Barbara Littles didn’t dream of being a hair stylist from a young girl or even style her friends’ hair as a hobby. Rather she wasn’t a fan of school work and jumped on the opportunity to start beauty school her senior year in order to shorten her day. Fortunately she stayed with the career and has grown to love the ever-changing trends almost as much as her clientele.
LOCAL 219: Okay, first question, was it circumstances hobbies or your childhood that led you to be doing what you’re doing?
BARBARA LITTLES: Circumstances. I was a non-complying high school student who needed 12 credits to graduate her senior year. This gave me half of them and got me out of school for half a day. I was the kid who never wanted to do school work.
L219: I can relate to that! At home did you like styling hair or anything?
BL: I literally never so much as cut a Barbie doll’s hair. I never cut my own, nothing.
L219: You basically said, “this is a way to get out of school. Let’s do it.”
BL: Yeah, and it ended up kind of working out.
L219: So you liked, what you were learning, I imagine?
BL: Yeah. I mean, it took a while because there’s a lot of idiosyncrasies in this business that you’ve got to learn. You know, your color isn’t really what you learn when you’re in the school. That’s much more controlled.
L219: Did you like the science behind it?
BL: When I finally got out of school and started doing hair, I liked being able to make things; try to take what you have in pictured in your head and extract that from you, then make it happen. That’s the fun part.
L219: So understanding what’s in someone’s mind and bring it to reality. I’m sure you have your customers come in with a picture saying, “I want this,” and you’re thinking, “no you don’t. You think you do, but that won’t work for you.”
BL: My personal favorite response is, “You realize that was Photoshopped, right?”
L219: Ha! I bet. What gets you out of bed in the morning? What gets you excited for the day?
BL: Oh, I’m one of those disgusting people. I get up first thing in the morning and I’m just going.
L219: Really? I don’t think that disgusting! I think that’s admirable and something others long to be able to do.
BL: A lot of people they’re like, “I’m not a morning person,” and I’m always just up and going. I get up and literally put myself together a little bit, so I don’t scare anybody, and take the dog for a two mile walk first thing in the morning.
L219: So, it’s just the grind of life. You live for it.
BL: Yeah, it’s just how I function.
L219: I love it. Who has been one of the greatest influence in your life?
BL: I wouldn’t say there’s maybe a one.
What I’m finding as I get older, and it’s not a competition, I like keeping my foot dipped into the things that the people younger than me are doing. Really, I do.
I just went to a hair extension class. Even the instructor was like, 15 years younger than me, like 35. Hair extensions are something newer to me, and I just, I don’t want to say ‘keep up with the Jones’s, but maybe keep up with the times? I like that kind of challenge.
L219: Like the challenges that inspire you.
BL: Not the colors. Like the reds and blues and green; I never got into that, but more of the hands on, where I can do something like extensions, is much more manageable, much more controllable and there’s less damage to the hair.
L219: So there’s not so much one person as a personal inspiring factor of life. The desire for continued growth.
BL: Yeah, it’s kind of fun. I used to hear from Katie, who worked here, that I don’t dress like someone who is 50. It’s kind of cool. Just because I’m 50 doesn’t mean I have to act like I’m 50.
L219: It’s truly just a number. The human body is capable of incredible things if you manage it well.
BL: My ex in-law for her 80th or 85th birthday jumped out of a plane. She did the tandem jump, and that’s me. Keeping your toe in life. Keeping your toe in the life pool.
L219: Absolutely! You should never give up on growth or learning. What has been one of the greatest lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?
BL: Always measure twice, cut once. A lot of people will come in telling you what they think they want but they don’t realize what they’re telling you. Again, you have to get into their head. To measure and cut and figure out what they’re actually telling you.
L219: What they’re trying to achieve.
BL: Never trust what they’re telling you. Always pull out a little bit more. Ask another question. Ask the same question and a couple different ways. Yeah. One of the biggest ones, it’s probably the easiest to explain, is that people will come in saying, “I want my hair cut over my ears.” Over your ears can mean literally hanging over your ears, but it can also mean above your ears. So, just as blonde isn’t always blonde; you have ash blonde, you have gold blonde, you have caramel blonde. All of those things are translatable.
I really am trying to make people happy. That’s like the best thing about this is when you strike a 100 percent, you strike 100 percent, and I just want truly, to make people happy.
I’m never going to make a hundred percent of people have. I can accept that, but I want to do everything I can, picking your brain, so that we’re doing what you want to do.
L219: I feel like that has such a deeper analogy. You want to understand the desired outcome people have coming in, but how often do we make choices in life thinking if I do X it’ll result in me feeling or attaining Y? Though often the result doesn’t match our expectations.
BL: That reminds of the decoder from the Christmas story. It’s like, “Oh man, this was it. That was all I got.”
L219: My last question is what do you enjoy most about what you do?
BL: Making it happen, and that’s not going to be 100% of the time, but people can be a lot of fun. It’s so cool being in here because of all the people that I meet, and you know, I’ve had every tragedy you can think of. Births, deaths, houses burning, and you kind of get to go with people through that. Sometimes even the whole family. It can be very cool, but you have to be very open, and you have to kind of know when to switch your brain off and stop yourself from thinking about it.
L219: …or else you take it home with you.
BL: Yeah, and you can’t keep doing that.