Beauty Tips & Tricks

The Beauty of Gretchen

The first Shak Gal that I met – or rather, that introduced herself to me – was Gretchen. Gretchen is a stylist, and she has been making our clients at Sizzor Shak gorgeous for over 10 years. So in the “hierarchy” of salon life, she ranks a couple of levels higher than a new girl like me. But, despite this, on my very first shift Gretchen made her way over to my desk and introduced herself.

Gretchen is a knockout. She has amazing hair – thick and curly, light brown with highlights. It probably weighs 8 pounds and she complains about it being heavy and hot; however, for ladies with fine, flyaway tresses (like me), Gretchen’s locks are the stuff that dreams are made of.

Gretchen is also the most photogenic person I have ever met. Her face looks amazing in every picture, even when she’s in the background taking a big bite into a hamburger. If I’m not fully prepped and posed in a picture, I end up looking like I’m about to sneeze while my mouth’s full of lemon juice.

But beyond her hair and her photos and her eyes – did I forget to mention her blue, blue eyes?

Anyhow, beyond all that, Gretchen has a heart that is truly welcoming and inclusive. It was so awkward to be the new girl at a new job, and yet Gretchen eased my entrance into this new job by reaching out to me immediately, making me her friend on Facebook, and making me her friend for life.

At work parties, she would direct me to a chair near her. In the break room, she asked me about my kids and we compared parenting trauma stories. At the desk, she was patient as I rang up her customers, even though I typed her name in wrong at least 50% of the time.

Often in life, it seems like people are very protective of what is theirs. Their place in line, the money they make, the friends they have … a lot of people have an attitude that seems to say, “I worked hard for these things, so don’t expect me to share any of it with you. You gotta scrape and climb to get to where I am, and don’t expect any help from me.” But Gretchen’s openhearted way of welcoming me made me feel like part of the group for the very first.
And this is where the True Beauty of Gretchen comes out. She has definite seniority over me, and yet she was willing to share herself and give me a hand up when I felt most insecure.

As I’ve grown in my own seniority, I have witnessed her doing this over again … with the next new girl, and the one after that. And because of her great example, I have found myself striving to make sure others feel important and valued, especially during a time when they may feel uncertain.

Gretchen’s inner beauty has taught me an easy way to give to others – simply by being kind. It is one of the easiest ways to give, and yet it is one of utmost importance.

True Beauty

Is it possible that God has called me to be a receptionist in a hair salon?

People of faith talk a lot about God “calling” them to a career. My husband is in ministry, and he felt this call on his life back when he was in college. To be honest, I have always felt a bit of envy toward him – it must be nice to be certain that you are in the right job. To know that what you do really matters. To be content as you move through each day, doing your work with satisfaction and joy.

Can such a vocation be found during a random job search on Craigslist?

Some people would say laugh at the lofty idea of being “called” to a part-time job; the initial idea was merely to make extra money for our family budget. But on a personal level, this job has become so much more to me.

So I can say, with complete confidence, “Yes”. God has called me to be a receptionist in a hair salon. Not because I am especially talented at answering phone and greeting clients. But because I have a lot to learn about appreciating true beauty.

Most people who know me would laugh at this – after all, I was the young child who would raid my aunt’s cosmetic bag and spend hours beautifying myself. My brother and cousins (all boys) would also get to benefit from my make-up application skills! And as I grew through my teen and young adult years, my love for the beauty industry also grew. I would spend hours in a salon or a cosmetic department – sampling lotions, reading labels, spritzing scents.

So when I started working the front desk of Sizzor Shak Salon & Color Spa, I was thrilled to be in the center of all the hairspray, blow dryers, and facial creams. I actually got paid to sample the products that I love!

But the surprise – and delight – that God had in store for me was far more than a fun job and a pay check. Being a part of this salon has made a tremendous impact on my life. The staff, the stylists, the clients, and the owners – each have touched my heart and have given me a better understanding of what True Beauty really is.

So I thank God for calling me to this place where I can learn and admire and grow to be like the beautiful women of Sizzor Shak Salon.

A Move & A Need

Let’s begin at the beginning.

My husband, Erik, was relocated with his job in the summer of 2007. We moved into our new home in August and sent our three boys off to their new school 10 days later. I spent the next couple months unpacking, trying to find my way around this new town, and hoping I would somehow be able to get settled.

