Exploring Beauty with Bronwyn Parsons
October 21, 2020
Bronwyn Parsons Owner and Stylist at Willow and Wolfe Santa Cruz, Ca.
You know those people that the moment you meet them, you're like, ‘Um, hello... Where have you been all my life?’
A little forward, I know. But that's how I feel about Bronwyn Parsons and I still haven't even met her in person. I reached out to her because Megan Piety (first interview) thought she might be interested in what I was up to with this project. When I emailed Bronwyn she was immediately STOKED and saw it as an opportunity to look at her "why?"... Her "why?" of why she is doing hair and owning a salon? Why is it worth it? Why did she choose to go into this industry? Why does she choose to stay despite all the challenges?
I started this project right in the middle of the (first for some) shutdown. I was somewhat aware of how it was impacting my salon friends, but I needed more. After speaking to Bronwyn about her own "why," she inspired me to look at mine.
Perhaps this interview is a chance for you to look at your "why" as well? Why are you doing all that you are doing? Is it worth it? How could it be better? What do you imagine to be different? What do you wish to be different? Is it just that the grass is always greener? Or is it time to really make a change?
Thinking about our interview brings me a deep sense of calm and appreciation. All of my interviews were my favorite in their different ways because they were each so unique and special in their own ways. Bronwyn was the last person that I interviewed and was my favorite (shhhh… don’t tell the others hehe) because I felt like I was talking to an old friend. In addition, I had talked to so many incredible other people and I had gotten really comfortable and confident with my project. She was someone that I just understood and she understood me. Someone that had the same values as me, had so much to teach me, share with me, and was so brilliant.
Learning about what beauty has been to me and allowing it to change over time has helped my perspectives of myself and others expand into deeper, more compassionate understandings. Having once believed that I needed to put cover-up on my face everyday, wear cute clothes that weren’t quite right for me, and try to be something I am just not, showed me how easy it is to want to be like everyone else when one doesn’t know who they are. I now often get twenty minutes away from the house and realize how easily I forgot my makeup bag and I seem to quickly accept that I will not be wearing makeup on my night out. It’s quite nice, really!
Wearing so much makeup and doing what everyone else is doing to try to look like everyone else, has also shown me the “off” feeling that I never want to feel again. Or, at least, when I do feel it I know that it is important to pay attention to, listen to what it has to say, and why it’s talking to me.
Interesting thought -- allowing myself to be a follower, wanting to be like everyone else, to fit in, actually was a huge piece of me learning about my intuitions. I allowed myself to be an observer, someone that was insecure and unsure about her existence. And in return, I now love trying on things like ideas or ways of being to see what it’s like, to see if it fits, and if the true core of myself comes alive with that thing.
The Beauty Industry to Bronwyn is a web that is multi-faceted and very complicated. It can be anything you want it to be and there is a unique clientele for each unique stylist. There is the vanity that people only choose to be a part of. There is the other part that Bronwyn fits into that is full of support, feelings of beauty and confidence, and being someone that will listen. The Beauty Industry to her is an opportunity to impact people. It’s not just about looking perfect with the perfect hair; it’s about being of service to the guests. It truly is that for Bronwyn.
Bronwyn’s ability to take all of her values from doing hair, being of service, being creative, to helping the planet with an eco-friendly salon are important examples of leadership. She has found ways to take care of the important things while running a business and being a responsible human with a big heart that cares. These are all great reminders for me, especially during a time where my strength for caring and standing up for the right thing is being challenged and worn thin.
Just the other day, I felt beaten down by the weight of the desire of being a good human. Feelings of, ‘What’s the point? Why are we here? Why can’t we all just get along? Will we ever find peace? It just seems like there will always be conflict and never any actual resolve. I feel hopeless.’
Though I am able to easily push those feelings aside and not talk about them because they often get a response of, “wow that’s intense” with the person trying to pull me out of it. I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are a great deal of us that have hopelessness living inside of us and yet appear to be positive, “have it together,” and aren’t taken down by the impending doom and gloom hanging off the shoulders of each human being.
But, talking to Bronwyn inspired a spark inside of me that exists that’s all about joy and sorrow. I even read her the passage from The Prophet about joy and sorrow after our interview was over. It just felt right. Bronwyn sharing about how she brings all of her values to her salon was important to me because it was a reminder that not everyone sucks.
To me, I see people working in the beauty industry’s impact on others as being one of the top items on a list of all the things they do. I find it fascinating that so many talk about how much they love their nail girl or their hairstylist and they talk about their relationship being so special. (Ohhhh man… Just thought of another piece to the project, interviewing people about what they love about people in the beauty industry!).
Something many people in the beauty industry talk about are all the shoes they fill. I asked Bronwyn to make me this very list of all the different roles she does. It looks like this: Safety officer. Educator. Bookkeeper. Product salesperson. Product marketer/ educator. Quality control. Administrator. Receptionist. Masseuse. Therapist. Cleaner. Confidante. Florist. Inventory stock clerk. Marketing specialist. Graphic designer. Public relations director. Director of Social advertising. Finance manager. Client services + customer relations management. Chemist. All while doing hair.
Bronwyn is truly dynamic, deep, and full of magic. In our interview she shares much more wisdom than I touch on here. I think I could write a ten page essay on our interview. So for now, I will leave it here and hope that you enjoy this very powerful and beautiful interview.
Thank you Bronwyn for making the beauty industry beautiful!
Love and gratitude,
Creator/ Founder of The Beauty Project
Bronwyn's Beauty Statement: "Beauty to me is a feeling that once we are able to dive deep and pull it out. It’s a feeling that we are all created perfectly differently. We are all different but in that difference we are perfectly created. Beauty truly is the fact that we all have something unique to offer to this life. And that’s what beauty is created from.
The beauty industry means to me lifeline. Change. Everchanging. I love how we have the opportunity to decide where we want to go in the beauty industry. I love how we have the opportunity to make changes whether its more grand scale of what you are working with i.e. eco products that are beneficial for the earth and our health. Or even more on a microscale where you are one on one with your guest and you're able to help them release their inner radiance. It’s a lifeline to creatives who want to make a difference.
I would like people to know that the beauty industry is multifaceted. It’s not just one thing. It’s not one type of person. It is a crystal ball that holds the universe. There is so much inside of it and it goes so deep that if you looked into the beauty industry it might just seem esthetic, it’s just about looks. It’s about how things are perceived. And in actuality, it’s so much more than that. Hair stylists and everyone that makes up the beauty industry have been able to show that with the closures and everyone was fighting for us to come back because we offer a feeling, not just a service.
I am beautiful because I feel deeply. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. And because I feel deeply, I feel deeply for others. I am able to give people the opportunity and the space to feel those things that aren’t so comfortable for them and get to the root of their truth and their authenticity, to feel those amazing feelings of beauty."