The candidate was poised, professional, skilled, pleasant, and eager to work: the perfect employee. Looking back, Laura Graven is quick to admit that she and co-owner Ashley Puglisi should have hired Brady on the spot to join their team at Tailored Salon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Instead, they took just a minute to discuss whether their politically diverse clientele would welcome a transgender hairdresser.
“At the time, Brady was in the beginning of her journey,” Graven says. “We thought about our guests—who might feel uncomfortable with this hire?”
Staying True to the Culture
Tailored Salon had a policy and culture of inclusivity, with stylists from the LBGTQ+ community on staff and a service menu of genderless haircuts and color. They asked Brady to do some shadowing; she aced it, going above and beyond all requirements. And then it got personal.
“Brady let herself be vulnerable enough to share her life experiences with us,” Graven recalls. “She told us that our salon was the first salon that made her feel safe. That broke our heart and makes me emotional even today. It showed us that she belongs here. No one should feel unsafe in a work environment.”
Graven and Puglisi immediately knew they’d made the right decision. They saw that, really, there was no other way to go.
“We couldn’t say we were an inclusive salon, that we built a culture of inclusivity, and not hire Brady,” Graven explains. “We had to decide whether we were going to walk the walk. And it has been the best decision we could have made for our team. She has helped us become an even more inclusive company.”
Trans Experience Menu
Brady told the owners that her struggle with learning how to do makeup had her on a continuous stream of YouTube instruction videos for a long time. She wanted to save the next person all of that time and research. So to make sure every guest would feel as safe as she did in her new space, Brady offered to develop a Trans Experience Menu of makeup and wig services. The owners loved the idea, and the menu launched in spring 2021, just before Pride Month in June.
“Brady helps trans women apply makeup to create contouring and the illusion of more feminine features,” Graven says. “On the menu, she calls it the ‘Facial Feminization Package.’ In addition to the application, Brady uses this as a teaching time. Spending time with someone who’s been terrified to wear makeup—helping the person have a safe conversation with a technician who has been through the same process—is comforting and empowering.”
While these services are booked only infrequently, Graven says the menu makes a statement of inclusivity that many clients have expressly supported. Far from causing uncomfortable conversations, the addition of Brady has strengthened the relationship the salon has with its clientele.
“Without Brady, we wouldn’t have created this menu, because we didn’t know there was a need for it,” Graven says. “A hair salon menu is just one tiny thing we can do to let people know they’re not alone. We have to care for each guest in a high-quality way but also in the way that the guest wants to be cared for.”
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.