Salon friendships are born when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” Few things have such impact on the enjoyment of working in the salon as the friendships we create within the industry. Those special co-workers who ride the ups and downs of career and life with us are priceless. No matter what might be going down, you never feel alone. The quick breakroom chats in between clients are lifesavers and more effective than a session with a shrink. There are moments when you want to run away from your salon mates--but you never really mean it. You don’t really want for them to vanish forever because when life goes south,—they are there, they are first line of defense, they are family.
My long-time friend, Bill Doran, 77, passed away on Valentine’s Day in Scottsdale, Arizona with his loving wife, Wimberley Doran, at his side. Bill’s friendship was not just a storybook shared experience, it gave me with a sense of belonging when I first arrived in Chicago in1974 for an interview with Pivot Point International. Bill had a way of allowing acceptance and a feeling you belong to flourish. We met on the first day I arrived, he invited me for a drink and that moment lasted forty-five years without a glitch of disagreement. I learned from Bill that the true meaning of friendship is acceptance.
Bill came from hairdressing royalty, the son of Grace Doran and her husband, Buddy Francis, who joined Leo Passage in Chicago in the late 1960s. This would prove to be one of the most dynamic and successful partnerships in the history of the cosmetology school industry. Bill followed shortly and worked as an educator for PPI worldwide. A talented hairdresser and educator, he toured all fifty states plus Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and multiple European cities. He owned a successful salon in Nashville, TN and later moved to Arizona where for many years he served a large clientele at Rumors Salon in Scottsdale.
Never a fan of fanfare or the limelight, Bill would work backstage, scrub heads, brush out hair for many of my stage presentations. I recall a standing ovation during our joint visit to Hawaii when Bill unveiled an amazing hairstyle on stage. Our final hairdressing adventure was a memorable trip to Hermosillo, Mexico where we performed, along with Lulu Benavidez, from Lulu’s The Salon of Galveston, TX, for the local hairdresser’s association for no compensation. Bill was satisfied with the street tacos he scored around the corner. That was the essence of my friend Bill—sincerity, simplicity and good food. His creative life and simplicity, in an industry where fame is the sought-after element, is a tribute to true humility and awareness of the needs of others.
Tomorrow, when you walk into your salon, offer your coworkers the best of you. Call that great salon friend you made who you haven’t connected with recently. Get over and forgive the one that crossed you, it’s not worth it.
And, my friend Bill? He’s waiting at a table in heaven with two shots of tequila and smiling.
Carlos Valenzuela is a hairdresser, educator, ex-salon & school owner. His focus is guiding salon professionals to a more fulfilling career & lifestyle. @carvale19