We had the good fortune of connecting with Sami Sue and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sami, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
It took me a long time to figure out how to balance my work life and my personal life. I come from a background of very hard working women, and when I was growing up, it was ingrained in me to work for what I want in life. However, taking time for myself was never taught… Taking care of others and working hard was enough, and taking time for you was selfish. That was my great grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers generation. I lived in a small town in Iowa where went to school for Cosmetology and found my calling. I worked independently behind the chair 40+ hours a week and was on the board of a non-profit organization to help fund my artistic community focused Hair/Art/Runway Event, Rogue Collections. The show was a once a year event, with multiple mini showcases throughout the year to promote it. On top of that, I was an exclusive Hair and Makeup Artist for a local photographer and travelled 40 mins, one-way, to her studio multiple times a month for that. It wasn’t until about four years into my career, that I finally started to break. Not only was I enthralled in the show and building my career, but I was abusing drugs and alcohol… I was the poster child of High Functioning. This is when I really started travelling, more as an escape, than actual time for myself and balance in my life. I travelled with friends for parties and shows, fueling the fire of my addiction. In 2016 I survived an abusive relationship, and decided to leave Iowa, coming back to Arizona, where I grew up. The first six months was most of the same. Parties, shows, work. When the New Year came around, I decided to challenge myself like I never had. I would commit to a year of no alcohol. That year changed my life. I found my dream salon, I won national hair contests, fell in love and continued to travel… I found I could still go to parties and not drink. I started doing yoga consistently and began journaling. In 2018, my dream salon closed, and I had to find another job. I interviewed at 17 salons in one week. I was offered a job at every one. My hard work, and life balance was paying off. I’m currently almost 4 years sober. I’m the Manager at yet another dream salon at Bishops – Willo in Downtown Phoenix. I’ve never been more proud to work for a company that promotes inclusivity, creativity and a work/life balance. I feel supported, inspired and encouraged by my team, and I aspire to do the same for them. Sobriety has allowed me to self reflect and balance my life, time and energy positively. I still work, A LOT. But taking the necessary time to recover, and spend quality time with my partner, family and myself allows me to do my BEST work, inside and outside of the salon.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an artist, and hair is my canvas. However, I am equally an artist, as I am a businesswoman. Building a clientele in this industry isn’t easy. It takes consistency, motivation and talent. I’ve been living in AZ again for a little over 4 years, and I finally have a clientele base comparable to the one I left in Iowa. (That which took almost 5 years to curate as well.) I would say that I am the most proud of two things in my career at the moment: my clientele and being a shop manager. I am so fortunate to be able to work with such an eclectic group of talented people at my shop. It has been such an amazing learning and growing experience being their manager and helping the shop grow in the Phoenix community. I couldn’t be more proud of my team, and how far we’ve come since accepting my position a year and a half ago. My clientele is equally as eclectic. I have every type of hair, gender, and age that sits in my chair. From a 7 year old who gets a mohawk, to a mother of 3 with platinum hair, to a teacher with dreadlocks, to the gender-non-conforming person with a buzz cut and lime green hair. Thank you ALL! My job is never boring, that’s for sure! If I had to categorize my brand, it would be, Positive – Creative – Inclusive.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Obviously, the first thing I would suggest would be to get their hair done at Bishops! We’re in the heart of Phoenix, and centrally located to so many cool restaurants and shops! We have strict Covid guidelines and since reopening in May, we haven’t had a single case of the virus. Masks are required, we have a limited capacity and social distancing protocols in place for staff and client safety. Feel free to visit our website for the full breakdown at bishops.co 🙂 (Pre-Covid, these are my recommendations…) After getting an excellent service at the shop, I’d recommend getting a sweet treat at Pop’N’Tea, which is conveniently located right next door! (My favorite drink is the Horchata Milk Tea, with Boba, of course!) Then we could go to the Phoenix Art Museum, again, just down the street from us. After that, dinner at Moira, my favorite sushi spot in Downtown Phoenix. Hopefully we could plan the trip so they come at the beginning of the month, and hit up First Friday, the famous Downtown Phoenix art walk on Roosevelt Row. They have so many amazing local artists, musicians, and food trucks to choose from! I love dancing, and seeing live music. Some of my favorite nightlife spots are Valley Bar, Cobra Arcade, The Van Buren and Crescent Ballroom. I hope we can get back to seeing shows and going out without fear soon. Please, wear a mask and respect your fellow humans.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shout out my Momma Bird and Daddyo. They are a constant inspiration to me, and such a huge support in my life. My company, Bishops, for being an amazing organization to work for. Along with my shop team, Moe, Bret, Kallie, Kylee, Zander, Jaycee, Azyah and Blake, who makes coming to work fun and motivating. And of course, my best friend and love of my life Richard, my everyday champion.
Photo of myself taken by Richard Lech @volere.photography All other photos of my work taken by me.