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  • Writer's pictureEllie

The Jewel of Evanston

We received an email the other day, telling us that one of our clients had written an essay on Steven Papageorge Hair Salon for her school assignment, and we think that all of you should have the opportunity to read it! We absolutely LOVE it!

Here it is:

The Jewel of Evanston

To the people of the Chicagoland area, the city of Evanston, Illinois is represents the perfect medium between the hustle and bustle of Chicago and the quiet, quaint residences in the suburbs. Apart from it’s rich, historic landscape, Evanston offers a beautiful downtown area filled with restaurants, clothing shops, and grocery stores. However, Evanston would not be as lively without Steven Papageorge Hair Salon located right in the heart of downtown. Owned by Steven, and his wife Analee, Papageorge, the place is a fun, relaxing getaway for all who schedule an appointment. This jewel of Evanston may not be what brings people down, but it is what makes them keep coming back.

As the customer drives up the main street in downtown Evanston, Steven Papageorge cannot help but catch their eye. With its huge windows welcoming each and every passerby into the salon, it would be hard not to walk in. As they do, they are confronted with a whirlwind of different shampoos and conditioners. Also, the sound of the latest pop jams are booming throughout the salon. They are greeted by Ellie Papageorge, daughter and receptionist. She is a petite, young college graduate who always has a huge smile on her face, waiting to greet the next customer. They are then asked to take a seat in the waiting room, a small alcove in the front, center of the salon. With two chairs on each of the three walls enclosing the waiting room, the customer is surrounded by the latest artwork and magazines. While they wait, Ellie will ask if they would like something to drink. The next second, apple cider is sitting in their hand. The warmth from the outside of the cup makes the entire salon feel like home, as the scent of apple and cinnamon swirl through the air. Before it has cooled enough for them to taste it, their hairstylist, Ming comes over to greet them. She is a small, Asian woman who always wears the highest end clothing available. Her fashion sense is fantastic and very avant garde. She will take them back to the salon chair, placing a black robe around their outfit so they do not get covered in fine hairs or hair products. As they look around, they admire how immaculate the salon is. From absolutely no water spots in the wash bowls, to the little-to-no sign of hair on the floor, this salon is about as sterile as a operating room. Ming catches their attention with a smile and the question, “So, what are you looking to get done?” After that, she will lay out all of the options: just a cut, just a color, or a cut and color, or just a styling session. Once a cut and color has been chosen, Ming sets off on her personal race toward perfection.

She brings over a bowl full of white powder and swishes her brush around to thicken it to a paste. Then, she sections off the hair to ensure the most amount of coverage of the hair as the dye goes on. She brushes the white powder into the hair in a triangular pattern. Once done with a section, she will place a stand of cotton at the base of the hairline and tuck a sheet of plastic wrap between this section of hair and the next. After the customer has been colored, the color will sit in the hair for 20 minutes. During this time, the windows open them up to the world around them. College students walking down the sidewalk to the Northwestern Merch store, older men walking their poodles or german shepherds down the street, or the homeless man that sits at the entrance of the CVS right down the street. However, what really catches one's eye, are the fascinating conversations that are held inside the salon. For example, a beautiful blonde model coming in to get her hair done for her wedding. Or the man who is shaving his head because just signed the divorce papers. People have all sorts of stories and the hustle and bustle of the salon does not intrude on listening in to the gossip.

Once they have sat for 20 minutes, Ming will arrive to bring the customer to the wash station. This is the best part. As they sit back with their hair in a dark black bowl, Ming will gently massage their scalp to ensure all of the roots are clean and fresh, while also removing the hair dye. She will then massage their temples and forehead, trying to get the color off of the skin surrounding the face with a cold, wet paper towel. One could possibly drift off to sleep while sitting in such a relaxed state. The shampoo creates a splendid aroma of flowers and fruits. The warmth of the water covers their head as they let out a sigh of relief.

After Ming has finished washing the color out of the customers hair, it has come time for the cut. Ming will bring them back to a new chair as they stare at themselves in the brightly lit mirror dead in front of them. They will see their wet, tangled hair like a mop on their head. Ming will then take the hair brush and stroke your hair, gently combing out all of the knots. She then takes scissors in her right hand and a section of hair in her left. She precisely runs their hair through her two fingers, coming to an end just before the bottom where she snips off just a tad. She will repeat this motion many times, to ensure the haircut is perfect. As she does this, the customer feels a slight pull on their head, however it is nothing too painful. While this occurs, one can easily hear the stylist and client conversations of others. Over the loud pop music, a man can be heard talking to his client about a new product that stimulates hair growth. The client, reaching at his balding head, seems upset. However, eventually buys the product in hopes it will help. Another stylist can be seen wandering around the salon. He has grey. spiky hair, seems a bit overweight, tall, older, and very very quiet. He hardly speaks to anyone. He walks with his head held high and a bit of an attitude. However, the gaze is broken when Ming turns on the blow dryer. Suddenly, the client is in a tunnel, surrounded by their hair swirling about in a crazed, unorganized motion. Also, the sound of air whirling around is so loud, the music is only faint background noise. She then will grab a round brush and begin wrapping the hair around the brush and holding it against the mouth of the dryer, while brushing the hair downwards. This ensures a bit of a bounce to the hair.

After the appointment is all complete, Ming turns off the blow dryer, replacing the loud roar of the dryer, with the blasting beat of the music. After doing a ‘once over’, Ming will remove the black, satin robe from them. Then, proceeding to the counter, Ellie asks for a set payment and  schedules the next appointment for four to six weeks from the current date. Ming shoots a look of pride as she admires her masterpiece. The feeling of joy and confidence fills the room. Others look to see the outcome, smiles broaden onto their faces. As the client walks out, complimentary Kit Kat in hand, they know they were taken care of in the best way possible. Because although Evanston may not be known for its hair salon businesses, no one will disagree with the fact that the service and experience they receive at Steven Papageorge Hair Salon is the best out there.

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