Serendipity at the Hair Salon
It’s always anxiety provoking, getting a haircut in a new country. You want someone who speaks English but more importantly, someone who can translate your sense of style. My first haircut experience in Sweden was at a walk-in salon in Stockholm, (you can see where this is going, can’t you?) Well, let’s just say, I should have walked out (no ran!), but I didn’t because I was desperate, I was starting to look like one of the Beatles and I’d already tried calling several places and all of them were booked, 3-4 weeks out! (This was before I knew everyone in Sweden goes on vacation in July). So, you see, I had no choice. The cut wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good either and for the price 500 SEK, roughly $70 USD, it stunk.
After that I began scouting for haircutting places, analyzing the people who worked there–what they were wearing, judging whether or not their haircuts were any good. I mean how else do you know? It’s tough to predict these things. Then, as luck would have it, I drove by a salon in downtown Stockholm whose name caught my eye, Sachajuan. I’d seen the name before…it was all rushing back to me. Yes, yes, the name had been printed on a new line of styling products at Carlton Hair in California. They had just begun selling them but no one could pronounce the name Sachajuan–that should have been the first sign they were Swedish. They were expensive, made of natural ingredients, but I wasn’t all that excited at the time, seeing as how I was moving and still had a bulk bottle of Kirkland Signature to finish up—ugh! Now, seeing the name written across the glass front of a window, I figured this had to be my sign, serendipity, this was the place! I called for an appointment, 600 SEK for a haircut from a Jr. Stylist and more for the owners. I booked my appointment with Ida, hoping she wasn’t too “junior,” and awaited my fate.
The day arrived and I showed up a little early, hoping to scan some of their hair magazines…you know, find three of four decent pictures you could point to and say something stupid like, “Could you combine this?” But there were no big books filled with mostly awful hair, there was nothing at all in the waiting area but four sleek modern chairs in white tufted leather. It was all very hip and cool, including the people who worked there—all of them dressed in black. The uniformity lent itself to a certain professionalism. You could feel it in the way people moved, heads erect, walking with a slight saunter, not too fast and not too slow.
On the wall I saw all the same bottles I’d seen in America, shampoos and conditioners in brown tinted plastic–like old pharmaceuticals–with clean white labels and tidy looking fonts. Ida greeted me. She was tall and blond and lovely—one of those women who you can never picture having a bad hair day—and what’s more she was very, very sweet. I didn’t have to tell her much, she pointed out the problems with my haircut in perfect English. I relaxed, knowing I was in good hands (and that she had two years experience at the salon).
I told her my story, how I’d found the place because of the name and to my surprise she pointed to Sacha and Juan, the owners, both cutting hair. They’d been in the business for almost 3 decades. Their line of products had been an extension of their philosophy of hair and style—easy and elegant. Sachajuan, pronounced “Satch-a-quan,” to me is what it means to follow your dreams, work hard and find a way to make people happy. I left with a great haircut and an even better life lesson. It was all so hip and cool.