As demand grows in the beauty industry for more inclusive businesses, the first step to creating a welcoming environment for all clients is to make key changes.
“Gender-free pricing and consultations are a must for our industry to usher in a new era of inclusivity within the hair world,” says salon owner Jamie DiGrazia, founder of Hair Has No Gender, which provides resources and education for salon and barber businesses wanting to adapt.
How owners craft their messaging, pricing, and staff training is vital to creating a business where all clients feel heard, safe, seen, and celebrated, says DiGrazia, a Sam Villa Ambassador, award-winning stylist, Redken artist, and owner of the Logan Parlor salon.
DiGrazia offers these tips for business owners to provide a more inclusive experience:
1. Ask For Pronouns: Simply ask the salon team and clients to provide their pronouns. The main places to do this are:
- Digitally — on the website, in the booking system, on social media and email signature lines; and
- In person — in the salon, over the phone, and by offering/ wearing name tags and pronoun pins.
2. Gender-Free Pricing: Basing a service menu on practical factors such as time, cost of goods, techniques, and/ or hair length—rather than gender—is more efficient for booking, productivity, profitability, and growing a client base.
3. Gender-Affirming Consultations: There is a time for gender-neutral consultations—focusing on just the service, gender aside—and a time for gender-affirming consultations, where the client can articulate how they want to express their gender through their hair.
Which consultation to offer will vary from person to person, and relies on intentional communications that includes the following structure:
- Honor and Offer Pronouns
- Practice Active and Deep Listening — This requires a stylist to absorb and understand what someone is saying, respond/ reflect on what's said, and retain the information for later reference. DiGrazia recommends sitting eye level (not talking through the mirror) so a client feels more comfortable opening up about what they want for themselves through their hair.
- Request Consent — Ask questions such as, “Can I ask you a few questions so I can offer you some suggestions?” and “May I touch your hair now?”
- Use Gender-Neutral/ Inclusive Language — Make it a habit while talking about the shape and giving compliments.
- Determine Suitability — Focus on the 3 elements of shape: perimeter, silhouette, and texture. Ask open-ended questions about each for clarity and to determine options. DiGrazia recommends artful questioning to connect and collaborate, such as:
“How do you want to feel; what vibe are we going for?”
“What do you want to enhance?”
“Is there anything you want to see less of?”
“Do you have any inspiration photos or references of styles you can share?”
- Give Expert Advice — Not only on the creation of the style, but in teaching how to use products and treatments, so the client feels confident in maintaining and recreating the style at home.
“Artists take requests to help serve someone's gender expression through hair, however they envision it. What an honor!” DiGrazia says.
For advocacy beyond the salon, DiGrazia has these recommendations:
- Contact state legislators as a business owner to protest gender-discrimination bills or laws.
- Research and vote in all elections, local and federal.
- Donate/ fundraise for human-rights organizations.
- List your business on the Hair Has No Gender Service Finder.
- Sign the petition to include textured hair in state board cosmetology testing standards (This information is given to state leaders to demonstrate support for this change, so it's important that everybody sign it.)
Creating inclusive imagery is also important. The androgynous cut on the model shown was achieved with a Sam Villa Signature Series Razor (straight and texture blades).
- Straight graduation of the sides, top, crown and back
- Scooping graduation in the nape
- Trimmer over comb on the side burn area — carve in a hard bold line to disconnect.
Hair: Jamie DiGrazia
Photographer: Chris Hershman
Model: Tricia Serpe