Loyal Client Story



Client Story – Janet Barry

Janet Barry and Carolann Joy
January 11, 2011
By Larisa Amir

I met Janet Barry, one of C. Joy Salon’s first clients, for tea. This former Superintendent of the Issaquah School District has forty years of service in public education, including experience as the Associate Superintendent of Peoria, Arizona and Superintendent of the Central Kitsap District. Janet’s blonde hair was cut in short piecey layers. With her funky glasses, she looked confident and open, maybe even fun-loving.

“A lovely way to move into retirement.”

Today, Janet holds a teaching position at Washington State University. She has seven grandchildren and four adult children. She also works on superintendent searches and as an expert witness. “It’s been a lovely way to move into retirement,” she said with a laugh. “And I still need hair.”

In 2005, Janet was working sixteen-hour days. “I had other important things going on, and my hair looked that way.”

Janet Barry, Hair Salon LoyalistWhen Janet met Carolann at Exposé Salon, she thought, “This is quite a mismatch.” Carolann, in her early-twenties at the time, looked “very with it,” joked Janet. “We laugh about it now.”

Carolann was sure Janet would be a one-time client. “She was rigid with her hair. She asked for it to be exactly the same, just a little shorter.” I asked Carolann why she thought Janet came back after the first appointment. Carolann laughed and said she didn’t know. She then added, “I got the cut right.” She had listened.

Over the next year, the two got better acquainted, and Carolann recommended gradual style adjustments. I joked that this sounds like dating. Janet nodded and added, “I was looking for someone to trust and grow with.”

Hair Salon client Janet BarryWhen Janet began to prepare for retirement in 2007, Carolann proposed a change in style. They settled on a bob. Janet described it as, “Updated, relaxed, feminine, pretty. We had some growing to do. We went to work on it.”

I was surprised to hear this successful career woman talk about needing to grow, even if it was about her hair. Janet can lead 24 schools through change; changing oneself must be different. The word “we” seemed key here.

Transformation

Janet said, “I knew Carolann as she was growing into her self, into marriage, and motherhood.” I sensed Janet was growing into new interpretations of these roles, too.

Carolann remembers the two talking about “love—lots of love, especially in the last five years. Janet was a staple person I talked to.” And Carolann was able to give to Janet, too. “I’m from a different generation. I’m able to bring something new. She brought something more grounded.”

Carolann added that Janet has seen her grow closer to God. “Ten years ago I had no spiritual side.” I asked how religion came into their conversations. Carolann said, “With questions like: What’s been going on in the last five weeks? How have you been emotionally handling all those changes?” At first I said these aren’t the typical questions you get at a salon, and then I realized they could be; it’s the answers that are unusual. Carolann and Janet talk openly and honestly. Carolann gave me her response to how she handles change, “I turn it to God and don’t keep so much of the burden to myself.”

For both Janet and Carolann, their friendship gives them the chance to share the burden and share the joy.

The ultimate compliment

Hair Salon Redmond, Wa client Janet Barry

Janet pointed to her stylish haircut, new as of six weeks ago. She and Carolann had been plotting a change. On the day of her appointment, Janet still hadn’t decided if she was ready for the new look. Carolann held her scissors to Janet’s hair and said, “Come on. Let me do it. You’re going to love it.” They have a playful partnership. “She enjoys pulling me out, respectfully, gently, and with persistence,” Janet said.

When Janet’s daughters saw her new cut at Thanksgiving they paid her the ultimate compliment: they said she looked edgy. I think she looks thrilled. Carolann’s own style has changed from her early hipster look to a self-assured elegance, a perfect match to her new salon.

Janet told me a favorite quote: “Work is love made visible.” The words are Kahlil Gibran’s. Maybe style is the inner self made visible. Style doesn’t change someone’s life; style is someone’s life.

Caution, with speed and decisiveness

I asked Carolann about how she decided to open her own salon and how her relationship with Janet contributed. “She was supportive. She leaned on the cautious side. She asked all the big questions—like what about parking or the commute.”

When Carolann had the idea of opening a studio salon, she talked to her husband Jordan that morning. They found a location already set up as a studio and went to see it that day. By the end of the week they had signed papers to lease. I was astounded at her speed and decisiveness.

Janet adds, “You won’t understand [Carolann] without seeing her space. Her husband did the floor and walls. It’s a special expression of her person and her purpose, a place where close relationships are formed, without distraction, confusion or chaos.”

Larissa Amir’s writing appears in numerous journals, and she is an assistant editor for “Narrative Magazine.” A Stanford graduate, she also holds a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from Warren Wilson College.

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