by MIKE CHAIKEN
A hairstylist from Southington is sharing his tales from behind the chair in a book due out next year.
Bill Schrlau, who has been working in the hair industry for 31 years (he started when he was 17), has written, “Not Always Beautiful, Always Entertaining.”
The book offers up stories he has collected over the years in his industry. It starts when he was a young man working in a salon for the first time with clients who were his mother’s age or between his mother’s age and his age.
“I couldn’t communicate with them,” said Schrlau in an interview. “Part of it was life experience. I just didn’t have the years in.”
And from that perspective in his life, he explained, “strange things would happen.”
Although some of the stories are specific to the hair salon industry, and there is a definite education element to the book that is beneficial to future stylists, Schrlau said the biggest push to share the stories in book form came from his clients. Although stylists may recognize some of the moments described within “Not Always Beautiful, Always Entertaining,” Schrlau said his intent was to insure the moments were palatable to anyone who reads the book.
“The stories are stories,” explained Schrlau who has plans to begin coaching, consulting, and training within the hair industry. “It’s entertaining to hear this could happen in a salon to a young stylist.”
Schrlau, who describes himself as a career student, has been sharing the stories of his life as he styled his clients’ hair and as he spoke with his peers. And some of the stories, he had shared in a blog form in recent years.
But his clients, family, and friends encouraged him to finally pull those stories together and publish them in a book, said Schrlau.
One of the stories Schrlau shared was his time as a young “cutter,” someone whose job was to provide haircuts to clients. He was at the beginning of his career, and had learned—as many in his position—to cut the hair from a pattern.
During one haircut with a client of five years, something clicked as he watched the client’s hair drape and fall. During that moment, he had an epiphany about why hair acts in a certain way when it is cut and he understood the connections that took him beyond the patterns.
Schrlau said the surprised look on his face as this realization struck him was evident to his client, who panicked. Was something wrong?
Schrlau said he realized he had two paths at that point, he could tell his client his truth—that up until that moment, he didn’t really understand his job. Or he could lie and offer up a plausible excuse for the smile He chose to lie.
Schrlau said the client didn’t really believe him, but let it go.
However, later that day, Schrlau shared his epiphany with his co-workers. He expected slaps on the back and words of congratulations. He wanted everyone to know that he was learning and growing as a stylist.
Instead, he said, he was faced with blank stares. No one cared.
So much for the accolades from his coworkers.
Many years on, Schrlau said he shared that moment with a celebrity stylist at cocktails. And the stylist told him that he had the exact same epiphany.
Schrlau said he realized then that his realization many years ago wasn’t just a freak moment for one young stylist. It was something others had experienced as well.
Schrlau said this is the kind of story—where connections are suddenly realized—that many people, not just stylists, experience.
The initial plan for the book, which should be released at the end of January, is to distribute it electronically for an industry specific audience. From there, discussions are in the works to distribute it on a more commercial basis.
To learn more about Schrlau, visit his blog at https://notalwaysbeautiful.wordpress.com/or look for him on Facebook at Not Always Beautiful, always entertaining