Still styling after all these years

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Hairstylist Sandy Soper is still doing the job she loves after giving her first cut 40 years ago.

“My first haircut took me about two hours,” she said.

“It was on my brother-in-law. When we were practising, he was my first client. He still reminds me of that today.”

Since then she has learnt a lot, not just about the hair industry but about people, too.

“You’re a counsellor and you’re a hairdresser.

“Sometimes you can tell they’re a bit low, so you’re just an ear to listen to and try and get them in a better space before they leave.

“There’s been many laughs and many cries. Lots of fun times.”

Her clients and colleagues were the reason she had stayed cutting hair for so long, she said.

“Lots of clients, they become your family. They just make you happy and brighten up your day.

“I have worked alongside the most amazing, fun-loving, crazy bunch of stylists who have been there for me in times of need and, like family, always have your back.”

“I love the job and I love the people. I’m a people person. I love creating funky styles for people.

“When you love something, you just stick with it until your body says otherwise.

“As long as my health stays great, I will keep working.”

Even when she was in school, she knew she wanted to be a hairstylist.

“Just before I left school I applied for an apprenticeship at Rosalia on Irk St and got the job. I was there for 18 years.”

She learnt a valuable lesson there when a client’s haircut by a fellow stylist went “not so well”.

“She forgot to put the attachment on the clipper, so after that day, I’ve always double-checked.”

She has worked in other salons since then but always in the Eastern Southland area, where she grew up.

“Gore, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Great wee town.

“Everybody’s so friendly. You can walk down the street and somebody will say hi.

“It’s a special place to share the best 40 years being a hairstylist.”