Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Learning from Yolanda-- the lady that taught me a lot about hair and also about life

Hello Beautiful People,

I have been wanting to take some time to talk about hair care.  Now I am not a licensed professional hairstylist; in fact, estheticians are licensed only to remove hair in addition to skin treatments...BUT, I know a thing or two about what healthy hair should look and feel like.  Before I do so, I would like to tell you a story about how my knowledge of hair care went from fair to fabulous!  And about a lady who had a lot to do with it.

For about a year, I worked at a salon called Le Salon De Beaute in Pikesville, Maryland. I was fresh out of Von Lee School of Esthetics, a top-notch school for facialists, and I had gotten word that a woman I knew from high school was looking to expand her new hair salon to include skin care.  That salon owner, after giving me one of the toughest interviews I've had, became my boss.  And she was a bonafide hair diva.  Yolanda Carr was a young women who despite her youth ran her business the way she ran her life, very regimented and with precision. I had known her and her sister growing up at Franklin Middle and Franklin High School, but I was a quiet, shy and conservative girl, while I always remembered Yolanda as being fun-loving, rebellious, and outgoing.  So naturally we never crossed paths much as kids.  Now thrust into the world of professional esthetics in a new salon that never before offered skin care services, I knew I had a lot of knowledge and raw talent.  But I sometimes doubted how good I really was; however, Yolanda never did.  We wouldn't always agree on how things should be done, but she respected my knowledge and enthusiastically encouraged her hair clients to see me for skin care treatments.  And I respected the way she ran her business and how she could cut, color, and style any texture of hair like magic, no matter the race or ethnicity of the client.

Not having established a "book" of clients on my own yet, I spent many hours around the salon watching Yolanda interact with her clients.  She always greeted them with a lovely smile and engaged them in many interesting conversations.  I watched as she tousled her client's wet hair during the cutting process, to see how the style would "hang".  I watched her color and highlight hair, doing full highlights as quickly as she did a "zipper"(highlighting only the top of the crown and sectioning it to have the effect of a zipper).  I observed her as she wielded her blow dryer, creating fluffy blowouts that I have learned to copy, but not nearly as well.   I also watched her mentor others, including the talented young stylist Jenah who grew by leaps and bounds as a stylist within the time I was there.  I learned about various hair products, techniques, and even how to highlight my own hair by copying what she and Jenah did. Yolanda used to say that the brand of shampoo wasn't nearly as important as the conditioner and other styling products, because "they are all suds in a bottle".  Above all I learned that you have to work hard to become an expert if you want people to listen and to trust you.  Her diligence paid off indeed, as she and the salon were soon featured in Baltimore Magazine as one of the top salons in the area,

I left the salon in the early summer of 2008 to pursue a job with a medi-spa.  I was impatient, not wanting to wait to build up my book as I was working on commission.  I was lured away by the better-than-decent hourly wage and the chance to work in a clinical setting alongside medical professionals.  I had made many friends at Le Salon De Beaute, and hated leaving them.  But the hardest thing I had to do was personally resign to my boss.  I waited around in my car after my shift was over until the shop closed, the last client walked out the door followed by the staff.  With a knot in my throat, I hurried across the lot and up the steps to the door.  Yolanda was straightening up after a long day.  I gave her my two weeks notice and explained my reasons for wishing to move on.   I didn't think she would be all that concerned, as hair was the main business there and other estheticians would come.  She was graceful, but she did say " I believed in you, and I wish I had known you needed more money, because I would have worked with you".  It was then I realized I shouldn't have doubted my worth, because Yolanda could see a diamond in the rough better than anyone could.

I told her that I respected her and applauded her success in such a short period of time as a salon owner.  After my two weeks were over, I left Le Salon De Beaute behind and pursued my medi-spa job.  Although I stayed there much longer and made much more money, I learned that the "clinical setting" I'd hoped for was more of a money-grabbing operation where dishonesty and pressure sales was encouraged and my knowledge, talent, and compassion for clients took a back seat to the act of removing thousands of dollars from people's pocketbooks by sweet looking but deceptive twenty-somethings promising results that often did not come. Yes, the grass always looks greener, but many times it is not.

One night in March last year, a friend from high school called to tell me if I'd heard the news.  There had been a freak accident behind the salon after work.  Yolanda Carr was gone.  Just like that, she had left behind a husband, two boys, loving family, and a multitude of friends and clients.  The show still goes on, as her family and friends keep Le Salon open.  But I will not forget Yolanda nor the lessons I learned by observing how she handled hair, and juggled her business, family, and her life.

The Bronzediva


  1. Thank you for writting such a beautiful Blog. I hope everyone takes a moment to read this. Sending you light and love~ Jenah

  2. This is so heart warming and I remember how caring, sweet and wonderful Yolanda was to me and everyone that walked into her shop. What a beautiful tribute you wrote about Yolanda and Jenah. Yolanda is missed by everyone everyday.May she rest in peace and know how many people love and miss her.

  3. How sad that this talented woman lost her life. I didn't know her but this was a lovely tribute.