Joan Crawford said, "I think the most important thing a woman can have, next to talent of course, is her hairdresser." Finding a good one is another story.
Then there is Shannan Orr who ran her own salon in Nanaimo for several years and is a master stylist and colour artist. She regularly attends hair shows and educational classes, and is on top of what is innovative in the industry. Her specialties are creative precision cuts and colours. She has been in the hair business since 1986 and graduated at the top of her class at Vancouver Island University. (One of the best hairdressing schools in BC.) She has had extensive training with BC hair icons Peter Waters and Jack Noesgaard.
Now all that information is fine and good; however, what most people want is to hear from someone who has used her services. Just because you have a whack of courses and experience behind you, doesn't mean you are good; however, in this case, it is true.
My first visit with Shannan was a bit of a shock to the system. This woman pulls no punches and is a perfectionist. If you don't want your hair looking 100% fabulous and if you must be treated with kid gloves, don't go to her. She isn't the type of hairdresser that will bow to your every whim and desire. She'll tell you, straight up what colours and styles will suit you. And she's right.
I went in with what I thought was, in my humble estimation, a good colour for my once dark and now turning silver roots. Apparently, I was wrong. I was close though and Shannan went to work educating me on highlights and lowlights and base colour. Every now and then I'd hear an "Oh my" or a "tsk tsk" as she worked the back of my head. "I can tell you colour your own hair," she said straight up. "There are patches back here of grey and brown." (I've become a dark blonde with blonde highlights so grey and brown are not a good thing, especially in patches!)
I had been chastised and rightfully so. When my education, colour, highlights, and cut were complete, I looked and felt so much better. So much so, I recommended her to a friend of mine. About five minutes after my friend finished up with her appointment, I got a text. "OMG! I love Shannan, she is great!" accompanied by a photo of my friend's new look. Yep, Shannan had done it again.
"She wouldn't let me out of the chair until it was perfect," my friend laughed when we spoke the next day. "I told her it was good enough for me and she said I couldn't leave until it was good enough for her." That's Shannan in a nutshell. She is someone who cares for your hair, as much as, or more, than you do.
Shannan Orr comes by her passion honestly as she is an artist. Before relocating to Kelowna, she was a popular banner artist with the Nanaimo Art Gallery for 17 years. "I understand the laws and nature of colour," she said. "I look at hair as my canvass and use color to emphasize shape, shadow, texture and depth."
Her Nanaimo studio, ORRiginal, wasn't just for hair. It was also a studio that showed and sold her various works of art. She created wind chimes from funky driftwood and oyster shells, hand picked from the local beaches, and some made from sterling silver cutlery and funky driftwood. She used beads, wood, shells, metal and rocks to create bracelets. Then there were her art cards that featured quirky, artsy photographs ranging from beaches, waves, and driftwood to cows, rocks, and dandelions growing in cracked cement.
Since we first met, I've been back to see Shannan a few times, mostly to avoid "patch syndrome" at the back of my head. The last time she told me she was making my base even darker (darker blonde but still darker). I was aghast! "Trust me," she said as she wandered into the back room to create the potion that would make my roots just a touch darker. I was not amused. "But I want to be a blonde!" my inner temper-tantrum child screeched quietly inside my head. But I said not a word, (okay maybe I said a few) but hey, trust is trust.
Shannan proceeded to colour, rinse, wash, dry, cut, straighten, and cut some more until every single hair was in exactly the right place at exactly the right length with exactly the right colour. And I was still a blonde, dark blonde mind you, but the other colours had faded and now it looked as if I had even more highlights without adding new ones. Did I mention she was good?
JULY 2013: SHANNON HAS LEFT KELOWNA AND IS NOW BACK IN NANAIMO. HER CLIENTS ARE VERY HAPPY SHE'S RETURNED.