Lessons learned at the beauty shop

National Hair Stylist Appreciation Day is April 30. In honor of the occasion, see Sheletta Brundidge’s contribution below, and look for more “hair stories” in coming days on the MSR.

There is nothing I love more than being in a Black beauty shop with my sisters.  The fresh smell of perm and conditioner coupled with honest conversation and laughter is just what the doctor ordered most days.

When I first moved to Minnesota in 2004, before I even found a church, I found a sister to do my hair. Someone on the street who was well-coiffed referred me to Marsha Carter at VIP Salon & Spa in Minneapolis. That was the best thing that happened to me in my life outside of meeting and marrying my husband.

Like a lot of the women reading this article, we grew up in a salon. As a child, I would sit in the corner and listen to my momma and her sisters chat about men, recipes, and Victor Newman. Even though I wanted to jump in, I didn’t. I knew not to say anything ‘cause kids knew not to butt in grown folks conversations.

You see, little did I know, Marsha wasn’t just a stylist, she didn’t just nourish my hair, she nourished my soul as well. And in the process made me a better woman.

My first appointment, I came in loud and crazy, cracking jokes with the owner Tiffany and her brother Todd. Oh, baby, I made up for all them years I couldn’t say nothing as a kid in the beauty shop.

Stylist Marsha Carter Courtesy of VIP


And while the customers were laughing and the other stylists were encouraging me to keep showin’ out, Mrs. Marsha was praying for me. Oh don’t get me wrong, she was chuckling at my jokes too because after all, I’m damn funny. But she could see that my laughter was masking a lot of pain. I was trying to be a wife and didn’t know how. I was ruling over my husband and he didn’t much appreciate it. So our home wasn’t a very happy one.

I was lonesome and depressed because these damn Minnesota winters don’t ever end, and I missed my way of life (and warmer weather) in Texas. I had just gotten to town with no family or friends to lean on. And I was trying to raise a newborn baby without motherhood expertise.

By the time I finished performing for all the folks in the lobby at VIP, I was exhausted. Too tired to put my guard up, and that’s when Ms. Marsha sprang into action. She whispered so nobody could hear, “Learn how to keep peace in your house.”

“Who you been talking to?” I snapped back. “My husband call you before I got here?”

“No,” she chuckled, “You’re funny. I just know in my spirit your house is not in order and it starts with you. You set the tone. Make sure your house is a house of love and peace. So when your husband comes home from work, he is happy to be there.”

I nodded in agreement and tried to hold back tears. She had figured me out.

I took Marsha’s words to heart and heeded her advice. My husband saw a change in me immediately and thought it was too suspicious. That Negro just knew I was trying to poison him and wouldn’t eat my cooking for at least a week!

Due to Marsha’s instructions, my house got happy. The joy I was spreading in the salon through laughter I began to incorporate into my home. I learned to love my husband the way he wanted to be loved. I stopped nagging him all the damn time. I turned my house into a peaceful place for my spouse and my infant child. It became a stress-free zone.

It’s been 11 years since she gave me those words of wisdom sitting in her chair at the VIP Salon & Spa. Marsha didn’t just straighten my hair — she helped straighten out my life. I learned that day to shut up and listen when a wise woman talks to me, so I can take notes and heed her advice.

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