I met Renée twelve years ago. Almost exactly. She did my long tresses in an undo for CeCe’s wedding. She’s been making me feel beautiful ever since. Plus, she makes me laugh. That first time I sat in her chair, she told me she had a real live ghost in her apartment.
“For real,” she said, her blue eyes wide, looking at me in the mirror. Besides, she calls me a genius. How can I refuse to love Renée? She makes me beautiful and she thinks I’m smart.
Renée is funny and she’s brave and she’s good.
Just a few months ago, she left the Big Name Salon where she worked for almost 18-year career, and ventured into a smaller salon. Sure, Big Name offered security and health insurance, but her new home, Salon Coccolé, offered something more important: freedom to pursue what she wants to do and a chance to grow and learn. Her friend, mentor, and boss Donna Gentile encourages her to do that. For the first time in her career, thanks to Donna, Renée went to a Beauty Show where she met
Ted Gibson Nick Arroyo of “What not to Wear” fame.
“Adela, you won’t believe how nice he is,” Renee’s blue eyes popped in the same way they did when she told me about her ghost. “He’s smaller than I thought he’d be, too. He does cool makeovers. He knows just what to do to make a person look good. He’s a hair celebrity. And he treats everybody like she’s a movie star.”
I noticed with little girls, she always, always points out how smart they are. “It’s not all about how you actually look, there’s more to being a woman than being gorgeous. There’s more to being gorgeous than a woman’s physical features.”
Renée knew she wanted to be a stylist since she was a little girl. She talked everyone into getting their haircut. She just knew she could do it. She just wasn’t very good at it back in first grade. So Renée started beauty school when she was 15, had her license by the time she was 17, and got really, really good at it.
It’s the best job in the world. “I love everything about it. It’s FUN.” There’s that wide-eyed look again.
“I believe you Renée,” I say. I am awed by people who have such a clear vision of who they want to be. It’s like a calling more than a career.
I push her a little. Is there anything you don’t like?
Sometimes people can be tricky. They want a change for the wrong reason.”
As a person who likes change, I remember how in our early years together, she’d ask me why I wanted to change my hairstyle.
“Sometimes people are going through a big life change, like a divorce or maybe they lost their job. They think a new haircut will make them feel better. That can be tricky.”
“I just wish people would do more with their natural looks, rather than try to look like someone else. There’s beauty in everyone I meet.”
I just like to change things up a bit. I go short, then I grow it out again. Plus, my hair texture changes. Right now it’s straight. But it’s been wavy and last summer it was down-right curly. I was about to tell Renée I planned to go long again. When she said,
“How about a Mohawk?”
I laughed. Like I said, Renée is funny.
“No really. You’ll love it. I promise.”
“At my age?” I still wasn’t sold.
“It’ll be great. A longer version than Vision Quest.”
Renée knows me. She wouldn’t go to crazy. Would she?
“The Mohawk is my new obsession. Wanna do it?” Who can resist Renée excitement? Besides, I like a little adventure.
What the heck,” I said. “Hair grows. Let’s go for it.”
I love it. So does Loved-One, who normally sweats each time I go to the salon. He’s loves my hair long. He likes undoing the updo. For some reason, this feels like I have long hair, just pulled back.
I get so many nape of the neck kisses with this haircut. And women stop me to ask me where I got it styled. Salon Coccolé, it’s Italian for “place to be pampered.” The name fits so well.
“Has anyone been disappointed with a haircut?” I ask Renée. Someone cried and told Renée she hated everything about it. Renée cried all the way home, only to find that her client ended up really loving the cut.
“YES! My best friend, gets mad every time I cut her hair. She’s a hairdresser too.”
I ran into Jenny a couple miles from my house. She’s at Salon Cora, where I get my nails done. Jenny did not know who cut my hair; I didn’t know Jenny.
“That’s a really nice cut,” she said to me. Turns out Jenny is Renée’s best friend; perhaps one of the first people to get a haircut from Renée when they were both just 8 years old.
Jenny and I launched into a Renée love-fest.
I love Jen’s cut, too. Renée transformed Jen’s from very long hair to a Mohawk.
Different hair textures and colors all look different. Somehow, Renée varies the cut to match our uniqueness. I love the way Christine’s outgrowth looks in her Mohawk:
Renée is not just obsessed with the Mohawk. She’s obsessed with making women feel and look beautiful.
When I left Renée, she was on her way to an updo seminar.
Please check out more of styles on her Instagram site: ReneeMStylist.
I love the hashtags she attached to my pic: #shorthairdontcare #redhair #thischickisawesome and others.
One more picture: This is Renée on her wedding day. The photographer captured her personality beautifully. This Chick is Awesome.