Originally created 09/16/97

Hair stylist says job is a cut above the rest



Even a good haircut won't turn you into Cindy Crawford.

Hair stylist Ginger Zepp will do her best, but don't expect to gain a foot in height, a tiny mole on your cheek and a few million dollars in your bank account when you climb out of her chair.

"People will come in here with pictures and want to look like the people in the pictures," Mrs. Zepp said. "I had a teen-ager come in with a photo of Cindy Crawford and say she wanted her hair to look like that - and what she really wanted was to look like that."

Mrs. Zepp does want to make you look your best, and it's the creative aspect of her job that she finds appealing - figuring out how to give people the looks they want, she said.

"I was scared to death to get on the floor and cut somebody's hair the first time I did it," she added. "Now, I do it all the time, not just at work. I do it when I get home, too. I cut my husband's hair, my friends' hair."

She has had her hands in other people's hair since high school, when she got a job shampooing at a hair salon. She has known since she was tiny, when she was having her hair done for dance recitals, that she wanted to make a career of hair-styling.

Her favorite customers, she said, are those getting their first haircuts - the little kids, some too young to sit up in her chair. One 6-month-old boy slept in his father's lap as she trimmed his downy locks. Parents will bring in video cameras to tape the first haircut, she said.

She tries to put the children at ease - some are as petrified as they would be in a dentist's chair.

With older customers, she makes easy conversation as she snips - steering away from topics such as religion, which might stir controversy or offend other customers. People sit in her chair and talk about their bosses, their families, their divorces. Children talk about school or their vacations.

Some customers don't really want to talk, and they indicate their reluctance with a small shrug. Respecting their wishes, she finishes those haircuts quickly, efficiently and quietly.

"A lot of men just want to come in here and relax," she observed.

That seems to be one of the side benefits of a haircut: relaxation, especially under the soothing stream of water and the gentle massage of a shampoo.

"People say it just doesn't feel the same washing your hair at home," she said with a grin. "They'll come in here and get a shampoo and say, `This is the first time all day I've felt relaxed."'

Job profile

Subject: Ginger Zepp, assistant manager, Hair Cuttery at 2816 Washington Road

Time in field: Six years

Training: Graduated from Augusta Technical Institute and passed a state board examination to get a license. The full-day examination in Atlanta included hands-on tests of cutting and perming a mannequin's hair and a written exam.

Best part of job: "I really like meeting all the customers and talking to them. I hear all kinds of stories."

Worst part of job: "Going home with hair all over you, stuck in your skin, in your shoes. All my clothes have hair embedded in them. And the job is hard on your feet and back."