Antibiotics and comfort reading did the trick. By Tuesday I wasn’t sick any more, but I was still feeling sorry for myself, so I went for another guaranteed pick-me-up that should be available on prescription – a great haircut.
Hairdressers and romance writers have a lot in common. Good ones build up a devoted (predominantly female) following, bring a great deal of pleasure to a great many people, and do it by deploying hard-earned creative and technical skills that go largely unacknowledged outside their own community.
A lifetime ago I took a job that included responsibility for the business side of some well-known salons. I was amazed at what I discovered. A successful hairstylist/client relationship is mind-bogglingly strong. Many last a lifetime, and I mean that literally. A friend of mine gave her stylist a plate to celebrate ‘their’ 25th anniversary. Clients will follow their favorite stylist across a country or even a continent, and it’s not at all unusual for a hairdresser to be an honoured guest at a client’s wedding or birthday bash, their child’s christening, or some other significant life event. So far I’ve only had to follow my stylist, the wonderful Joel Goncalves, across town from one London salon to another, but if he ventured further afield I’m pretty sure I’d be hot on his trail.
Last week at the RT Booklovers’ convention in New Orleans, historical romance author Courtney Milan gave a presentation called Building A Sticky Digital Readership, talking about specific ways that an author can build a digital readership that ‘sticks’ to them, book by book (wish I could have been there, but I’m hoping perhaps the same talk might be on the program at RWA National in San Antonio). It must have been on my mind as I unwound in the salon chair and let Joel work his magic, because I started to wonder just what makes his clientele so ‘sticky’, and what I could learn from it.
Here’s what I came up with:
- We’re well matched. Not only is his styling technically excellent, but it’s my kind of thing. I’m the right client for the kind of creative work he likes to do.
- He knows what’s in fashion, but he doesn’t chase trends. I know I won’t finish up with something I didn’t sign up for, just because it’s hot at the moment.
- He’s innovative. The changes are subtle, but he always offers something new every time I see him.
- He genuinely wants feedback and is always looking for ways to improve his work.
- He does work that’s as good if not better when you revisit it the next day, and the next week.
- He doesn’t rush. He’d rather get it right than squeeze another client in and make more money.
- Until it’s done to his satisfaction, you’re going nowhere.
- He systematically fills the creative well. He deliberately chooses to do a mixture of session work (photo shoots etc) and salon clients to keep himself inspired. It works! Check out some of his beautiful photo shoot hair here.
I think that boils down to a very simple message: be true to yourself and do the very best work you can. Rinse and repeat. Or step by step: follow your Girls, don’t chase the market, keep it fresh, be open to criticism, don’t send something out until it’s ready, and make sure you keep refilling the creative well. Sound right?
Are you a longstanding client of a hairdresser, or a beautician, or a restaurant? Why do you think they’re ‘sticky’, and are there lessons we could learn from them?
Oh – and for any Londoners reading this, you can find the fabulous Joel at Daniel Galvin on George Street.