42 years strong
Growing up on a ranch, Jay Seale never considered doing hair.
In college, Seale knew he needed to find a different career path and contacted a local hair stylist to see if he could learn the art of barber. Instead, he walked into a cosmetology school and fell in love with cutting hair.
“I think it surprised a lot of people,” Seale said.
Forty-two years later, Seale is still doing hair in Fredericksburg under the name Jay & Co., and even has some of his original clients.
“Sometimes you see some of these clients more than you see your own family. Relationships are very important in this business,” Seale said.
The perfect look
While the services are dependent on the stylist, Jay & Co. offers cuts, colors, perms and trims.
“It’s very rewarding helping someone feel good about themselves and the way they look,” he said.
On the flipside, one of the biggest challenges is trying to read what the client wants, Seale said.
“You have to listen to them and figure out their lifestyle so you can give them a hairstyle that fits their needs,” he said. “It’s very much an art and many times, you have to trust your instinct.”
Seale knows he has given people cuts they aren’t in love with but doesn’t think he has created a look that can’t be fixed.
“I can’t say that I have messed someone up to no return, but you have good days and bad days. Cutting hair is not easy,” Seale said. “Forty-two years later, it’s still a challenge.”
Hair through the years
Much like fashion, hair styles come and go but many come back into style.
“People are always going to need their hair cut. This profession is here to stay,” Seale said.
Some of the trendier styles include the Dorothy Hamill cut, which Jay became known for. Others, however, have been getting the same cut from Seale for 42 years.
While owning and operating a hair studio is typically a female-dominated profession, Seale takes pride in his work and his clients.
“It’s pretty unusual but I don’t think it is as unusual as it was in 1976,” Seale said. “It was hard at first and I almost quit, but a co-worker told me I was too good and I just kept doing what I love.”
Last April, Jay & Co. was victim to a fire, closing the North Llano Street salon down.
“It was hard and very unexpected, of course, but within 24 hours, we were back in business and we were ready to move forward,” he said. “When you’re in business for yourself, you have to be resilient and I was going to make sure my stylists could continue doing what they love.”
Passing it on
Seale works with many young stylists who are just starting out or who haven’t been in the business long.
Because he has 42 years under his belt, he is able to be a mentor.
“It’s gratifying to see these young people just starting out,” Seale said. “I hope that I am able to help them and show them ways to improve and learning how to deal with people. But I learn from them, too. You never really stop learning.”