You see, this was my first big move. I had always lived in near my family. At our old address, my parents were four miles away and Erik’s parents were seven miles away. My mom and I used the same grocery store, we went to the same Bible study group every week, and she helped me out with the kids a lot. Both Erik’s family and mine went to the same church – the church where we met, married, and dedicated each of our children. Even my extended family all lived within a 20 mile radius of us.

So moving to a different state was a bit overwhelming for this little mama’s girl.

On another note…

Have you ever noticed that most people are not automatically friendly to a new person? They may look at you — but then again they may not. They may smile and say “hello” to you if you are introduced to them — but then the next time you see them they will probably not remember you. And if you were to go so far as to introduce yourself, then they look at you like there is something wrong with you.

Maybe not always – but often enough to make a person feel very alone. And I felt very alone.

At this time, my full-time job was as a stay-at-home mom. But I had always held a part-time job in order to help out with the household expenses and to give me a reason to get out of the house. So as I began to look for work, I found myself extremely prayerful. I was putting a lot of hope into this job – at this point in my life I was banking on a lot more than a paycheck.

Spring Style

Finally … spring has sprung! It is time to pack up our sweaters and corduroys and break out our florals and stripes … both of which made a bold appearance on the runways during New York Fashion Week.

Other trends spotted on the runways:

Crisp whites – from soft tees to flowing skirts. Calvin Klein showcased tailored white pants suits in his collection. Wear white alone, or pair with this season’s bold colors and fantastic prints for a great spring look.

Nautical – pair those whites with naval stripes, bright primary colors, and you’ll be set for a high fashion day!

70’s style – flouncy and fluid clothes with a vintage feel. Also called pajama dressing, this look feels casual and luxurious at the same time.
Another nod to the seventies seen on the runways: belted wide-leg pants, high waists, and denim on denim ensembles.

Eclectic Chic – get the best use out of your fashion investment by embracing this look. Eclectic chic embodies flounces paired with structured jackets, mixing and matching prints and textures, and embracing a crepey silhouette.

Spring Is In Session

Spring is here!!! Two weeks ago it was snowing and sleeting … and today the sun is out, the temperature is warm, and the dogwoods are in bloom. I love the unpredictability of this season!

Of course, I might be one of the few that doesn’t mind an unexpected snowfall. Some have teased me about having a Pollyanna complex, but it’s true that you can find things to be glad about if you make up your mind to. Read more


Stylists are more than just hair care professionals. They are confidants, friends, counselors, & the list goes on. There are definitely things that you don’t have to share, but here are 5 things that you really should tell your stylist.

1. Have a bad breakup? He’s just not worth it! Never fix a bad break-up with a box of hair color! You’re upset. We understand … but please, see a pro. Box hair color only goes well with a box of wine and believe me; you will be regretting BOTH in the morning. Want a makeover? Wait a week after the big split and then talk to your stylist about what changes would look great for you.
Read more

Snow Day

I have been a St Louis girl all my life.  Born and bred in the Midwest, of strong German stock.  And I can attest to the truth in the saying, “If you don’t like the weather in St Louis, just wait five minutes.”  Our temperature patterns and weather conditions can do extreme fluctuations in a really short period of time.

So most of us know how to handle the sweltering hot, humid days of summer.  And we are able to gear up for the bitterly cold weather that turns your eyelashes to icicles.  But an odd thing about us St Louisans … a lot of us become wimps when it comes to snow.

Sorry to be blunt, but it’s just the truth.  You know who you are.

Today it is snowing.  And it is beautiful … the flakes are softly falling to the ground, the temperature is cold but refreshing, and there is not any wind to fight against.   It is actually a lovely January day. Read more

Cheers! Everyone Knows Your Name!

Remember the TV sitcom Cheers? The show takes place in a historical tavern in Boston. It is lauded as the place where you want to go, because everybody knows your name and they are always glad you came.

As corny as it sounds, this is how I feel about the place where I work. I came in late today, feeling really tired from all of the hullabaloo that this season demands. And the first person I see is Nicole, who gives me a big hug. We spend a minute admiring her brand new engagement ring (so happy – she’ll be the best wife ever)! Then I give and receive hugs from Linda (I’ve never had a boss who I like to hug so much!). I check in with Kaci at the desk – her first baby is due soon. I know from experience how precious it is to experience Christmas while expecting a child; there is a kinship to Mary and the baby Jesus that makes this season so special.

