With an infectious smile and spirited presence, longtime Elkford resident, Faye Sigurdson, is celebrating 50 years of hairdressing this year.
“I haven’t worked a day in my life,” she said sitting down in her at-home salon, Hair Eloquence, where she’s been snipping split ends for the past 41 years.
Scattered around her are assorted hair products – spray bottles, curling irons, combs and trimming scissors, illuminated by rows of vanity lights.
A mosaic of memorabilia hangs on the walls; framed certificates, magazine clippings of updos, and photos of her children and grandchildren cover every inch of the salon.
“From the time I was three – I didn’t speak English until I was about seven – I told my mother I was going to be a hárgreiðslukona, which is a hairdresser in Icelandic,” said Sigurdson boisterously.
Originally from Manitoba, Sigurdson went to hairdressing school in Winnipeg at the age of 18. Following a short stint in Williams Lake, Sigurdson and her husband moved to Elkford in 1980, calling it home ever since.
Raising her children under the shadow of Grizzly Peak, Sigurdson revels in the way her at-home salon allowed her to balance being a mom alongside her passion for hairdressing.
“It didn’t take me an hour to figure out that I wanted to establish an at-home shop, because my children were three and 18 months when we got here, and I really didn’t want somebody else raising my kids,” said Sigurdson.
“It’s been really fulfilling having this little shop here, because if it’s idle, I’m caught up with my laundry, or I’ll bake. There’s always something to do when you’re running a home.”
According to Sigurdson, Hair Eloquence has been at the same location and under the same ownership for over four decades, outstanding nearly all other District businesses and institutions, who have either changed their names or moved.
“There are young people that figure because you cut hair for 50 years then you’re really not with it – well I’m here to tell you that I have seen hairstyles come and go and come back again,” said Sigurdson with palpable zest.
But despite the changing times, Hair Eloquence has always been about much more than just cutting hair; it has become a gateway into people’s lives, a threshold into the heart of Elkford.
“It’s a good thing my walls don’t talk,” she said, holding up a framed poem, written for her by a late client.
“I’ve had many come into the door and say I need a Faye fix, and they don’t just mean a haircut. They want to talk, they need to dump – and I talk a mile a bloody minute, but I can also listen.”
Exuding a warm amicability, it’s no surprise her customers, many of which are now friends, find comfort in her presence.
Sigurdson’s desire to connect doesn’t stop in her salon – an honourary member of the Chamber of Commerce, she also sits on the Community Futures board, volunteers for Funeral Food, and even runs a 50/50 raffle for her clients, with all proceeds going back to the community.
“I love being a community minded person, it’s how I was raised. The farm community lifestyle and philosophy never leaves you.”
Though originally Sigurdson and her husband were only going to stay in Elkford for five years, her love for a tight-knit community is one of the many reasons she remained all this time.
“The farm (I grew up on) was home and Williams Lake was a wonderful place at the time, but Elkford is in my heart,” said Sigurdson.
“Nothing feels better than if I’ve been away, turning North onto highway 43. I can see these peaks from that turn off, and I’m home.”
Hoping to move into a seniors’ facility in the upcoming years, Sigurdson looks forward to remaining in Elkford and continuing to cut hair as “long as my fingers work and my eyes see and my legs hold me vertically.”