The first thing you notice when entering the Just Your Style Salon in Georgetown, Texas may be the jingling bell hanging from a decorative peacock on the inside handle of the front door.
Then again, you could instead notice that the wall in front of you is in fact a half-wall and you can clearly see the opposite upper corner of the shop and much of the décor in between splayed out above. Or maybe your focus is drawn to the large welcome sign spelled out in hammered metal letters and displayed on a wood background hanging in front and just to the left of you. It’s possible to notice any one of these things, as well as others, on entering Julie Holman’s styling salon, and all of it gives you a little insight on the woman your about to meet.
I’ve known Julie for six years and early on I decided that she is one of the most creative and caring individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Julie is an experienced hair stylist who owns the Just Your Style salon, as described above. Her shop is appointment only and she never allows walk ins. Why? Well on any given day you can be sure she’ll be booked solid for the next two or three weeks, with store hours that can start at around 9 a.m. and end with her last client at 7 p.m., which means she’ll be going home at around 10.
She treats her clients like you might expect a host to treat guests in their own home. She has a coffee station with a Keurig and a whole basket full of different coffees, teas and coco, so her clients can relax with a hot drink. She greets every person that walks through the door with a warm, happy smile, as if they’re a friend she hasn’t seen in a long time.
It’s the devotion to making her shop a comfortable environment and the care she takes in styling that lets Julie really connect with her clients.
On one of my visits to her shop early on a Saturday morning (one of her busiest days), her first client, a tall, older woman, walked in and began talking to Julie like they were old friends. It turns out, Allisha had only started frequenting Just Your Style recently, but it was already vastly better than her previous salon experiences. She described to me how switching from chain hair salons to Julie’s shop had given her a huge boost of confidence and a safe place to be herself.
“As a guy, they just cut it short, just cut it short, you know. I didn’t look in the mirror cause I hated to. This is different, its doting over you.”
Allisha had previously been called Ally, but she had finally gotten an official name change. When she walked into the shop that morning, she proudly announced the name change to Julie, who was overjoyed to hear it. For the rest of Allisha’s time at the shop Julie made a constant effort to use her new name. She created chances for herself to say it, even when it wasn’t necessary. While talking to me, Julie would say ‘Allisha’ every time she referenced her client, often skipping pronouns that would be more appropriate or grammatically correct. But, by the end of the three-hour visit, Julie had Allisha’s name down flawlessly, as if it had never changed.
Recently, Julie was offered a big opportunity by Office Depot’s Bizbox services. A team had been looking around Georgetown for a good place to set up an ad campaign, and they just loved the atmosphere in Julie’s shop. Bizbox wanted to film a commercial that would air on National Television and offered her a fair amount in compensation (several thousand dollars per day of filming). The commercial would have given her shop a lot of notoriety and exposure; however, she politely declined.
“What they wanted me to do was close my shop, and I was already booked solid.”
She offered to let them use half the shop for filming while she worked with her clients, but they said they needed her to close her shop for several days, so she again declined. To her, keeping her promises to her clients was much more important.
And really, it’s too bad that BizBox was unable to compromise, because the ‘Just Your Style’ salon is truly a work of art.
On entering, you follow the half wall until it gives way to the rest of the shop, which is covered wall to wall with various kinds of decorations, in a style, or ‘elements’ as Julie describes it, of vintage, modern industrial and whimsy. The ceiling is framed with decorated panels, the right wall is lined with curtains, the left wall with styling stations, decorations hang from the ceiling, and there are mirrors everywhere.
Behind you, the entire front wall is one big window, with the name of the shop ‘Just Your Style’ displayed in white letters and red poppy flowers, a Georgetown staple, lining the bottom.
Many of the decorations you see are old and refurbished by Julie herself. The cabinet by the storage room and the small set of wooden drawers sitting on her desk were both refurbished pieces. The desk itself used to be a boring, old, dusty piece of furniture, but she cleaned it up and redecorated it to fit the shop's modern-industrial vibe. The curtains hanging on the wall are drop cloths, sheets used for protecting furniture from dust or paint, that she dyed herself. In the bathroom she has a very old trunk that she says many people wanted her to throw out, but she instead gave it new life.
“I had it stored in the back, and everybody’s like ‘can we just throw this away?’ and I was like ‘no, no I’m going to use that!’”
On top of the chest she has an old picture of her youngest daughter, Brianna, who is a studio artist. One summer, while Julie was in the middle renovating her shop, she asked Brianna to make some paper mache hot air balloons. Given little to work with other than a general steampunk theme, Brianna made Julie three different, yet cohesive, paper mache balloons to use as she pleased. They are displayed proudly above a what at first appears to be a painting of a mermaid. In reality, it’s a shower curtain in a hand-made frame, put together rather inexpensively by Julie herself.
When she’s not in her shop, Julie calls a mobile home on three acres of land her home. There she works on various renovations and outside projects, which recently included redecorating her front door and laying a stone pathway along the front of her house. Inside you’ll find what you would see in many homes; family photos, her daughters’ projects, and knick-knacks.
One decoration you probably wouldn’t see in other homes, however, is an ivy plant that Julie kept from her shop’s previous location. It’s over 13 years old, stretches from her dining room through her kitchen, is lined with Christmas lights, and its name is Fred.