Like many hairdressers just starting out, Andrea Saccone-Snyder thought her career was about giving everything to her clients. A third-generation stylist, Saccone-Snyder opened Flow Beauty in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and spent years wondering why she wasn’t feeling exactly right. It turns out that the obvious answer was the accurate one—burnout.
“It was my inner life—reading self-help books and spending time with my friends—that made me realize what I was doing and who I am,” she says. “I had to create balance with self-care. There’s so much risk of burnout because of who we are naturally behind the chair.”
In her 40s, Saccone-Snyder discovered something else about herself: despite all of that giving, despite running a successful salon and gaining a reputation as a sought-after stylist, she was an introvert. Once she understood that, things started to fit together.
“I was confident about the hair design, but I wasn’t as good with talking to the clients,” she reflects. “I began to see the heart and soul of why people go to the salon—it’s about connections. I always was a very spiritual person with a large inner life, but I never saw a way for my inner life and outer life to intersect. I felt alone. I knew I needed to find my own thing, and what I wanted most was to write a book.”
Twenty years passed between her first thought about writing a book and the publication of The Mindful Beauty Maker’s Little Book of Wisdom: a chair side inspirational guide for salon & spa pros and their clients. During that time, little by little Saccone-Snyder began feeling drops of inspiration.
“When I saw that MODERN SALON came out with Healthy Hairdresser, it really resonated with me,” she reports. “I feel now that my paths are starting to merge with other paths. I’m ready to come out from behind the chair. I have something to say and share, because I’ve lived it. I want to get this tribe of people together in the industry who are into self-care, who are artists and helpers but are doing it from the inside out. We’re all getting ourselves healthy and letting that glow spread. When I’m the best I can be, I can help my clients be the best they can be and help other stylists be the best they can be.”
A trained coach, Saccone-Snyder says the first step is to determine whether you are a stylist or a beauty maker.
“I am a beauty maker,” she concludes. “The beauty maker wants to cultivate whole beauty and use coaching techniques to help clients grow.” Structured as a type of workbook, the book pairs famous people’s inspirational quotes on each left-hand page with Saccone-Snyder’s related thoughts on the right-hand page, all followed by an affirmation statement, questions and a blank spot to journal. The book’s 25 chapters range from “The Power of Touch” and “My Thoughts Are Powerful” to “Creativity” and “Time Management.” Now also collaborating with longtime industry educator Bobbi Foster-Kelly to develop programs, workshops and retreats, Saccone-Snyder continues to explore ways that her own journey can help others to define and achieve their professional goals.
“I was restless for a long time, because this was growing inside of me,” she explains. “I always pictured myself in front of other people, inspiring and teaching, but I was afraid of it. Yet I knew that I had to start teaching—not hair techniques, but this other side that called me. For me, coaching is the perfect fusion of art and psychology.”
Saccone-Snyder identifies hairdressers’ challenges as falling into two categories:
- Physical health, including weight/body image and smoking: “Hairdressers are active, but we eat the wrong things at the wrong times. In some circles of creative people, smoking can still be considered artsy and sexy. I used to be a social smoker with a glass of wine.”
- Self-worth: “I hope I’m wrong on this, and maybe I’m projecting my own stuff, but I think many hairdressers are insecure about their intelligence. When I went to cosmetology school, I thought I was ‘settling’ because I didn’t get the psychology degree I had originally planned to get. It’s taken me a long time to realize that I’m smart, just not in the same way as a lot of people. Part of me wrote the book just to prove I could write a book! I like to quote author John Steinbeck:
‘It is my considered opinion that the hairdresser is the most influential person in any community. When the public goes to a hairdresser, something happens to them. They feel safe, they relax. The hairdresser knows what their skin is like under the makeup; they know their age; they don’t have to keep up any kind of pretense. People tell a hairdresser things they wouldn’t dare confess to a priest, and they are open about matters they try to conceal from a doctor. When people place their secret lives in the hairdresser’s hands, the hairdresser gains an authority few other people attain. I have heard hairdressers quoted with complete conviction on art, literature, politics, economics, child care and morals. I tell you that a clever, thoughtful, ambitious hairdresser wields a power beyond the comprehension of most people.’
I want all hairdressers to claim that for themselves.”