We choose a hairdresser with the same meticulousness as we choose a GP or a therapist – a quest as thorough as it is intimate. It is our hairstyle that makes us human, and let me challenge anyone who doubts it to a duel. We stand and fall on our hair or its absence – and even a bald pate lovingly shaved is a weighty style statement.
Our personal choice, over an immaculate professional or a friend to banter with in the salon, is a mystery even to ourselves. Hair stylists are a caste of sorcerers anyway, and I shall curse anyone who contradicts.
It took me ten years of life in Leipzig to find such a sorceress.
Wim Lukowsky, Class 9, interviewed her out of the blue, without an appointment, in her lounge full of customers at different stages of hair severing, revival or dyeing. Still, the young journalist was welcome, and this is what he reported after the conversation.
Mevlana Gashi’s Mevlounge is situated on a side street off Jahnallee in Leipzig, Waldstraßenviertel. The atmosphere in the place is very relaxed and quiet. The customers are offered drinks. The salon is very clean, and designed in cream and lilac tones.
The Albanian-born Mevlana came to Germany at the age of 12. She became a hairdresser after a work placement in Gutersloh. “Love took me to Leipzig,” she says with a wistful smile.
Mevlana opened her salon in 2007, and her business has been on the rise ever since. Many of the customers are international and speak different languages.
“It is important for me to be authentic and not to limit my target group to specific social circles or ages,” Mevlana explains. “I love all kinds of people, be they successful businessmen or tramps. I know a lot about my visitors and everybody is welcome.”
Her paramount requirement for her team members is to be child-friendly. She is married and has two pretty little daughters who can often be seen by her side, smiling, well-behaved and inconspicuous – a dream for any parent.
The special thing about Mevlounge is the personal connection between the hair stylist and customer.
Mevlana knows who is sitting on her hairdressing chair, and the customer knows her life story as well. So they can whisper secrets, or argue and tease each other, because they are friends and can tell the truth.
The salon owner is a very fashionable young woman herself, and says she was even more adventurous and experimental with her image and outfits when she was younger: “I’d love to see more stylish people in Leipzig, everybody here is so modest or sporty, so Jack Wolfskin, I hardly ever see high-heeled, dressed-up ladies even at parties – too casual, too boring.”
Mevlana would like to continue living in Leipzig in the future. She knows many people in the city and has a lot of friends, so it’s no wonder she wants to stay here and educate her daughters. They are being brought up trilingual: German, Albanian and English.
As a matter of fact, there is one more dream Mevlana hopes to make come true. It would be a pioneering business idea for Leipzig: a children’s hair salon, named after her elder daughter.
As of now, such an enterprise would require a lot of time and funding, as well as highly qualified employees. Consequently, it would be too expensive for most of the parents. However, Mevlana hasn’t given up on the idea yet. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
By Wim Lukowsky with Svetlana Lavochkina, Free Waldorf School Leipzig / Bridges of (Com)passion series