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My first job was as a Saturday assistant in a hair salon when I was 15. The salon was owned by a Greek guy who fancied himself as a bit of a Vidal Sassoon. Unfortunately, the clientele was more the shampoo-and-set crowd than the asymmetric bob type. Overall, the clients were a sweet bunch of older ladies, who, as I washed their hair (usually rock hard from daily hair spray applications), would regale me with tales about when they were young and how the youth of today had no appreciation of the hardships they had faced. My other duties were to sweep the hair off the floor and make copious amounts of tea and coffee. My least favorite task was neutralizing perms. It was the Eighties, so we did a lot of them! I was paid around $12 a day, and made another $5 in tips—on occasion, a client would have had a big win at bingo and would pass on some of the good fortune to me, telling me to treat myself to something nice.
The major perk was that I got my hair taken care of for free, and I always went home Saturday night with a fresh blowout. And yes, I did have a perm around this time—didn’t everyone?
I also picked up a valuable beauty tip from one of the stylists. By the end of the day, my hands would be sore and dry from having them in water all day. She told me to add regular sugar to olive oil and rub my hands with it—it was amazing, better than any hand cream. At the time, I had no idea what type of career lay ahead of me so it’s a coincidence that my first taste of employment was actually in the industry that I love so very much today.