Last December, while I stood in line to get a Belgian waffle as a holiday treat during our monthly Tyler Mason staff meeting, Rachel, one of our master stylists, approached me and asked, “Nicole, what are your hair goals?”
I sheepishly ran my hand through my very long pixie cut and replied, “I’m trying to grow my hair out.”
Rachel, who is also Tyler Mason’s New Talent Director, asked if I would be interested in being a hair model for her and Brianna, our junior stylist who graduated from Aveda Fredric’s Institute in September 2022. Before becoming a junior stylist, Brianna and I worked together at Guests Services. We became fast friends because of how much I love her sweet, bubbly personality and hearing stories about her precious pets.
Before Rachel even described to me what being a hair model would entail, I told her, “Sure!” because I would do anything to help my passionate, hard-working friend during her apprenticeship. Before becoming a level one stylist at Tyler Mason, Brianna must complete the salon’s skill certification program.
Rachel explained how I would be a hair model during one of her training classes with Brianna in January. She would cut and style my hair while Brianna shadowed to learn and ask questions about the techniques used to cut shorter hair.
When I returned to my seat for our staff meeting and ate my Belgian waffle topped with mini chocolate chips and whipped cream, I couldn’t stop grinning. Not only was my waffle delicious, but I was so excited to start 2023 off with a new hairstyle that’ll be one step closer to achieving my hair goals!
Why I’m Growing Out My Hair
I’ve been dedicated to my pixie cut since July 2020. When I came home from Ball State University in March 2020 to finish my junior year virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I spent many nights before bed scrolling through Pinterest obsessing over every pixie haircut photo I saw.
At the time, my hair was collarbone-length. My French 302 classmates and fellow editors at our college newspaper only ever saw me during our Zoom meetings wearing my hair up in a ponytail with my stretched-out green scrunchie I had crocheted.
By that summer, I was tired of my hair touching my face and neck all the time, so I called Tyler Mason, the hair salon I’d been visiting since I was 10 years old. I scheduled an appointment with my stylist Kelley for a Design Cut on July 24, 2020. This would have been the day I traveled to Chicago for the first time for Harry Styles’ Love on Tour concert if it hadn’t been canceled due to the pandemic. But, it was an adventurous day nonetheless as Kelley cut my 12-inches of hair into an asymmetrical pixie cut I fell in love with on Pinterest.
Before stepping foot in the salon, I felt sweaty all over, even though my car was blasting the air conditioning. Despite dreaming about cutting my hair into a pixie style the last five months, I was having second thoughts the day of my appointment. I have a rounder face, and my full cheeks make my eyes squint whenever I smile, so I worried a pixie cut wouldn’t suit my face shape.
Throughout my appointment, I remember Kelley asking me, “Are you okay? Are you freaking out?” as my hair fell from her shears to the floor. She could only see my squinting eyes, but I couldn’t stop smiling underneath my mask. The closest I’ve felt to shedding happy tears was in that moment as I replied to her, “I’m just so happy!”
The weight of my hair was lifted off my shoulders as Kelley continued with blow-drying my hair and used Davines’ Forming Pomade for a tousled style. When she took off my cape, I no longer worried about whether my pixie cut would suit my round cheeks. I truly felt like I was meant to have short hair.
I loved my pixie cut for two years. It was perfect as I headed back to Ball State University’s campus that fall for my senior year. I would let my hair air-dry after my nightly showers. All it needed was a quick brush-through before I would leave my dorm or when I’d roll out of bed minutes before my 9 a.m. feature writing class on Zoom.
But, a few months after I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Magazine Media Journalism, I felt myself growing bored of my pixie cut. I would miss the days where I could Dutch braid my hair, curl it or add accessories, like my beloved crochet scrunchies.
My wishes culminated on the day of my older sister Megan’s wedding, August 21, 2022. As one of her bridesmaids, we spent that Sunday morning getting ready in a classroom at her wedding venue. I loved witnessing Megan’s hairstylist’s magic as she teased my sister’s hair and her 20-inch-long hair extensions into a half-updo mighty enough to hold her cathedral veil and blusher.
But, as the rest of the bridal party, our mom and Megan’s soon-to-be mother-in-law had their hair styled into updos accessorized with dainty dusty rose and burgundy flowers, I sat at a table playing Words with Friends on my phone. My pixie cut was too short to curl, braid or pin into a bun with a dozen bobby pins. That day, I truly missed the fun I could have with longer hair, so I decided to begin the painful journey of growing out a pixie cut that I had always heard about.
In October, I had to start clipping back my hair with mini claw clips I borrowed from my mother’s collection. I wore headbands constantly around my home to keep my grown-out bangs out of my face. By December, I definitely had what I considered a mullet — shorter in the front, longer in the back — as my hair grew down my neck.
My frustration grew simultaneously with my hair as I tried and failed to tame the different lengths of my hair. I’m so thankful Rachel approached me with the opportunity to be a hair model for her and Brianna’s apprenticeship class.
Continue to read about my hair journey and how Rachel and Brianna created my new hairstyle in my next blog post!
Learn more about Rachel, Kelley, and Brianna’s education, experience, specialties and favorite products on our Meet the Team page.
Nicole Thomas is a Marketing Assistant and Guest Services Representative for Tyler Mason Salon & Spa. She is also a passionate writer and digital marketer for several Indiana-based women’s magazines. When she isn’t at TM, she loves cozying up with a book and cup of coffee or crocheting a new cardigan for her wardrobe.