I get my hair cut once each year – whether I need it or not. I’m just that stylish and if I’m being extravagant, then so be it: I’m going to get that annual hair cut. Moving into the city in November 2009, I’d gotten my annual trim for that year, so the first rotation didn’t come around until July 2010. Feeling freshly urban and determined to support local businesses, I got my hair cut at Union Avenue Barber Shop. It didn’t go so well. In fact, it went so poorly, that in the summer of 2011, I got my hair cut at my old shop out in west Knoxville. I know, I know.
In the meantime, we had a virtual invasion of hair institutes in downtown. I use the word “virtual” in the sense of “not in the real world.” We had rumors every other week of a new hair college coming into the city. We already have several great salons stretching from Urban Salon on Walnut, through Market Square with Studio Visage and Barnes and Barnes, on to the old city with Lox Salon and all the way back to the other end of Gay Street with Alpha Omega Hair Design. The thought of adding approximately two hundred institutes to the mix seemed like madness. And it was.
In the end, only Aveda Institute followed through and open its doors. It took over the former S and W Cafe and I’ll admit that not only was I underwhelmed to have a hair institute on Gay Street, it just seemed historically incorrect for anything other than a restaurant to be in that building. I missed having Donald Brown play every Saturday night and I just got cranky over the whole thing.
Then came summer 2012 and my annual haircut. What to do? I could not submit to the butchery that was my first experience, nor could I turn my back on downtown and get my hair cut elsewhere in the city. I’m a penny pincher when it comes to haircuts, which is understandable given how often I need a trim. So, I went to Aveda.
And I’m glad I did. The ladies at the front desk greeted me warmly and acted as if I didn’t seem nervous trying the new place, at all. I appreciated that. The front room seemed strange without Donald on piano and a nice glass of wine in my hand, but I did learn a few things about their products – and they have a very large line of beauty products.
Signs in every direction explained their commitment to the environment (95% of products naturally derived, first beauty company manufacturing with 100% wind power), to your health (90% of products are certified organic) and to the world’s indigenous people (“thank you” note from the Yawanawa tribe). It was almost overwhelming for a guy who just needed his annual haircut.
I stepped up stairs where Jennifer took care of my thinning mane as if it deserved nothing but the best of treatments. Right off the bat I was in over my head:
Jennifer: Please choose your scent.”
Me: (What is she talking about?)
Jennifer: Here is the mint. Now, the berry.
Me: I’ll take the mint (though I don’t have a clue what you are about to do with it).
She dropped a bit onto my scalp and began a bit of a massage using the oils. It was a little strange, but a little nice. Yes, awkward, but vaguely comforting. I think I liked it. She then gave me a very nice cut with minimal, but pleasant chat along the way. In a matter of minutes the annual event had ended.
I paid a mere $16 and, as is required, did not give a tip. I’m not sure what the thinking is about the tip, but that’s the house rule. I liked it so much I find myself almost wishing I needed a winter cut, but that’s just crazy talk. I’m totally good until the summer and by that time Jennifer will be gone and some other young lady will massage my scalp. I’m sure it will all be good.
If you haven’t given them a try, I’d encourage you to do so. They also offer massages, hair coloring and a range of services as well as products. I’ve talked to quite a few women who’ve used them I’ve heard nothing but positive reactions. Have any of you tried them out? Tell us about it in a comment. And look for me there next July or so.