Inspiration’s Necessity: Tales From The Client’s Perspective

Folks, this ditty right here is a little tale about some hair dye gone wrong.

Way back in June, I wanted to treat myself to some fanciful fabulous mermaidlicious hair for my birthday, and contacted the stylist I’d been seeing for a year to handle it.

Ya think it’s frikken clear that I really REALLY wanted purple!? I did pick the pink in the store, and am planning on doing
pink next (honestly, an entire color journey is about to ensue) but copper and yellow ain’t part of this picture.

Like normal, I sent over a huge folder of inspiration.  I should have known it wasn’t going to go well when the guy planning on handling the job sent me back an image totally different from the images I sent,  but seeing as he’s handled my hair dye for a year, I figured I was safe enough to talk through what I wanted.


Not only did I not end up with anything close to what I came in there for, when it was all over he looked me straight in the face and said “Beautiful! A real GROWN UP take on playful color”. He judged me while simultaneously not giving me what I wanted.


My mental response didn’t take long: “Dude I’m 31 years old and I’ve been running my own design strategy firm/situation for the last 8 years. I’m a grown up whether I have copper hair or blue hair or no hair at all. The grown up is in the doing, not the adorning”

But I kept this to myself. That old adage of not having anything nice to say, I guess.

It was a total bummer. Not only did people become confused with why my hair wasn’t what they were expecting, I had people pick through my hair to FIND the pink.  I thought up a plan for next time involving my NuPastels to ‘block in’ where I wanted the color to go in, but then thinking about spending another 10 hours and $250 to fix what I wanted to begin with didn’t make sense.

I can only compare the experience to my own work, but I have yet to work with a client who needed to hand hold me through which fonts they wanted me to use.  I also kept coming back to a tone I deliver when I’m mentoring or consulting: “Why continue to spend your time and money,  going beyond what it takes to normally explain something to someone who held you back thanks to their own limitations?” When I got THERE, I knew there’d be no turning back.

I started scoping out salons, getting referrals from some of the most awesome hair I’d seen out and about across Los Angeles, but nothing was panning out. Until my friend told me about a stylist who will come to your house and cut your hair! Amazing.

She came over, I showed her pictures of styles & the colors I was considering– both folders I had gone over with the other stylist.

She took about the same time– I knew it would and I was super fine with it. Even when it cost me an extra $100. You know why? Because it was exactly what I wanted from her. Exactly. The cut or color will never be a perfect replication from the images, but it’s because I know my hair quality and texture, and my skin tone and face shape are entirely my own. It’s that whole being a “grown up” thing again.  You’ll always have tweaks and additions you never could have foreseen, but what I love about finding creative people you can entrust is that they will make it work for you.


Side note: this smile ALONE is why it is always worth it to trust your gut and get what you want. I mean, come on. If it takes purple hair to make me happy, then guess what? Purple hair it is! 

If you’re in a creative profession, and you are in charge of helping people represent themselves in a way they see fit, you should at the very least listen to them. You have the tools to facilitate, but they know themselves and how they’d prefer to be known and represented, ideally without judgement. This is true if we’re talking about hair color, clothing, an automobile purchase, or a logo.

This is why I relish the idea of being creative, and shirk at the idea of being an artist. I realize the connotations are entirely my own, but I guess for me, it’s all in the experience. With art, the other person’s experience is almost invalidated. It’s not as important as the artists intention or desired experience. Working with number of businesses we’ve worked with in helping to express themselves fully, whether it be via brand, website, commercial, or even copywriting tone has made me more of a client-advocate than a divalicious artist (no matter how many silver platters of diamonds and white orchids the latter may get), and now when the role is reversed I know how a client “should” be treated. I am one, I work with them. How could I not incorporate their point of view –however idealized or hypothetical it might be? Ugh again with the grown up ness. Even with awesomely purple hair, my ability to empathize with other people and their situations is not adversely effected. In fact, I’d argue it’s heightened.

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