Thursday, June 16, 2011

With absolute fondness...

I have been thinking a lot about the hair industry recently, and especially how I see it in my little corner of Georgia.

When we moved from Charleston, SC, it didn't occur to me to land a job before I arrived here, as in Charleston there was an upscale salon on every corner desperate for talent and a warm smile.  I was charging $55 per haircut, $100 for a half-head highlight.  Bridal hair was a focus in that city, and it was nothing to ask $115 for a bridal updo, and then require a trial run at $70.  I was paid $11 an hour when I started, just to sit and wait for clientele!  Little did I know what a blessing that was. 

My first interview here (set up by my real estate agent) was with a salon owner who had 17 years of experience under her belt.  We met at Starbucks, and she brought her (what appeared to be) 8 year-old son.  We talked about my experience, and she asked me what I would charge for a haircut. 

"Well, I have been charging $55, but I think I am comfortable with $40."
She looked at me, bewildered. 
"I have been doing hair for 17 years, and I charge $27."

Holy-cursewords.  What have we done?

I searched for MONTHS for a salon similar to the one I had left, but the three that existed in the area at the time were not hiring.  Realistically, I can think of six.  

Augusta was littered with (what I like to call) "beauty boxes"- small, 4-chair salons donning either the name of the owner, or some little not-so-clever locution to do with hair.  

"Hair for You."  "Shear Elegance." "I Can't Beweave It!"

I found refuge in one of these boxes, and my spoiled-rotten, newly pregnant and miserable self received weekly checks in the range of $15-$60.  I sat for 35 hours a week, unpaid unless I was holding shears, and was glared at if I dared leave early.  

Is this even... legal?

In November I received a phone call from one of the "Big Six," asking me if I would like to sit down for an interview.  That night I bleached all of the blue out of my hair, spent the remainder of my available credit on a new dress, and boldly walked in to meet Joy.  She was engaging and confident.  I would make money.  I told her I was pregnant.  She didn't mind.  And with that, I cried.  

I worked there, busy as I could possibly be during the remainder of that pregnancy.  I was able to pay bills, go on vacation, and save enough for my full 6-week maternity leave.  For the most part, everyone in that very large salon got along as well as they could, and I think we really enjoyed each other.  Obviously, I am no longer at that salon, and most everyone whom I worked with aren't either.  My restlessness + the negative economy got the best of me, and regrettably I left.  Regardless of the decision I made, I view my last days as a non-mother there with absolute fondness.  

And when I think of the pleasure of those times, I remember us often crouching around a bowl-full of this...

This is "Sabrina's Black Bean and Corn Salsa," and even at 6:00 AM it makes my mouth water.  

When I was at the farmers' market this weekend, I stopped at a table full of organic produce, and this recipe came to mind.  My co-worker at the time brought this to all of us one day, and we begged for the recipe so much that she wrote it out and made copies.  

Only confident people share recipes. 

I still have my copy- crumpled, ripped, and doodled on, and it is with pleasure (and permission) that I share it with all of you.  It calls for cans of corn and beans, but in my efforts to be fancy, I blanched some corn and soaked some beans.  It was delicious, but do yourself a favor: buy the cans. 


Sabrina's Black Bean and Corn Salsa
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can yellow shoepeg corn, drained
1 large red onion, chopped
2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, chopped (seeds and veins removed for less heat)
juice of one lime
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/2 t chili powder
1/2 t garlic salt
1/2 t black pepper

Mix it all together, and enjoy.  I let mine sit overnight to let the flavors meld together.  

Thank you, Sabrina, for your sweetness (and spiciness in this case).  Thanks to all of the girls who made that time of my life so special.  And thanks to those salon-owners.  Know that my spoiled rotten-butt did not know how easy I had it!

Love to all, 
Rachel Bee

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