SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 76: Hair, Healing and Helping Small Business

“We’ve known each other for 28 – 29 years.” Says Ashley, owner of  Ashley’s Sizzorz Palace of her friend Sharon. Both women who first hand know the meaning of self-reliance and positive forward thinking.

There is no quick path to telling their stories. Two hours I spend visiting with them, even meet Ashley’s husband, Victor (not pictured). We talk of everything from the spiritual to the economy. Issues like unemployment, the battle between corporate mega giants and small business and the personal trials of life and parenting.

These two special ladies are intertwined by one common thread as quoted by Sharon, “Don’t look at the hard times as struggle, but as part of the journey. You’ll be better able to enjoy time.”

It would be unethical for me to fully expose the depths that are shared with me in regards to the history of these two spectacular women. Plus, it would take a novel like entry to fully give their stories the justice they deserve, but trust me, both Ashley and Sharon have earned the ranks to make Sharon’s above claim.

What I can share is what I witness during my visit, as well as a few of their philosophies.

Now, I can’t say that I am an expert on salon culture. I have been to a few in my time, everything from swanky Beverly Hills establishments to the most understated of Barber Shops. Yet there is a sweetness to Ashley’s place that I have not experienced, that is, until now. The only way to explain it, “It’s like sitting in a humble living room with friends.”

It is obvious that Ashley and Sharon have a wonderful relationship. However, my witness doesn’t stop with them. Other customers stream in, I presume preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. Each one of them are well-known to Ashley, and t like them, I am becoming part of a family. Customers are in Ashley’s chair while I, sitting a the very simple reception area, converse with other salon friends who are waiting for their turn to be spoiled. “I’ve been coming here for 8 years now and will never go anywhere else.”  One customer tells me. I’m off base even calling her a customer, best to call her a friend.

Victor tells me of customers that continually come to Ashley from as far as Maine, Palm Springs and Oceanside. And after being part of the family for a short time, I see why.

I also find out Ashley is more than a stylist, she is an artist and a healer. Ashley is very humble, but does talk of her artwork, which is hanging on the walls all over the salon. “I did not study formally, I taught myself from looking at other paintings.” Some people just have gifts, and Ashley’s is the ability to see the good in all thing’s and find a way to communicate it, I see it in her art and her words.

But as to her ability to heal, that’s a different story. This fact comes to me in a more vicarious way; through the words of the people she has helped.

Sharon tells me of one example, a near crippling car accident she had, one that even though no bones were broken, great muscular and ligament damage resulted. Doctors told her she needed surgery and would most likely forever walk with a limp. Procedures and an outcome that ultimately she declined, saying “I didn’t need the surgeries, Ashley healed me and I credit her with the movement I now have.” She stands up and show me her stride, no limp, perfect.

I not proposing that Ashley is metaphysical, quite the opposite. What she prescribes is rather simple, positive mind-set, a dose of good old common sense and a bit of stretching mixed with massage.

Sharon goes on, “She has hands of steel and knows how to encourage me. I love her for that. She healed me” Other ladies tell me of Migraines no more, giving homage to Ashley’s scalp massage. Now how many hair stylists offer healing? Ashley is magical.

I probe a little and discover one current trial. After 20 years of corporate employment, Victor was laid off fifteen months ago. I’m troubled by this story. You see, Victor is a very intelligent man with a powerful work ethic. “I want to work. I apply for employment every week, even do volunteer work. No one is hiring.” His story hits me in my achilles heel of my opinion of corporate cut backs. I’ve heard many stories similar to this, even having my own similar experiences, and have begun a personal crusade. That crusade, “Frequent small and self-owned business as often as possible.”

Business’ like Ashley’s (now the sole bread-winner for the family), the mom and pop hardware shop, self-owned restaurants, garden supply, auto repair, tradesmen, there a too many small business’ to list. Find them and frequent them. Help them grow and perhaps, they in turn can provide employment opportunity, or at least be able to support themselves and their families. Thanks for allowing me to be a touch political for a minute. Being a small business myself, Ashley and Victor’s story hits home.

But what about Sharon? The quick answer; fashionista, stylist, and lady of many words. Her quotes are endless.

“Don’t be overwhelmed by big things. Take baby steps. If you are ten feet underground and want to go to the top of Mount Everest. Remember to take baby steps. Maybe you’ll only get half way there and be satisfied in how far you have come.”

“Little miracles happen every day. Take the time to notice them”

“We’ve heard this one all the time. When one door closes, another one opens. Just believe, and even with a lot of dead bolts, that door can be opened and fly you to the moon”

Ashley give’s us a few more gems:

“In life you should not let the words of others bother you, otherwise you get stressed. And that makes you old.”

“Be careful not to give you kids too much. Allow them to learn to stand on their own two feet. Otherwise they will be handicapped”
(She has the right to make this statement with two sons to her credit. Both successful. One a pharmacist the other just finishing college)

Per the future:

Ashley: Life just gets better and better. All I can say is whatever it is, it is going to be good.”

Sharon: I want to be much more spiritual, much more centered, much more traveled, and above all, much more at peace.

Ladies thanks for letting me hang out with you!

I’m always happy to support America’s small business owners. Let’s do our part in helping each other.

So readers, If your hair is getting long and your head aches are killing  you. I’m telling you where to go. Ashley’s Sizzors Palace, 22141 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303, 818-703-9935. Tell her Richard sent you.

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