More than a stylist

Senior hairstylist is friend to those who occupy her chair


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Jaylene Hageman styles Marge Acree’s hair at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center.

AMY M. ARMSTRONG

Apply plenty of gel before. Spray a fair amount of high-holding hairspray afterward. Use lots of tender loving care and listen with an empathetic ear in between. That’s the secret to a successful shampoo set at the Styles Your Way salon run by Jayleen Hageman at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center.

“My clients come in here for more than just getting their hair done,” Hageman said.

At age 23, she’s many decades the junior of her clients yet in the short time period since November 2013 when Hageman took over, she’s developed an enviable rapport with the center’s resident clients who sit her chair on a weekly basis.

“They like their time with you. The attention they get and what you are doing for them makes them feel better,” she said.

And there is just something about touching a person’s head that facilitates a trusting relationship in which the conversation during the hair cutting quickly drifts from “how much to take off” to “how did your doctor’s appointment go” or “what have you heard lately from your grandchildren?”

That works for Hageman, a 2009 Eagle River High School graduate, who spent a few years out of state in Montana where she went to cosmetology school and began a stylist career in a nursing home there. She knows her clients have endless stories to tell about the lives they lived.

“This is my forte,” she said as she rolled another curler into Marge Acree’s hair turning her attention back to the woman sitting in the beauty chair. “How is that perm working out for you, Marge? Are the curls staying in a little better?”

“Oh, yes,” comes the answer from Acree, followed by a knowing smile.

While Acree appreciates the beauty services provided by Hageman, there’s something she likes even more about the young woman meticulously separating Acree’s tresses to be wrapped with curlers.

“She is cheerful all the time,” she said. “And so friendly. She also keeps her appointments on time.”

That last tid-bit is rather important for a salon whose customers whose years around the block have led to set schedules and at times, senior center staff members accompanying them to ensure safe journeys from their center homes to the salon. At times, Hageman accompanies her clients back to their rooms. It’s extra travel time that stylists working in other salons don’t have to account for in their days and yet another reason Hageman hustles to stick to her schedule.

That additional requirement doesn’t seem to faze her and she regularly takes just a little bit longer chatting with each client rather than rushing them out of her stylist chair. She also greets other center staff members as she briskly walks behind wheelchairs returning clients to their rooms and often asks quick questions about their day or an update on what is happening in their lives. She’s become an integral part of the community at the senior center – much more than she expected when she took over for a beloved stylist that retired after more than a decade of doing hair for the aged set.

 

Love times two

Not only did Hageman find a job she loves, she found a man to love.

Technically, his stepfather found her for him. Scott Otis, one of the center’s long-time maintenance workers, set Hageman up with his step-son Anthony Peters. After a less than successful first date last Halloween, the two gave it another go earlier this year and now Hageman is sporting a sizeable rock on that special finger.

But that doesn’t mean she takes him to the dance.

In May, the center held its own military ball. Residents and others from the community squeezed back into the uniforms from their glory days and danced the night away to big band music from a bygone era. Hageman took one of her favorite male clients. Her man took one of the widowed residents from the center.

“It was great,” Hageman beamed. “My date and I were the first ones on the floor and we got everybody else dancing.”

It takes a bit of spunk to keep spirits high when clients often talk about life-threatening diseases, the removal of cancer spots from their face or neck and perhaps the lack of communication from their own family members.

It also takes some interpretation skills to fully understand voices that time’s march has slurred. Yet Hageman has it mastered.

Tony Woodward, one of her pedicure and manicure clients, appreciates her efforts. His enunciation is muddy, but his chat is unfettered. Hageman carefully checks the water in the pedicure pool as Woodward settles in to have his nails worked on to combat the effect of age and medications.

He tells her he used to get perms.

Hageman laughs back saying, “You are showing your age, Tone” as she gives him a quick wink acknowledging she’s just teasing.

He laughs. It’s clearly a comfortable relationship as she gently chastises him for wearing his leg brace too tight. “Hey, what’s this?” she asks as she points to a bruise on the back of his leg right behind his knee. “You are wearing that brace too tight again, Tone.”

She isn’t kidding around though when she tells him he needs to wear socks with his brace and tennis shoes to avoid absorb sweat and prevent bacteria from growing on his feet. He tells her he struggles with getting his socks on.

“No problem,” she replies. “You come on down here with your socks and either me or my mom will help you out.”

Hageman’s mother, Sue Newson, runs the center-based 6 Penny Nails. She’s there Friday through Mondays. Hageman, who is now also doing nails during the hair salon hours, is at the center Tuesday through Friday. Use of the salon is not limited to senior center residents, Hageman said. The public is welcome.

That was great news for Linda Gallo-Hutson. She brought her mother, Lois Gallo, in for a haircut. It was the first time Hageman had cut her hair. It won’t be last.

Gallo-Hutson watched with relief as Hageman gently combed through her mother’s hair, cut off the split ends and kept the air from the blow dryer from hitting her face.

“You have lots of volume,” Hageman told Gallo as she styled her hair.

Gallo-Hutson smiled.

“Yes, she is quite blessed,” she said.

She paused for a moment as she saw a smile spread across her mother’s face when she looked in the mirror before Hageman removed the cape fastened around her neck to protect her clothing from falling hair.

“We definitely will be back. Mom has not been this happy with her hair or it look like this good for quite some time.”

That put a sincere smile on Hageman’s face and put a bit more purpose behind the sweeping up of hair fallen to the floor.

“It’s cozy here,” she said. “I think I have found my niche. I always wanted to run my own business and here I can do that. I like being able to establish the relationships with my clients. I think I am going to stay here for quite awhile.”

 

Reach Hageman at Styles Your Way at 688-2697.

 

Reach the reporter at editor@alaskastar.com and reference Amy M. Armstrong.

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