focus on my hair never wavered.
This is a woman who takes her job really seriously.
While she worked, we covered a lot of ground. I wanted to know about her history, how she got into the business, and what sets her apart. I also took advantage of the opportunity to get her side of the client/stylist relationship.
Iris has been cutting hair for 19 plus years, and owes a great deal of her edge to her first salon, Faux, also in downtown Campbell. "The artistry of hair is a passion that drives me! I learned to master and control hair thanks to working at the coolest, most creative salon ever. Through the years I mentored with the Valley's most talented hairstylists. Education mixed with eclectic creativity, and a passion to be the best, has made for an awesome ride!"
Like any profession, continuing education has been the key to her success. Iris has pushed her skill level by attending numerous in-salon classes, and also serving as a teacher to apprentices at Faux. Her talent was further advanced by participation in advance-technique classes at Bumble and Bumble, and Vidal Sassoon Academy. From New York City to Miami, to learning from icons like Damien Carney and Sue Pemberton with Joico, and the coiffing genius from TLC's What Not to Wear, Nick Arrojo - her education goes way beyond local, and way beyond the norm.
After such a positive experience at Faux, I asked what she was now doing at La Bamba. "In July of 2010, I unexpectedly chose to leave Faux. I am enjoying my new digs at La Bamba and Hair, just a few blocks away. At this welcoming, serene salon, I work alongside, innovative, committed hairstylists with years of experience."
Then I asked her the question I myself had struggled with - what are the reasons it's time for a client - or a stylist - to move on? How do you want to hear this from a client?" Clients leave (and should) when they are bored or unhappy." I was pleasantly surprised with her candor when she told me that from time to time she has even encouraged a client to move on. "I will ask a client to move on when repeatedly (after thorough consultation and/or 're-visiting' their cut/color) he or she isn't thrilled with their look."
My favorite nugget of wisdom I gained from Iris was this: "If you want to move on and you're struggling with the 'break-up' - just do it. Send a postcard even, and thank them for their work and service. But then, call it a day. It's important to keep the energy and communication flowing. Find (and keep!) a stylist that is well educated, artistic and passionate."
Iris spent a lot of time talking about the importance of communication with her clients, and keeping it real. "Trust and communication are vital. HAVE FUN! It's hair! I love to re-invent "routine" hairstyles. Try something new, or perfect a classic, timeless style. Hair is the most important accessory you'll ever own."
What about when a cut doesn't go as well as a client expects? What then? Should we call or just stuff-it until the next appointment? "After every service, I encourage my clients to call me, let me know if there is anything that isn't working or is driving them nutty. If someone needs a little extra help with styling/working with their look, or if I need to re-visit the cut or color, it's best to handle it soon after. I prefer to hear if something isn't working out - right away rather than 4- 6 weeks later. There is no need to drive yourself silly, if perhaps all you needed was a quick 're-visit.'"
Having been Iris-ed myself, I have proof-positive that this gal knows what she's talking about. She loves her work, and she loves to use her creativity and passion to craft new looks for appreciative clients. "It's a total pleasure to use my keen skills to transform an ordinary look into a beautiful, polished masterpiece. Luckily, I get to lose myself in my work, have fun and get paid."
by Adelle Gabrielson
Just trying to live with a little grace, a little humor, and great shoes.