#NotInMyChair: Addressing Hate Speech In the Salon
Addressing hate speech in the salon, specifically in your own chair from clients can be a daunting task to take on–or to even think about.
We talked to the creator of the #NotInMyChair movement Courtney Kimball on why she started the movement, the reaction it has gotten and how you as a hair stylist or salon owner can tackle hate speech yourself in a professional manner.
It is not easy, but uncomfortable conversations are the way forward! We hope this conversation will help you in navigating tricky situations in the salon.
Learn how to take down hate speech in salon with Courtney below!
Tell us a little bit about your salon and your place in the industry!
I own a salon in San Francisco called Wanderlust Salon which was established in 2012. I named the salon after my late grandparents who were avid travelers and passed their love for adventure down to my dad who then passed it on to me. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have chosen a career with the flexibility to allow me to travel and experience different cultures and a clientele who is not only understanding with my wild schedule but supports my adventures. I am currently living in Los Angeles and am working at Pine and Palm Salon with my friend Jen Luna who happens to be a curly/textured hair specialist so I am super excited to be able to learn more from her. It’s just the two of us there and she has created such a warm space but it’s much more private than a classic large salon. It’s a strange time to be in a touch-industry position so I’m really confident in mine and Jen’s ability to keep ourselves and our clients safe. Jen also travels back to New York to take clients there so she understands the importance of balancing multiple sets of clientele without spreading ourselves too thin or making anyone feel like they’re getting less than 100% of us. I am expanding myself to become a triple city stylist and starting my journey of guest spotting in Portland, OR at Chelsea Salon later this summer and am incredibly excited to be able to offer organic, low-tox services to LA, SF and Portland. It’s going to be a wild ride but I love that I’ll get to meet so many different types of people and paint the whole west coast! I’m so thankful to have such supportive, diverse and beautiful humans to work alongside who not only support me as a stylist but also hold the same ideals and I want to see more equality and inclusive in our industry.
What inspired you to start the #NotInMyChair movement? Can you tell us a bit about its origins?
I really just wanted to express my personal promises I made to help spread love and acceptance. I am by no means perfect so it came from a very personal place of wanting to continue to do the work to be an ally for folx who have endured systemic oppression, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, colonialism or any other type of hatred for not being a cis-gendered white individual. I am incredibly lucky to have lived a privileged life and I feel as though it’s now my job to make sure I do all I can to use my voice to help break the systems that have been so far ingrained in our cultural norms that cause oppression.
What are your tips for stylists who might have to have these hard conversations with their clients? With their salon managers, staff, fellow coworkers?
Honestly my biggest tip is to not be scared to stand up for equality. Any time I feel like a conversation is “hard” for me I try to step back and remind myself how difficult it is for folx who are marginalized and remember their struggles are now my struggles since I’ve vowed to be an ally. The hardest conversations make the biggest impacts and whether it’s a client, boss, coworker or even a family member you have to be okay with the idea that you may need to cut someone out if they’re tolerant of hatred. There will always be more clients to fill your chair, another salon who aligns with your morals or friends you can make if people choose to weed themselves out of your life. At this point it’s not something we can agree to disagree on. We need to all be ACTIVELY [practicing] non acceptance of hatred.
What do you think about the reaction to #NotInMyChair and how it has caught on?
I am THRILLED to see so many stylists using their platform to spread love. I’ve been in the industry for 19 years and have always been told by former employers to leave “politics” out of conversations in my chair. It’s good to know so many salon owners and stylists understand this isn’t about politics, it’s about ethics. These aren’t opinions about whether or not we like coffee, it’s about basic human rights and making sure everyone feels accepted and safe.
What are some practical steps stylists and salon owners can take to address hate speech in the salon?
Implement zero tolerance policies! Post your mission everywhere. Communicate with your staff. Be active in your anti hate practices. Remember that this is all work but it’s work that is important and detrimental.
What is your vision for the future of the beauty industry?
I want school curriculum to change so there is equal time spent learning all types of hair care. I want a zero tolerance policy in EVERY salon for hate speech. I want companies to be more inclusive not only with their content but with their hiring of educators and ambassadors. I want the companies who have wronged marginalized people to take accountability and push to do better in the future. I want hierarchy in salons to end. I want assistants and support staff to be treated as well as stylists. I want fair pay for all. I want stylists to remember to take care of their mental health and personal boundaries. I want the beauty industry to be as BEAUTIFUL and inclusive at the core as possible.