FOR most people, a trip to the local hair salon provides an opportunity to sit down, relax, and escape from the pressures of day-to-day life.
Having been with the same colourist for almost a decade, I understand the true value of time spent in the hairdresser’s chair.
It is in those few short hours that I get the chance to take a breather, have a coffee and spill the beans to the person wielding a comb and foils.
The importance of the close hairdresser-client relationship has always been something 39-year-old colourist Leah Copedo has encouraged on the salon floor.
As director and head colour technician at the Toni & Guy Cotton Tree salon, Leah is a skilled listener who knows her way around hair.
A colourist with a difference, she has a background in social work and the papers to prove she is qualified to give sound advice to her clients.
Since the salon opened its doors last December, her staff has been busy providing high-quality services and working hard to build strong relationships within the community.
“We really look at our clients as friends, and everyone is welcome,” she said.
“We have a really friendly team and I just think that it’s really important to help people feel good when they come in to the salon.”
Leah said it was easy to understand why people were so comfortable in the chair, when you considered how hands-on hairdressers can be.
“We are touching their hair so it’s a real personal space that we get into,” she said.
“I guess that’s why people feel relaxed and feel like they can talk about things.”
Originally from the Coramandel Coast on the North Island of New Zealand, Leah was drawn to a career in hairdressing at age 18, because she wanted to work in a creative industry.
But when she turned 28, she made the big decision to branch out from hairdressing.
With a heart for community work, she went on to study a Bachelor of Social Science and Human Services degree at the Queensland University of Technology.
But not until 2004 did the colourist finally said goodbye to hairdressing, after she moved from Brisbane to Diamond Valley in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
The change of scenery gave Leah and her partner Donnie time to settle down and raise their two young boys Avalon and Indigo, while she continued her work in the community sector.
Six years on and Leah has now found a way to incorporate both passions into her day job.
Having stepped back behind the chair, she has come out saying that her salon will work towards supporting the region, through various initiatives and social projects.
“Even though we are an international franchise, I want people to understand that we are very much about locals,” she said.
Leah has come to realise that social work and hairdressing go well together.
“I think they are linked in a way, just because we work so closely with people,” she said.
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