January 2013

Pat Blake of Salon Salon

Author: Debbie Szpanka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai

As a Catholic school girl in the 1960s, Pat Blake said she thought her Shirley Temple hair made her different. She didn’t fit in with her classmates. In her mind, everyone had long, straight hair like Cher. Hers was different; it was curly. On rainy days, it was really curly.

Her beloved, yet strict dad wouldn’t let this Philly girl date until she was 16, so she had plenty of time to invent ways to straighten her hair. “I used to wrap my wet hair around my head, pin it, and then tape my bangs to my forehead so it would dry straight,” Blake said. “After all that effort, I would step out into the humidity, and in minutes, feel my hair curl up inch by inch as I waited for the bus.”

While her curls made her cringe, they also conditioned her to create ways to do her hair, and a career was born. Call it divine intervention or her personal campaign to feel “normal,” Pat Blake found a way. Thirty-eight years later, she is still finding ways for her clients to believe in their own hair.

Blake is now known as the queen of short, funky haircuts. One of her clients, Rebecca Morris of Moss Creek, doesn’t get much peace when she is in public. Nearly everywhere she goes, people ask her who does her hair. One day, she was kneeling down in the grocery story, reaching her hand in a shelf to grab an item, and a woman patted her on her back and almost scared the can out of her hand.

“My husband jokes with me all the time, saying, ‘Watch out—here comes another one,’” Morris said. “It’s like he can feel when someone is looking at my hair and making her way to approach me.”

Morris, who has “poker-straight” hair, now wears a short, funky hairstyle with spikes of hair going every which way on top. The craziest request she received was after she appeared as a wedding planner on a national show called, Platinum Weddings.
“One person hunted me down through my website and said ‘I really don’t care about weddings however, I have to know who does your hair.’”

There’s a spiritual lesson in that stylist-client relationship: the woman who hated her curly hair has done wonders for a client with straight hair. The Good Lord does work in mysterious ways.

Blake, who operates as an independent hairdresser at Salon Salon, has been styling people’s hair for decades on Hilton Head Island. She moved here from the Northeast to be close to her dad, Bud Hardy; and that feisty-rebel spirit of a former plaid-wearing Catholic school girl is still a part of her.

“It seems like I was always taking a different path,” Blake said. “I was a tomboy all my life. I loved sports, so I needed a hairstyle which softened my curls as well as looked okay as I played tennis, basketball, and volleyball. However, I ended up quitting my coaching job to follow my dream of doing hair. It’s funny how your hair literally shapes and styles your life.”

After she had two children, Blake quit her day job and went to beauty school. A month and a half before graduation, she was severely injured in a car accident. Despite nine collapsed ribs, a broken collar bone, collapsed lung and numbness on her right side, it was her right arm that caused her the most emotional pain, because that was a crucial instrument in styling hair. She dropped out of school and made rehab her mission. “Nothing was stopping me from doing hair,” Blake said.

After she recovered and graduated, Blake got her first styling job in a mall, which was “a depressing start” to her dream. “One day my husband at that time said to me, ‘you are good at what you do; just give it time.’ It was almost like he gave me the inspiration just when I needed it, and I have been styling hair ever since.”

Blake doesn’t know if the patron saint of hair was looking over her shoulder when she went out on her own; however, the path of leaving the mall job led her to the heavenly reward of running her fingers through Robert De Niro’s hair.

One day she saw a truck pulling a trailer with two motorcycles squeeze into a parking space outside her Main Street shop in Saratoga Spring, NY. A guy dressed like “Joe Normal” hops out and comes into her shop. While shampooing his hair, Blake asks him how he wants his hair cut. He replies, “So, I look like Robert De Niro when I am done.”

The next day, the newspaper reported De Niro was in town en route to a motorcycle show.

“I charged him 10 bucks for the cut—he gave me a 20,” Blake said. “I don’t usually get a hundred percent tip or the opportunity to style a celebrity. I am just happy my heart didn’t pound out of my chest when I was cutting his hair.”

Regardless if you are a celebrity or if you feel like one after Blake does your hair, you can have complete confidence in Blake’s styling skills. You figure she has honed them since her Catholic school days, and there must of have been a bit of divine guidance to lead her to your hair.

Call 843.681.7091 to make an appointment with Pat Blake of Salon Salon.

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