Around the time Woody Theis was going to achieve her 25-year anniversary with Juut, she set up a meeting with David Wagner to share an idea with him.
At that time, Wagner gave employees a piece of jewelry as a thank you for their service at Juut on major anniversaries.
“I felt like we could do anniversaries better at Juut, in a way that inspires young people more,” she says. “I thought it was an opportunity to do something inspirational, so I invited David for coffee and asked him what he thought about showcasing people in a different way.”
Wagner asked her what she thought about the jewelry and Theis said, “I think it’s a lovely gesture, but that we should do something more inspiring like paying for outside education.”
As they brainstormed ideas on the right gesture, Theis jokingly told Wagner he could always just send them to Paris.
A short time later, Theis reached her milestone anniversary, and Wagner presented her with plane tickets to Paris.
“I was totally joking,” Theis says of her stunned response. Now, when a stylist hits a milestone anniversary, he or she is presented with plane tickets to a place that inspires them.
“But that’s who David is,” Theis says of his willingness to try a new method of honoring long-time employees. “He is open to any idea that will make Juut better.”
Theis has now been with Juut for 30 years and says Wagner and his culture of Daymaking continue to make the salons special. And it all starts from the moment a potential stylist interviews.
“We don’t hire someone who isn’t a Daymaker already. You have to naturally bring in the right energy to work here, because we can’t teach that,” Theis says.
But she also acknowledges the different levels of maturity in the staff, and that sometimes new, younger stylists may need guidance to keep up their positive attitudes.
“You’re tired, hungry, broke up with your boyfriend—how do you not bring that into the salon?” she asks. “It’s about the choices we make outside Juut. The way we take care of ourselves leads to how we treat people every day. The most important thing is to just be present.”
But Theis says the work that happens behind the chair is only half of the equation. “What you do outside of the salon—education and inspiration—is the other half, and the key to being genuine and present with clients.”
Recently, Theis faced one of her most challenging weeks ever when she worked all day on the Wednesday and Thursday after the 2016 presidential election.
Always in tune with what her clients need, she found herself offering comfort and conversation to the majority of her guests.
“But I had two clients who were happy with the election results. They are both sophisticated, traditional Republican men,” she says. “I don’t ever discuss politics with one of them, but the other one regularly debates politics with me.”
The first client said nothing other than he had stayed up to watch the acceptance speech. The other talked about his daughter, who was a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Because of her experience as a Daymaker, Theis knew exactly how to speak with all her clients and deliver what they needed.
“Nobody was happy that week,” she says. “I had one client almost in tears, so I finally told her we were going to talk about the casino—her favorite place. With other clients, I find humor lightens up the situation. You just have to be light about it. I found talking about my 10-year-old daughter, and how the election impacted her, helped, too.”
Making her clients’ day—even in dark times—is about remaining conscious of them as individuals for Theis.
“Nobody knows what’s going to make someone’s day,” she says. “Getting a flower might make someone’s day, but not somebody else’s. But being in the moment with them helps me figure out what’s right for them.”
Theis says some days, she just needs to be light and tell clients, “The only thing we can do is have good hair.” Other days people need quiet, or to be touched, or product recommendations, or to be in and out in 20 minutes.
“If I’m consciously paying attention to them, I can make their day.”