https://shiftworkplace.com/podcasts/free-you-me-rachel-gour/

E53 Free To Be You and Me with Rachel Gour

Tagline

Beauty and light: A hairdresser shows us how to discover our inner beauty and light by being true to ourselves.

Bio for Rachel Gour

Rachel Gour is an entrepreneurial and visionary hairstylist, salon owner and hair educator, who foresaw the connection between skincare products and health much before it became popular. She has been in the hair industry for 33 years and worked as a sales and relationship builder, wish granter and event planner before that. She advocates for women’s choice and growth and has worked to get high-risk female teens off the streets. She is a parent to 2 sons.

Episode highlight

As a white person raised on an Indigenous reserve with a black-fathered child, Rachel Gour knows what being immersed in a melting pot of cultures is like. Listen in on how she has assimilated the lessons of acceptance and love into her work as a hairdresser today.

Links

Quotes

  • “We’ve aged, we’ve learnt, we’ve deserved these greys.”
  • “I want to stay young and the only way that I can stay young is stay current.”
  • “My first life experience was out on the reserve, and it was my best experience.”
  • “My dad… and my mum both raised us to not see colour.”
  • “My eclectic group of friends today are what I grow and thrive from, their life experience, and I want them to always feel like they don’t have to think that they are poorly thought of in my presence.”
  • “It doesn’t matter who you are and what you are, you are loved, you are here, you are now and you are important.”
  • “If they want to do a haircut and take it with them, I would honour that. If culturally they want to wear a hijab and be in a private place, I will culturally be aware of that and honour that.”
  • “I can see a pattern of a woman who is about to leave a situation, be it a job, a family, her life, something that’s causing her lots of grief and right before that or during or after, she will cut her hair.”
  • “A woman that is about to make a change will cut her hair” – Coco Chanel
  • “We have to work together. So I have to show you my vision, and you have to show me your vision and then we need to work together to get there.”
  • “I’ve never been able to understand how we don’t love and like other people.”
  • “Ethically, what I wanted to do in my business was to always make sure that women could afford to feel beautiful.”
  • “I will take the most… Negative Nancy… [who does] not believe to be a believer that she can embrace her grey and it will be okay.”
  • “Everybody has something to celebrate, everybody has something beautiful in them, on them, with them.”
  • “That’s the best way to lead in your business, is to make sure that you hear them [the clients], you see them and you understand them and they see and hear and understand you.”
  • “We are all one and we are all deserving of beauty and light in this world.”

Takeaways

Childhood Incidents

Rachel was adopted into a hardworking, educational and humble family in Edmonton, with a French Canadian father and a British mother, who had a Titanic-esque love story but with a happy ending. She has always been told she was ‘handpicked’ by them and she “embraced it and loved it”. From her biological family, she has learned passion, humour and acceptance.

Her father wanted the children to flourish so he moved them to an acreage on a Native Indian reserve outside Edmonton. Rachel went to the same school on the reserve that her father was a Principal of and her mother worked as a librarian in. She grew up in an atmosphere of mutual support and sharing in a community where everyone was free to be the truest version of themselves.

Rachel was young when she got pregnant with her first son. Her father took her to lunch and told her, “some people are not going to love your baby”. This was the first time Rachel became aware of racism and had not considered the implications of having a mixed-race child before. Till then, her life had been a melee of cultures and cuisines and she wanted the same for her child.

Influential groups

Rachel’s family hosted many refugees in their large home. Her father’s vision was to grow produce on the acreages without pesticides, and the whole family and their guests worked on farming in the summers when school was out. She remembers that time as one of bonding, mischief, freedom and learning to celebrate different religions and beliefs.

Since Rachel’s mother worked in the school on the reserve, Rachel got to know many teachers personally. “It was a beautiful school because we learned nothing about colour, but just that we were children”, she recalls. She embraced the different cultures she was exposed to and had many life-changing experiences there.

Temperament and Personality Influences

Rachel harks back to school report cards which said “Rachel talks too much in class!” and has found more people like her through life. It served her well in sales and works well in hairdressing to sell her personal brand. She is often told by friends of friends that she is well spoken-of and lively. “I am grateful I am aware that is who I am”, she notes.

Cultural Epiphanies

Rachel has learnt a lot about women by noticing the events in their life around which they come for a haircut. She finds learning their stories keeps her work exciting and new. It has also made her the transformational leader she is today, helping women through transitions in their lives. She helps them embrace the process of greying and ageing with dignity and grace.

Advice to an Employer

When Rachel first meets a client, she asks about their grievances and what they don’t like about their hair. She then asks about what they love about their hair and the look and style that made them feel the best. ”You tell me who you are, I will tell you who I am, and we will work together”, she summarizes.

More Great Insights!

Rachel feels strongly about loyalty in the hairstyling industry and takes any client leaving her personally. “It’s like a relationship – the more you give to it, the more you’re going to get from it”, she explains. She understands when clients need to make a change, but she also keeps herself up-to-date with the current trends and knowledge and works to keep her styling fresh.

Extro

Rachel Gour, hairstylist and beauty business visionary, had the unusual childhood experience of being brought up next to a First Nations community where both her parents taught and where she went to school. From racing through gardens as a child to helping women transition their hair into graceful gray, she has spent her life being attentive to processes, spreading kindness and joy, and experiencing a deep connection with everyone who crosses her path.

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