Ask a woman about her hairstylist, and you’re likely to unleash a glowing gush. Finding a stylist you love isn’t easy. And when you do find one, your loyalty will rival that of any dog to its pet parent. Just ask our Editor-In Chief Sandy Selby.

Sandy Selby with Courtney Soltvedt of Amazing Designs Salon near Slater.

By Sandy Selby

I DON’T HAVE A THERAPIST, but I do have Courtney. My hair stylist keeps my split ends at bay, and she listens and commiserates as I recount dramas that have unfolded since my last cut. She has hovered over me with scissors and a blow dryer during job changes, cancer treatments, and car trouble. I tell her things I don’t typically share, and I wonder, as I blabber on unfiltered, if stylists are required to take a course on counseling between sessions on spiral perms and beachy highlights.

It took me a while to find a hairstylist to call my own. I spent years bouncing from chair to chair at quickservice salons where someone would competently (usually) cut my hair in a jiffy. Conversation, if it happened at all, was superficial and forgettable. I always hoped to find the kind of relationship my mom had with Inez, the woman who did her hair for years. That was back in the day when weekly salon visits involved lots of curlers, teasing, and sculpting; there was plenty of time for stylist and client to cultivate a friendship.

When Courtney set up shop not far from where I live (which is not particularly close to anywhere, so that fact alone was something of a miracle), I hoped she would be someone I could count on for consistently good cuts. Lucky for me, convenience wasn’t the only thing Courtney had going for her. She is an absolute pro as a stylist, a gifted conversationalist, a mesmerizing storyteller, and one of the kindest people I know. A visit to her salon is good for my hair and my state of mind.

Fifty years ago, this magazine featured a story about a small-town barber whose customers valued both his services and his stories. When we decided to do an update, we were pleased to find barber shops all over the state that maintain the time-honored traditions of quality cuts and reasonable prices with amenities that include cigars, hot towels, and tall tales.

Customers at those barber shops and at Courtney’s salon know the truth: Sometimes a haircut is more than a haircut. It’s a pause in our busy lives when we can make a genuine human connection with the friend we trust with our hair … and our secrets.



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Article originally published in the June 2023 issue of Missouri Life.