Willow’s Dream chops away the horrors of hairstyling

By Kathryn Gambill, Copy Editor
I sit in the chair, anxious and waiting.
Hairdryers hum in the background as my favorite song by The National soothes my nerves from overhead.
Then, Brenda’s voice saying, “You’re going to be a total new you.”
Then, the scissors.
They snip and click as a weight is lifted from my shoulders. Literally.
I read a number of online reviews before showing up for my appointment at Willow’s Dream in downtown Asheville. Even with 4.9 stars on Google and numerous glowing recommendations, I was skeptical.
“I’ve never been a big fan of hair places,” says UNC Asheville senior Hannah Wiepke, her hair falling to her waist. “They kind of creep me out, actually.”
Hannah says she doesn’t like the lack of control.
Neither do I, especially when it comes to my hair.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve had my hair cut. Letting go is hard, and I’ve had too many unflattering haircuts to make the mistake of choosing an amateur hairstylist again.
But Brenda is no amateur. She’s been working at Willow’s Dream since 2006, and has been doing hair for 33 years.
Even so, I’m apprehensive, as inches of my hair hit the floor.
But the salon has a comforting vibe. It’s warm and intimate, a place that welcomes you to relax. The stylists buzz around, bringing the salon to life.
And that’s just what owner Marcy Lanier is hoping for.
She opened the salon in 2004, and her staff now includes 20 stylists, a nail technician, an esthetician and a spiritual reader.
“My peeps are really, really happy,” she says, smiling.
Marcy says her goal is for everyone to leave with a big smile.
I hope I will.
Before beginning my haircut, Brenda washes my hair. The typical, awkward introductory banter ensues.
Yes, I go to school at UNCA. I’m a mass communication major. This is my second year. I’m a sophomore.
Now that’s out of the way, it’s time to really get started.
I sink in my chair and let Brenda work her magic.
After several minutes, I can feel the ends of my hair, which previously fell below my collarbone, now brushing my shoulders.
I look down at the hair covering the floor around my feet, and back up into the mirror.
It feels like there’s more of my hair on the floor than there is on my head.
But this is what I asked for.
And the more I look at my reflection, the more I realize that Brenda isn’t just a stylist, but an artist.
She designed my hair to frame my face perfectly, with long layers giving it body, just like I requested.
Now I can take a sigh of relief.
“I want people to walk in here and forget about their troubles and their stresses, feel just kind of free for a little bit, laugh and giggle,” Marcy says, “and leave floating.”
So I float out the door, running my fingers through my new hair and smiling.
I consider snapping a selfie as I walk toward my bus stop.
Cars pass by. As I approach the crosswalk, a lifted truck rumbles up to the stoplight.
The window rolls down.
I can feel my eyes get ready to roll.
Less than a minute after leaving the salon, a Confederate-flag-clad man leans out of his pickup and lets out a whistle.
But I guess you can’t avoid the attention when you’re a total new you.