By Gina McGalliardMany people consider their beauticians to be personal friends and confidants, so many La Jollans will be saddened by the departure of Roberta Bradbury, who has been a hairdresser for more than four decades.
Bradbury will officially retire on Jan. 1, 2008, after 44 years in the busines. Although she currently works at Stacyz Salon, she owned Eclipse Salon for 15 years on Pearl Street. and another Eclipse salon prior to that for seven years in La Jolla Shores.
Because she has been working for so long, she has clients who have been with her for many years, her oldest client being a 40-year veteran. Former employee and longtime friend Craig Morgan noted that she also has clients from the same family who go to her, which is remarkable because, “No one wants to go to their mother’s hairdresser,” Morgan said.
Morgan, who said that he considered Bradbury a sister, said, “Some people joke that I lasted longer than her husband.”
Bradbury initially became interested in being a hairdresser after her older sister became one. “My desire was to be in medicine, but I didn’t have the stomach for it.”
For Bradbury, the most rewarding part of her profession is the relationships she is able to build with clients who come to her. “I think it’s the people,” she said. “Being a people person, I’ve always said it’s my job to make America beautiful.”
And since people often consider their hairdressers to be de facto psychologists, she will be sorely missed by many. “Someone sent me a card that said, ‘who am I going to tell my secrets to?’ ” Bradbury said. But, she added jokingly, “I just don’t get paid like the therapists do.”
According to Morgan, Bradbury’s therapeutic abilitites are part of what kept people coming back to her all these years. “I think it’s her deep caring for the people she provides a service to,” he said. “She goes beyond service and becomes a family member.”
“I think what Roberta brings to relationships is that she’s in it 100 percent. It’s not conditional,” he said. He also said that he has learned a lot as a person from watching Bradbury. “I have become a much stronger person by (watching) how she handles things,” he said. “I used to be a real hothead and now I’ve learned to become much more patient.”
Morgan also said that Bradbury is one of the best hairdressers around. “She’s an excellent hairdresser, one of the best I’ve ever worked with,” he said. He also said she’s not afraid to try something new and has always taken classes in order to keep up with current trends in the industry.
Having done both, Bradbury said there are pros and cons both to owning your own business and being an independant contractor. Since not owning her own salon, she said, “Simply not having the responsiblity has been refreshing. When you are an independent contractor, you can shut the door and say ‘c’est la vie.’ ” But in owning her own salon, she said, “There’s a certain pride in owning your own business.”
The current salon she works at, Stacyz Salon, is “smaller, a bit more intimate.” she said. “It’s a great stepping stone for my retirement.” Of her collegues, she said, “It’s been a good group of people working here, and great clients. The girls here all have years in the business.”
Despite enjoying her profession, Bradbury said she is looking foward to retirement. It will be an opportunity to do “all the things I’ve put on the back burner for years,” such as painting, drawing, going to lunch, shopping and getting her nails done. “I have a husband who has been waiting very patiently,” she said.
Morgan agreed, saying, “It’s now her time to focus on her husband and life.” He also noted that the start of a new year was a good way to end her career because it would be a fresh start and it would follow the holiday season.
“I think it’s a good way to end because it’s on a high note,” he said.
To inform clients of her impending retirement, she sent out a card that read, “It’s my time to hang up the shears. I will be retiring Jan. 1, 2008. No tears, just cheers. My heartfelt thanks throughout the years.”
“All these years I’ve kept my nose to the grindstone, pulled my hair out, and worked my buns off,” she said. “And now I’m going to take the few body parts I have left and enjoy life.”