I spent some time in Washington state – my cool uncle hooked me up with a car, and I toured around meeting people and taking photos.
I usually drive until my body needs to stand up, and I stop and make photos for a while to stretch out the kinks. One particular stop had to be in Elma, Washington. As I pulled into town I passed the coolest hair studio called Choppers. This shop stood out on a main street that looked like it might have been in the Andy Griffith show. To say the least, it was visually compelling, I decided to walk back (from where I had to park up the street) and introduce myself.
I met Crystal. She’s been in business for a little over a year, and told me her main motivation is the fact that she’s a single mom. Of course, as the name of her hair studio might suggest, she loves to ride her Harley. (However, the Harley in the photo belongs to one of Crystal’s clients.)
Crystal went to school and became a stylist so she could provide for her son – but working in somebody else’s shop meant she wasn’t making enough money, and was cramping her independent spirit. She decided to rent this space on Main Street and go for it on her own. Choppers was born.
She was so cool – well, after the initial “you’re who?” and “Why do you want to take my photo?” questions, she decided I wasn’t some crack pot, and then she warmed right up! She was so proud of what she had accomplished. Choppers had been in business for a little over one year, and business was good! She showed me where she had just finished a remodel, knocking out a wall and taking over the retail space next to her. Choppers doubled in size, and added the only tanning beds in a 45 mile radius, and it was working for her!
As we talked it was clear to me the best part of her being in business for herself was the fact that she could make her son the biggest priority in her life. She was very proud of the fact that she could run and have lunch with him everyday, that she could schedule appointments around his life and the little league games he played. She was doing all of this for him.
In spite of the fact that her business was growing, her priorities remained first her son, second time spent on her bike, and third, making the business. go.
While I was there, I got to speak with a couple of her customers. I was impressed that her customers were aware of her priorities too. In fact, for a while it kind of turned into a Crystal Fan Club meeting. It was clear that not only did her customers know Crystal’s priorities, and respected her even more for them.
As I drove away from Elma, I was filled with appreciation for the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States. Thinking about Crystal, and her ability to combine her love of people, love of motorcycles, and love of her family into a life that gave her a living – but more than that, a sense of accomplishment and contentment that just spilled out of her and made my life, and the lives of her customers better. She’s a great person – maybe next time I can drop by on a bike, and I’ll get some photos from our ride.