Snip snip, snip snip. Hair falls gently onto the wooden floor. It is silent; she is concentrating on the artwork in front of her. She walks around the client’s chair, studying the hair from every angle. “This color is just beautiful. See what I did here,” showing her client, “instead of using a lighter color for the highlights I took a darker color and weaved it through the hair” she says while casually tousling the hair with her hands.
Laurie St. Jacques is not just a hair stylist, she is an artist. Some may think a haircut is just that, a haircut but to St. Jacques each one of her clients is a piece of art. Each cut a sculpture, each color a painting.
She is petite with gentle features, soft eyes and faire skin. Her blonde hair falls upon her shoulders. Her black apron has a small pink breast cancer ribbon on the top left hand side. Her hands seem soft for someone whose hobbies include taking care of her horses, riding, hiking and camping.
Her last client for the day has left. Both St. Jacques and her client can’t remember how long she has been doing her hair, they both agree longer than 5 years. She moves from one thing to another. She sweeps up the fallen hair then goes back to the washroom to rinse bowls she had mixed color in earlier.
The white almost vintage looking house is warm with colors and dark wooden furniture. The glass door has a vintage glass doorknob. The wooden floors creak in some spots. Beautiful orange and yellow lilies fill vases. The mirrors are framed in dark gold with unique pieces of artwork on the shelves and walls. As the owner of the salon St. Jacques rents spaces to a few other beauticians, “Everyone comes and goes as they please. They have their clients and they pay me for the space they use.” One of the beautician’s handcrafted jewelry and crafts are for sale around the salon.
St. Jacques grew up with four brothers and her parents in Salem, Ore. As a young girl she dreamt of being a veterinarian. That seems fitting since she now has 12 cats, four horses, and a dog. A photograph of her riding one of her horses is sitting on the chair next to her station. A client had it printed, matted and framed for her as a gift. She talks about one of her cats Oscar, who was recently diagnosed with diabetes, he is 21-years-old.
As she got older she decided that she’d go to nursing school but a friend convinced her to attend beauty school with her instead. “It’s kind of funny because at first I was like ‘what the hell am I doing’ but after a while I realized it was just another form of art.” She had always been an artist and beauty school led her to a new medium. Her friend didn’t graduate from beauty school.
A relationship relocated her to Eugene when she was 23- years-old. Even though the relationship eventually ended she stayed in Eugene and built a solid clientele while perfecting her craft at The London Salon.
St. Jacques decided to open her own salon about 15 years ago with encouragement from her husband Tony, who she met at a local gym.
“I’ve been here for about 15 years now, it was Hair by Laurie until this past year when I put up the new sign in front.” The sign reads Salon St. Jacques the name she took when she married her husband.
Joy Stephanos enters the salon. She has no clients but seems to have forgotten something earlier or is just stopping by to pick something up. Joy has worked at Salon St. Jacques since March of 2011. St. Jacques and Stephanos exchange small talk back and forth. They talk about what a moneymaker it would be to combine psychology and hair styling into one. “Two in one” they both say then talk about how interesting it would be to get a psychology degree. St. Jacques adds, “I would love to write a book, memoirs of a hair dresser.”
Joy later describes St. Jacques as almost obsessively hard working and a great businessperson. “She is so energetic and just a really kind person” says Joy.
St. Jacques’ days are planned out in a date book the size of a standard school notebook. It is worn, the pages are tattered and they no longer lay flat on top of each other. Appointments and clientele information scribbled throughout the pages. She feels her information is safe here. She is weary about trusting a computer to hold all her important information, “What happens if it breaks?” she asks.
St. Jacques is not just a hairdresser. She is an artist. Maybe one day she will write the memoirs of a hairdresser and who knows maybe someday she will be a psychologist and hairdresser at the same time.
It’s not just a hair cut it is a relationship crafted by her hands.
Her favorite part of her art, “When someone with bad hair comes to me and I can make it beautiful.”