You know it's a good sign when other staff come around and ask what products / techniques were used for your style, and that's also how you know you are working with a true master. I didn't say ninja or wizard, but I may as well have, because James Colgan took my scruffy, faded bob and painted, tinted and shaped me into the me of about 10 years ago! Three weeks later, I am still getting compliments and stopped on the street, so let me tell the story of MY DAY WITH JAMES COLGAN.
James' Potrero Hill Location is sunny and charming!
Recently, OJ, my trusty 1974 VW Super Beetle, and I headed up to 18th street, next door to my favorite coffee house and magazine
hoard shop, Farley's, to visit with the newest biz on the block, and to get beautified. I didn't know it, but I had walked right into a raging neighborhood party, as passers-by and clients alike dropped in all day long to offer congratulations and welcome. Or maybe were they coming for the wine?
From the moment I walked in, it was a party, and not just because there was wine and chocolate. But, there was wine and chocolate, so, you know.
James Colgan. Not just for Union Square anymore!
James has been in Union Square (more about that in a bit) for 17 years, but recently opened a little jewelbox of a satellite salon in his home neighborhood of Potrero Hill. It's a darling little 40s storefront, and his chic minimalism has just poshed up the hood! Plus, there is wine (did I mention wine?) and some of the best coffee in San Francisco right next door. As I was thinking how perfect his placement is, neighbors strolled in and told him the very same thing. Mind readers, clearly.
Of course, as much fun as I was having chatting, I was also there to have work done, and even thought we'd already chatted on the phone, when I got there, James and I looked at images of hair that I like as well as some of me with cuts I liked (thanks, smart phone!) before he even picked up the scissors. I could see the wheels turning in his mind as he looked over my photos, played with my (then shaggy and messy hair) and remarked that he "loved the bronze, BUT..." That's always the kiss of death, right there, and it means WE WILL NOT BE KEEPING THE BRONZE. (Also, what were you thinking???) I pretty much told him that I trusted him (the Irish accent gets me every time!) so he could do what he thought was best. Was it risky? Probably. Am I glad I did? Absolutely!
Honestly, I could just DYE!
Everything starts with color. James is a Master Colorist, having trained extensively beginning in Dublin in the late 80s (and OH yes we dished all over the 80s, being the same age! Fun Fact: when James had hair, he used to style it up as New Wave as possible, a la Flock of Seagulls! No offense, but something tells me that his look now is more flattering. Just sayin...) So anyway, there was MUCH ADO about COLOR for my hair. I had never even heard of hair painting, but when James worked between two bowls of color and applied it with both brush and fingers, then another layer after the cut in little pockets, I learned. Or, I was schooled. Like I said, other staff members (like the lovely Irish Alicia, and the bubbly Hannah who gave me a final blowout at the end) kept asking him to show them what he had used and where. The Master was Dropping Science!
Washing that man... ahem!
While I LOVE my new do and color, I have to say, the very best thing, above all else, is having your hair washed for you. Nothing like it. James has strong fingers, he tells me, because he used to play keyboards and bass guitar. His dreams of becoming "U3" (his joke, not mine!) didn't pan out, but you can totally benefit if in no other way than by a good hair wash! Ahhh, who needs therapy?
The view from the wash chair - such a jewel box!
After the first two layers of hair color, it was time to shape the cut. I still didn't know what he was planning, but I was having such a grand time chatting with Alicia, who was balancing tending to her own clients (including the older gentleman who jokingly asked for The Donald Trump hairdo), pouring wine and general merriment. (Did I mention it was a party?) And I was in the hands of a master, so I let him do his thing. With sharp instruments. He even gave a quick razor demo, while I sat still as a statue, praying for no bloodshed. My prayers were answered.
Yes that is my NECK near that RAZOR...
James had decided on a Very Precise Sculpted Bob, and for that he used a razor. If you've ever worn a bob, you know it needs to be precise, especially at the nape of the neck. He made that happen AND I didn't have to go to the ER! We were all good. James finished the cut and then applied hilights strategically and put me back under the strange circular swirl machine that he tells me is to heat the color evenly so it sets in less time, but who was he kidding. I *know* it was a time travel device. I used it to go to County Mayo in 1989 and check out his fancy hair. He wasn't kidding!
Before and After - we are both looking sharp!
Before I knew it (well, actually I had been there all day, but there had been wine, so...) it was time for James to get himself gussied up to attend a fundraiser, and for my new do to be revealed! Hannah did a blow dry and James checked for strays (Nope. He does in fact know what he's doing.) and I got ready to head out on my merry way...
one last check of the line...
Honestly, I was having so much fun I didn't want to leave! Also, it had gotten dark and rainy out, but that is entirely beside the point. I enjoyed James and his staff so much, I decided to pay a visit to his original location, in San Francisco's tony Union Square the following week! But first, one last selfie:
Car selfies! You do them too, right?
I looked so fabulous, I just had to... FLY TO NEW YORK THE NEXT DAY TO SHOW OFF!!!
I love New York! See how I blend? ;)
Then when I got home, I went to visit James at Union Square, but as luck would have it, that day HE was in New York. I can't imagine why, I mean it's not like he went there to show off his own hair...Still, I had a visit with Hannah and snapped some fun pix. Check out the view they have, would you EVEN get any work done looking at that all day? (Asking for a friend.)
The Union Square location is dizzyingly chic.
Because you can never have too many selfies!
Union Square, in downtown San Francisco. Do you ever pretend it is 100 years ago and you get all fancy to Go Into Town? It involves dressing to the 9s and a little bit of a swagger. When you have a fresh new do, it helps with this quite a bit. After I popped in, I went downstairs to the Lacoste shop and looked over various preppy necessities, then went and grabbed a coffee at Cafe de la Presse, because: Union Square! Nothing like a bi-coastal swagger, thank you James!
You can avail yourself of this master yourself: James Colgan Salons or follow his Instagram @jamescolganhairsalons