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Rising Stars: Meet Barbara Paris

Today we’d like to introduce you to Barbara Paris.

Hi Barbara, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
When I was 20 years old, I was cutting hair and found a job in Boulder on the “Hill”. I worked there for 3 months and then opened my salon “Barbara The Barber”. Since I have renamed my salon Hair by Barbara Salon. It was a very exciting time but owning a business at the age of 21 was a rare thing at the time and probably still is now. From the salon I started in as the Boulder mall was created I was one of the first businesses to open just off of Pearl street. This dates back to the late ’70s.

Shortly after opening the salon I took a trip to the NYC Hairshow and met Paul Mitchell. He introduced me to many editors and hairdressers that like him had come over from England and been direct proteges of Vidal Sassoon. ( Most famous hairstylist) I was obsessed with learning as much as possible about hairdressing from the top stylists at the time. In New York, I saw Sir Robert Clegg, Paul Mitchell, Yoshi, and John Dellaria visit salons and went to many workshops that were held in conjunction with the New York Hair Show.

This enthusiasm for learning went on for a decade. I developed my system of cutting and had photographs of my work in many trade magazines throughout the U.S., France, Germany, and Japan. I went on to develop a product line that continued until the start of Covid. The portfolio that resulted from all the work was my calling card to many editors of many magazines. One most memorable ones were Coiffure Magazine in Paris.

As I visited with the editor and she asked what she could do for me. I asked if there were any opportunities at the time in Paris. She suggested I meet a gentleman at the Alexandre Salon who was impressed with my portfolio and suggested I join a team to do the “Spring Paris Fashion Show”. That included a day of visiting a salon to get my eyes around the styles that were currently presented in Paris. I did join a team for the Balenciaga and Nina Ricci that season.

Returned to Paris and then again in the autumn for the “Autumn Paris Fashion Show”. Both delightful experiences and the fulfillment of the dream I had of doing them. I returned to my salon work at home. Submitted more work to trade magazines for publishing and teaching seminars throughout the U.S. and enjoyed every minute of it. That was a whirlwind of work. Photo shoots that included my hair and makeup and photos. It was fun creating at the time. At the time I was the leading coloring in Colorado’s a result of being invited to Texas by John Paul Mitchell to take a Framesi training in Italian color.

As a result of that, I taught color workshops in Boulder, Vail, and Aspen. I was one of the original colorists and innovators. Since I have focused on cutting and salon work. the toxicity of color work made me take a step back and realize the ramification of the toxicity to the environment and stylists. So when Wella asked me to be one of their stylists I felt myself going in a different direction. More health consciousness and focusing on my first love cutting hair.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It was as if it were meant to be. One door opened after the other. Opportunities presented themselves in such a way that It seemed that my path was divinely directed. The earliest struggle was my age. It was hard to be taken seriously at such a young age. However, I was always so clear about doing hair since I was a small girl. I was extremely responsive and had a very good work ethic.

When I first came to Boulder from Denver, there were no jobs. That is what lead to me opening my hair salon at the age of 21. There was a very established Haberdashery “Kinsley and Company”. that I first opened my salon. I would shine shoes at night at the local dance club and because I was good at that it gave people confidence that I could cut hair and they would visit the salon. I had oodles of energy and that was a blessing. It was from the location on the “Hill “in Boulder that I then moved to the newly built “Boulder Mall”.

One of the first salons there and a one-chair salon. I then had a 4 chair salon on the East end of the Boulder Mall and that was more challenging as I found not many stylists were as impeccable in their work ethic or as self-motivated as I was. ” My father told me one day as I expressed my disappointment in that that “if all people were like you there wouldn’t be any room at the top”. His comment changed my perspective until this day.

After that lease ended three years later, I transitioned to the “West End” of the “Boulder Mall”. I had a three-chair salon there until I moved to the first floor into a different location leading me back to my one-chair, intimate salon setting. I was there for many years until the Boulder Mall went thru a transition that was impossible to stay. It was then I moved my salon to where it is now in my home. It is one chair on the main level of my home. Professional, excellent lighting and beautiful window views, ergonomic shampoo bowl, and fresh air.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I approach each client individually. I listen intently and proceed with their interests in mind. I have created my system which consists of 5 sections of the head and a three-dimensional of the finished product. I spend as much time cutting in the foundation of the style as I do finishing the style. It is the little snips that the final cut has a complete and finished look.

I create hair they can go home with and maintain easily and effortlessly. I have clients whose haircuts have grown out for 7 months and the cut evolved as it grew. Others who like regular upkeep can be assured that the style evolves into a complimentary style over time. No radical steps unless one is set on a radical change. I still thoroughly enjoy my work.

I enjoy the interaction with the client and work my way to the completed work with their input all along the way if they wish to be involved or work from the initial information they have shared. I work at a relaxed pace. Giving personal attention to each client, I do not overbook or have people waiting in the wings for the next visit. I leave time between client visits to clean and clear the air for the next client. I have always enjoyed a relaxed pace of working.

After all, rushing all day amounts to stress and an evening of recovery rather than an evening after a peaceful day of creative work. I treat each client like I like to be treated and valued when I go to other professionals. Life is for enjoying and work is something I make the most of. I am very fortunate to love what I do and to have a great amount of skill to achieve a high quality of work.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
I am a jazz recording artist as my hobby time. I have recorded many fine CDs and sometimes perform live. When my clients come they are pleasantly surprised at my ability to sing and perform in the same relaxed and friendly manner in which they meet me in the salon.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Sue Daniels and Jerry Downs

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