27 Feb Mission towards INTERSECTIONAL inclusion
February 27, 2021
Zandi K’s mission towards intersectional inclusivity:
When I began working at Zandi K salon in 2015 it was about as socially conscious as you would expect any hip, young, Aveda Salon in Denver to be at the time. I was thrilled to be working in a woman owned, environmentally focused, upscale salon, and I felt at home among a largely queer staff, tattoos, piercings, and daring hairstyles abundant.
I was personally impressed (and still am) with how easefully our Spanish-speaking staff and stylists communicated with clients who, not all being native English speakers, may have otherwise felt stress at the prospect of getting their hair done at a largely English speaking salon. And I witnessed first hand the amount of referrals we receive from Muslim women in hijab, because we so readily accommodated their desires for privacy with a separated/upstairs room (for those of you who don’t know, yes even women in hijab ask for pink hair sometimes!
Through the years, as our staff, and salon identity evolved it became apparent that certain clients were being overlooked. As I grew my clientele, certain challenges around gender identity and booking began to come up. Why was it that my beautiful, non-binary, long haired client was receiving reminders for their “Men’s Cut” or another transgender client was met with confusion from the front desk when she tried to book a women’s haircut over the phone? Why did our haircuts include unnecessary gender identifiers in their descriptions at all?!
Within a year of my bringing the issue to my bosses’ attention, we were not only done with gendered haircuts, but we were flying a trans flag outside of the salon, and were the first salon in Denver to march in, and sponsor the Denver Gay Pride Parade in 2019.
Over two years ago another, overlooked issue came to the attention of our owners and management team, and that issue was our ability to serve some black women, based on the texture of their hair. Over the years that I have worked there, ZK has only had a small handful of black women work at our salon, and in all honesty, there has only ever been, 2 or 3 stylists at a time, including owner, Faye Zandi, who felt fully knowledgeable and competent when it came to very textured hair (3C – 4C if you want to get technical). This became painfully obvious, when booking clients with very coily hair, because they were difficult to fit on the schedule any given day!
In an attempt to remedy this issue, in addition to mandatory diversity training for all staff, now every stylist is required to educate themselves in a way that they can serve EVERY guest who wishes to book an appointment. This means, taking classes designed to broaden our knowledge and experience with very curly or coily hair, and most importantly a deadline for each stylist to be certifiably proficient in cutting, styling, a coloring ALL hair types if they wish to remain employed by Zandi K.
I am so proud to be part of the Zandi K family where we aren’t “open minded” or “inclusive,” but actively strive to identify our flaws. Zandi K can now proudly say that we are a pro-black, pro-trans, pro-Igbq, pro-women company, and ready to serve everyone in our community, because as once said by Aveda founder and activist Horst Rechelbacher- “If service is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you.”
Written by Master stylist: Amber Hamilton