A New ’Do: Writer takes on winter blues with haircut at new downtown salon

Samantha Kobs, photos by Andrea Paulseth

THEY’RE NOT JUST TEASING. Cassy Jablonsky, right, is one of the owners of Hair Reborn, a new downtown Eau Claire salon, 405 S. Farwell St.
THEY’RE NOT JUST TEASING. Cassy Jablonsky, right, is one of the owners of Hair Reborn, a new downtown Eau Claire salon, 405 S. Farwell St.

Like many local folks, I found myself in a particular funk this past winter. I was buried in lesson plans, I rarely saw the sun, and my boyfriend wouldn’t keep the kitchen counters clean*. The entire city was a maze of suffocating snow tunnels. More than once I had made plans with friends only to get my car suction-cupped against the snow bank of my own driveway. Crawling out of the passenger door with my head hung low, I would ask myself the same question many of us ask this time of year: Why does anyone choose to live here?

Now they weren’t just stylists, they were owners and business partners ready to take on any haircut, foil, style, wax, spray tan, or whatever else might come their way.

At the peak of my misery, the weather finally allowed for a breakfast date with a friend. It was there at that brunch table that I realized what would lift my spirits: I had to change my hairstyle, my fail proof, go-to coping strategy. But where? When? How? As any Midwesterner would, I sought help from the only person I knew I could trust: my server. She suggested a place that had just opened its doors on the first of March.

“It’s called Hair Reborn. Here, I’ll write it down for you,” she smiled as she unknowingly saved me from my sad and pathetic crisis. A metaphoric rebirth was exactly what I needed. I left in a hurry, desperate to make an appointment.
Two days later, I walked through the doors of a brand new salon on South Farwell Street. My stylist, Cassy, introduced herself, offered me a beverage, and asked what I wanted done. The more I described the dramatic, life-altering change I so badly needed**, the more I realized that I was literally just describing the exact hair that she had. I think she noticed, too, but she didn’t seem alarmed. At any rate, it had to be done. I didn’t have time for originality. “I just need to look ... different, if that makes sense,” I tried to explain. She didn’t need an explanation. This was her profession, and she knew it all too well.

As I sat in the chair looking like an aluminum foil Medusa, I took in everything around me. All four owners – Cassy, Sarah, Laura, and Blake – were still figuring out the ropes of their new business that had only been open a couple of days. Where to put things, how to best organize, whose music to play. My eavesdropping and inquiries taught me that they, too, had needed a change from their previous routines. That’s why they’d opened up shop and started a new business together. With the help of their families and friends, they’d remodeled with impressive speed. Now they weren’t just stylists, they were owners and business partners ready to take on any haircut, foil, style, wax, spray tan, or whatever else might come their way.

Within an hour or so, my hair once again matched the description on my driver’s license: sexy. I’m back, I thought. So vogue. So… different. The weight of a thousand split ends had been lifted. Life seemed just a little more manageable, and I had a stranger at a salon to thank for that. But it wasn’t just my hair that was giving rise to my newfound positivity. It was the fun and genuine conversation with this stranger, the camaraderie between workers, and the bustling of a new business in the making.

As I drove home through the slush and ice, I wondered if these stylists understand the burden that they lift sometimes. I don’t know if they recognize that some people – like myself – don’t get their hair done just because it’s fun or it looks good. We get our hair done because it distracts us from whatever it is that we need to be distracted from. It makes us feel like we have control of something, even if only temporarily. For some of us, the simple change of a haircut or style makes all the difference.

I may not have gotten much work done that day, and the weather certainly didn’t feel any closer to spring. But I left that salon with impossible swagger, a breath of fresh air, a local business to support, and – most importantly – a reminder of why it is that I’ve chosen to stay.

*Still an issue.
**Not actually necessary for survival.

Hair Reborn, 405 S. Farwell St. No. 2, is open Mondays and Tuesdays 8am-6pm, Wednesdays 8am-5pm, Thursdays 8am-7pm, and Fridays 8am-6pm. They offer services ranging from regular haircuts to perms, special occasion updos, and natural hair services. Full color services are available, along with waxing and makeup. More information is available online at vagaro.com/hairreborn or by calling (715) 563-3040.

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