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Roxanne's Red Light

Saturday, June 10, 2017

They say a woman who is about to cut her hair is about to change her life, a statement to which Roxanne Shields-Barnes can attest. “I think getting your hair done is empowering for a woman,” she tells Under The Dryer (UTD).

Shields-Barnett, who started her career cutting her friends' bangs in the bathroom at school, opened her first salon in Kingston in 2008. Now at her more spacious second location — where there's also, thankfully, lots more parking space — her loyal clients have followed suit. As Amber Stewart put it: “I'd follow her anywhere. When my kids come home from school it's the first thing they want to know: have you booked the appointments at Roxanne yet?” Line up, ladies and gents!

“When I was starting out, being a hairdresser wasn't really a career you were 'supposed' to do”, Shields-Barnes notes. But her passion ran so deeply she had to follow it. “I tried to go into the family business but that wasn't fulfilling to me.”

She studied psychology for her first degree in Canada as was expected, which she says has come in handy every day. “God knows what he's doing when he steers you in certain directions, I studied pyscology at school. You name it I've heard it, but what's said here stays here.” Hair salons have traditionally been a safe space for women, something that is certainly found at Roxanne's.

“I come all the way from Mandeville to see Roxanne,” says Faye Bell, who also says that “sometimes it's as if Mandeville has come to town such is the extent of her out-of-town patronage. Her clientele is everybody from the uptown housewife to the young professional; she gets everybody there.” Client Aida Davis notes, “I started coming here because Roxanne was my friend, but it's the quality of the cuts that keeps me coming back.”

“It's all about the service,” adds Siska Hugh, manager of Cashpot. Indeed, the salon offers everything from blow-drys to hair botox, which is a smoothing treatment that is less harsh than keratin and recommended for those with finer hair.

“I'm delighted to be here,” Shield Barnes says. “Opening up my first salon on East King's House Road? Now that was scary.” The first-time business owner opened up about her trepidation. “It came with all the usual self-doubts. I'm from Mandeville so that would make it even more difficult to break into the Kingston market.” She knew the salon was a sound investment when her appointments started to be booked out. “ I was forced to start making appointments a week in advance. That's when I knew I was on to a good thing,” she recalls.

So what's trending for summer?

“I'm seeing a big move towards lighter colours for both men and women. Highlights, coppers, lighter browns and blondes, to have a beachier, more relaxed vibe.”

Her dream customer is one who comes in and tells her she can do as she pleases. “A photographer came in last week and we did unicorn hair, which is a mixture of pastel colours. I thought it fit her personality and expressed her artistic side.” Traditionally, clients will stick to more conservative styles, which Shields-Barnes believes is reflective of the more conservative part of Jamaican society that makes up her clientele.

She is very selective about the products she uses at her salons. “I don't do pharmacy products; it's only commercial here.” For curly hair she recommends anything from the Redken line. For finer hair she recommends Big Sexy Hair and she's a big fan of Argan Oil for those who need some moisture. “A proper shampoo-and-condition is a crucial base for good hair health and good styling,” she notes.

 

Roxanne's

75 Hope Road

Kingston 6

Tel: 978-3364