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  • Chichester Pride

Introducing non-binary haircuts into my business | By Co-host Melissa from Melisshair

Education carries on outside the classroom, and it is so encouraging that people want to carry on learning.

As well as contributing my time to Chichester Pride, I work full time running my own boutique salon in the village of East Wittering. As I identify under the Pride umbrella & helping to organise Chichester’s first Pride, I feel it is so important to practice what I preach, which led me to investigate all areas of my life, and this also included my business.

During the lockdowns I read articles online about non-binary humans and their anxiety of entering salons, not knowing how they would be charged, with a reply from a salon saying they charged their clients for their time, and not based on a human’s gender. This made total sense.

When going to the dentist, all humans pay the same price due to the work they have done. You’re paying for their knowledge and experience and continued training. I put the same amount of effort into every haircut I do, and continue to train in my trade, yet I charged differently depending on gender alone. Where is the equality in that?

The hairdressing industry still separates two genders and does not conform to equality. Why? I do not know the answer to this, but it was something that I had to address in my salon.

It was a hard process to work through in my head. I was afraid of losing clients, which would mean a loss of income. Would I be able to achieve this? I worked it out with separate clipper cuts, finger cuts (sectioning the hair and cutting through your fingers), and the length of hair that needs blow-drying. It is essentially the time concept, but I wanted to break this down for my clients, and the prices are:

Clipper cut £28.50

Finger haircuts

Short hair, finger blowdry £46.00

Above shoulder length & blow dry £51.00

Below shoulder length & blow dry £56.00

Below shoulder blades & blow dry £61.00

The reaction I got was positive. Carolyn Sweeney, salon owner of Creations South Street, Chichester & Kin Connect- Advancing Salon Business reached out on behalf of her salon and a group other from the Kin Connect programme so team members could ask open and frank questions and talk about pronouns.

We did this throughout 2 zoom sessions, where I talked about my journey above, becoming a gender-neutral salon, and the pronoun debate. What is apparent, not only in salons but all over, is that people are scared to ask about pronouns… but really want to get it right for humans. The only way to get it right is to ask.

The fear of offending someone is the main reason that many people become so ill-informed, as people tend to then assume a conclusion based on small amounts of information that they learn. Such as what do they do for work, do they own a house, have a business, have children, go on holiday, how many times a year? All these small amounts of information that we collect and then use stereotyping for our answers, which often lead to the wrong outlook.

Yes, some questions are personal, and there are lines you perhaps should not cross, but if you are asking with sincerity, I know that to be understood I need to expect a certain number of questions; it is a 2-way street, I can’t expect people to know how to address me.

If it is something I do not offer in my introduction, then personally, I think it is lovely for a human to ask, “How would you like to be addressed?”

Being part of the Pride community I am no expert, I know what affects me and my life, and sure I can give an opinion on better ways to address situations, but that doesn’t mean it will be suitable for everyone. My biggest bit of advice is, ‘nobody is textbook’

You cannot assume that as one person has lived and experienced one form of trials and jubilations, someone else will have had the same journey. We all have different outside factors, the only way to find this out is to converse and ask.

Be polite, be sincere, ASK…..

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