Long hair career toasted
Maureen Bowring has seen it all in her 41 years of hairdressing in Tawa, and is just thankful grunge has gone out of fashion.
The owner of Main Road’s Haircraft Centre had a tough year in 2011, with family illnesses preventing her celebrating 40 years in business, so she decided to go all out last month with a 41st anniversary party at the salon.
‘‘People were spilling out into the street,’’ she says.
Mrs Bowring arrived in Tawa in 1971 as a newlywed and began as a senior stylist at what was then called Salon Elisabeth, located upstairs from where she works now. She bought the salon and changed its name in 1978, and moved it downstairs 15 years ago.
Sets and permanent waves were all the rage when Mrs Bowring arrived in Tawa – the stylists would do a set every 15 minutes in the 1970s, and at least 12 perms a day.
The era of Vidal Sassoon wedge cuts and Mary Quant pageboys was just arriving, she says.
‘‘ Everybody wanted a pageboy. That look is still there, it’s now in a different version, a bob.’’
In the 1990s came grunge, and clients wanted hairstyles that looked like they hadn’t visited a salon at all, Mrs Bowring says.
‘‘ We’ve been through the grunge look. I prefer more coiffured hair, hair that looks as though you’ve done something to it. It’s more feminine.’’
Today Mrs Bowring’s salon has just two old-fashioned wallmounted hairdryers, down from nine in 1971. Blow-dries have replaced sets and getting a colour in your hair is as popular as perms once were, she says.
Fancy up-dos are popular with young people who want their hair to match a glamorous outfit, Mrs Bowring says.
‘‘We’re in the fashion industry and it’s dominated by clothing and the hair works around that.’’
Mrs Bowring is now seeing her clients’ children and grandchildren in the salon.
‘‘Tawa has served me well. We have lots of lovely clients.’’
The whole hairdressing industry has grown up in the time Mrs Bowring has been cutting hair. Whereas parents were once horrified at the idea of their children becoming hairdressers, the training is now supported by unit standards and is a respectable career, she says.
Mrs Bowring is a passionate advocate for her industry and for high standards of training. She is a past president of the Wellington Hairdressers’ Association, represents employers on the Wellington apprenticeship committee and is an industry assessor and examiner.
‘‘I just love training the apprentices, watching them grow, being part of an industry that has grown so fast and with the times,’’ she says.
Hairdressing can transform people’s lives, which she says is the greatest satisfaction of the job. ‘‘Clients that have never had their hair done before, they come in and just give you a big hug and say they never knew they could look like this. That doesn’t happen in any other careers.’’
Hair today: After 41 years in business, Tawa Haircraft Centre’s Maureen Bowring has many long-term clients such as Katrina Randerson.