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By Wendy Weinstein

Forty years later and still Wendy.

by | Feb 18, 2021 | GZ Salon News

I started out in the hair industry when I was 20 years old in 1980.

After I went to school for a year, I landed my first job in Reading, PA in ’81. My brother went to Albright College and knew someone who knew someone who worked for Paul Mazzotta, a hair care business run by two brothers, Joe and Paul Mazzotta. When I went up to interview with Joe, he told me they weren’t hiring at the moment, but I should check back from time to time because they might have an opening for an assistant soon.

I really wanted to get out of my parents’ basement, so I called Joe almost every other day. He finally gave in so he wouldn’t have to deal with my pleading any longer. He told me he couldn’t NOT hire someone who showed so much interest in working for him.

He and his brother had a color company called RENBOW and their claim to fame was a product called Crazy Colors. They did hair shows all over the East Coast and I knew early on that I wanted to be part of their team and be on stage as well. While at Mazzotta, I worked for some of the greatest hairdressers who taught me way more than I learned in school. After a year, I moved to Charlottesville, Va., and worked in a salon near UVA. I used everything I learned from the Mazzotta boys to pretend I was a big deal. I got my chops, as they say, by working on all the cool college kids. Plenty of them had just taken a semester abroad and I got to do some really fun cuts. Think Robert Smith from The Cure meets that chick from Berlin, and you have my clients from the early 80s.

That was my bar, and it was set high. I was the girl from the North who was doing all the fun hair in a little salon on Elliewood Ave. I met some of the coolest people that I am still friends with to this day.

That was 40 years ago. FORTY!!! WTF.

When I came back to Philly, I worked for another small salon on UPenn’s campus until I opened my first salon down the street in Powelton Village. I loved working on college campuses because I was surrounded by young people or people that wanted to stay young-looking. Students were more likely to go a little crazy with their styles, and I became an expert on staying trendy. Coincidentally, a lot of those same hairstyles have come back in 2021 — just look at the popularity of the Shag, or the Mullet, or the short, precise looks on men like the ones from the 50s and 60s. I quickly learned I needed to know the ins and outs of the current trends in order to teach them to my staff and perfect them on my clients. My clients expected and insisted on the very newest cuts, and every time I went to places like London or California, many of them would wait until I got back to cut their hair with all the newest ‘dos. My clients have always been my inspiration to keep relevant in my profession and in the biz. The rest of my time in Philly is history. I opened up Ground Zero salons all throughout the city, developing a huge clientele, and making great friends and connections that will last me a lifetime. So fast forward to not that long ago when one of my longtime clients asked me what my “exit plan” is. I was 58 at the time and I told him that I’d leave my job when they took the scissors out of my lifeless hands. I wasn’t ready to retire then and I’m not now, but it did make me wonder. In a world where anyone can make a tutorial, put it on social media, and poof! they’re the new educators of my industry, how does someone my age stay relevant? I hate to say it but Instagram, the platform that can make the average newcomer or the greatest stylist into a household name, is where I get and give most of my inspiration these days. I also watch a lot of TV to see what the likes of Kim Kardashian is promoting. I watch all the awards shows and take note of celebrity styles. I even pick up bridal magazines just to see the latest trends in wedding hairstyles. I don’t work for a manufacturer anymore, but I follow my hairstyle friends that I’ve met over the years to stay updated on what they’re doing. So maybe the landscape for keeping up on trends has changed a bit, but I’m rolling with the punches. They say that youth inspires the older folks and talent sees you though the transition times. I’ve got 40 years under my belt, and I think that will always take care of my relevance. That, and the fact that I’m constantly learning, growing, and adapting with the times. My cousin told me once that no matter how old you get, you’re always going to be you. This is me turning 60, loving my job, and working harder, smarter, and faster than ever. And I’m not planning on slowing down anytime soon!