Speaking of babies, Lisa is a new aunt to a chubby little 2 day old named Mabel, and we ooh and ahh over the photos. Charlotte brings a new flatbread snack for everyone to try, and Scott passes out samples of gourmet coffee.

All of a sudden, I realize that an hour has passed and I am feeling great! How many people can say that going into work has made their day better? As I write this, I feel completely and utterly blessed.

I may not be in a historical tavern in Boston drinking a beer; however, a historical salon in Collinsville that serves up coffee and love is a perfect place for me.

I’m glad I don’t need to change my name to “Norm!” to keep my Cheers this season!

Mistaken Identity

The Weber family started Sizzor Shak Salon & Color Spa 35 years ago. I have been working at the Shak for over three years now, and the fun, family vibe is one of the reasons that this salon is such a amazing place to work.

My job as a receptionist plops me right between two of the Webers – Kaci at the desk and Linda at her station. Mama and Daughter Weber, respectively. Every morning we get coffee for each other and we try out new flavor mixes. Kaci tries out all the decaf options since she is expecting a baby girl in February. It’s a great way to start the workday, and I love these ladies dearly.

So, the other day I was at the bank with my salon attire on and the teller very sweetly asked how my daughter was doing. ??????? I have three children, all boys.

“I don’t have a daughter,” I responded.
“Isn’t Kaci your daughter?” she asked.

Okay, Linda is a gorgeous woman, so being compared to her is a great thing. However, I am only 9 years older than Kaci. So this was definitely NOT a complimentary question. I smiled pleasantly, told her she was mistaken, and when straight into the salon to schedule a facial.

Things got better this past weekend, when someone mistook me for Kaci. It’s always nice for people to think you are younger than you are.

Unfortunately, they asked me how my pregnancy was going.
(Not pregnant, by the way).


Looks like I’m going to need another cup of coffee to keep my smile in place today.

How To Strengthen Those Strands of Hair

Did you know that your hair is one of the strongest fibers on Planet Earth? One strand has the strength equivalent of copper wire of similar size. In fact, if your entire head of hair was made into a rope, it could lift 12 tons of weight!

Some hair has more strength than others, of course. Your diet, the environment, your stress level, and chemical processes all contribute to the health and resilience of your hair.

Vitamins do a lot for your hair; they promote healthy growth and prevent damage from the environment. Taking a multivitamin every day gives you the amounts you need to strengthen and rebuild your hair.

  • Vitamin C works against free radicals from the atmosphere
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and niacin all promote hair growth by nurturing the scalp
  • Vitamin B6 and B12 help to prevent hair loss
  • Biotin it is an essential water-soluble B vitamin, which increases the elasticity of the hair’s cortex, thus preventing breakage.
  • In addition to vitamin supplements, a healthy diet of fruits, green vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will assist you in your quest for strong, shiny locks.

    Your daily hair routine can also add strength to your hair. Unless you need to, try not to wash your hair every day. Excess washing will strip your hair of its natural oils, making it dry and brittle. In addition to washing less, it is imperative to condition more. Add conditioner to your hair every time you wet it, because the conditioner will lock in your hair’s moisture and keep the your hair’s cuticle soft and flexible. A deep keratin conditioner once or twice a week seals the deal, creating hair that is healthy, shiny, and strong.

    When you’re ready to style your tresses, prepare your hair with a protective styling product BEFORE you use your heated tools. Look for a product that contains silicone, which will protect your hair’s cuticle and give you a polished, smooth look. It is a good habit to clean your tools with alcohol regularly. The residue your product leaves on them can become seared into your hair and make it weak and brittle.

    Finally, keeping up with your regular trims is the best way to keep your hair strong. You may have strands that are two years old or older, depending on your hair’s length. By keeping those ends in check, the split ends that crop up will have less of a chance of weakening the entire strand structure.

    If you’ve been checking out other salons in Collinsville, salons in Edwardsville, or even salons in St. Louis, give Sizzor Shak Salon & Color Spa a try! We want you to love your strong, healthy hair!