Two Hair Stylists and a Writer Walk Into a Thai Restaurant

There's not really a punchline to this joke except that these two stylists are MUCH cooler than I am! I ate Thai food with the very talented ladies of the salon world -- Tori Pelfree from ColorBar SD and Lisa Blackwell from PaperDoll Salon! The fact I got to eat Thai food with these women was amazing in itself but I also interviewed them about their magical talents with styling and coloring hair. READ ON!

 My name's Lisa Blackwell and I work at PaperDoll Salon here in San Diego. I've been doing hair for about five years now. I really love doing hair and artistic things....going out and seeing new things. 

My name's Tori. I color hair at ColorBar, San Diego. I also do education so I work with L'Oreal Professional -- I go into different salons and teach them about the color line or new trends. I'm color only - I've never cut hair in my entire career because I really love color. It's just my passion so I stick to it so I can really enhance myself. I love taking education classes as well because it lets me travel across the United States. Next month I'm going to Tennessee and I would never go to Tennessee for any other reason. I hope to build more on that. I'm kind of a shyer person so I love doing things like the education classes because it puts me out of my comfort zone. 

Most people that are shy would never want to be shoved out of their comfort zone - so that's awesome that you feel that way! I prefer to just avoid anything that may better me in the long run if in the moment it initiates my anxiety, haha. 

Yes, please take me out of my comfort zone because I will feel better after.

 Moving onto my personal life -- I'm vegan. I'm really into health. I do pilates and workout too.


 Die hard. Lisa & I have known each other for a really long time so it's been fun watching each other grow. We are at different salons now but it's really fun to keep up with each other. 

 I think it's super rad you work at..."rival"... salons in a way. How long have ya'll known each other and how did you become friends?

We've known each other about five years now. 

Yeah, just about! 4 years to be exact.

We both worked at a different salon together. Lisa started working about two years after I started working as an assistant. We just clicked and became friends.

We both had a very similar sense of humor. We talked about Spongebob the first day we met.

 That's the basis of a good friendship. 

Pretty much from then on we kept finding out more and more about each other and it was a lot of, "ME TOO!"'s happening. Basically I feel like Ive known her forever but haven't. 

What made you both want to even begin doing hair? Have you wanted to do it your whole life or was there something that kind of triggered you to go down that path?

 I didn't want to do hair originally - especially graduating high school. I had worked in a salon as a receptionist and I told myself, "I'm NEVER gonna work in a salon! They don't make any money, this sucks"...but I was also in a crappy booth rental salon that didn't take care of their employees Then I went to art school and spent my time there. Then I went into a really crappy job and knew there was always a salon I could fall back on. Around this time someone asked me if I had ever thought about doing hair because I did it on the side, randomly, for friends. I would get compliments all the time. But eventually after hearing that enough I looked into beauty school. I figured....honestly my game plan was I was gonna go to beauty school - do everything - and have that be my side job. Within the first seven days at beauty school (there's a policy that within the first seven days if you don't like it you can get all your money back) I knew this is what I wanted. I went to Bellus in Poway. I love it there and am still in love with it.

I went to City College so it was just community college and they didn't give me a seven day trial, haha.

Within those two days I knew this is where I was supposed to be. Never have I ever really succeeded in school or life and this was the first time I was like, "Wow! I'm doing good. I'm doing better than other people. This is amazing. I'm getting really good compliments from my teachers. They like me and wanna spend time with me and keep asking me to assist them. Am I .... doing the right thing?!" This is a real thing that's happening to me. Honestly it all just fell into place and anything I tried previously I would get hung up on little things. Beauty school was the first one that everything was smooth and I knew it was the right fit. I loved it so much that I would always talk about it at my last salon - where I worked with Tori - and she would always make fun of me, "WHY DON'T YOU JUST GO BACK THERE?!?!" I still love that school though - I keep in touch with all my teachers.

I would seriously say that haha, not in a mean way either. More like, "Why don't you go teach there?" or something. 

 I'm just a super decisive person. Once I make a decision - that's it. 

 Is that the Leo in you? (I just learned that an hour ago when Tori filled me in on some cool Zodiac shiz)

Yes! It's the Leo in me, haha. I think I was a Sophomore in high school when I started doing all of my friend's hair. I went to get mine colored at a salon Sophomore year and saw them working and I thought, "I wanna do that." I visualized my future doing that and it made me happy. Even in ten years if I'm doing that and making no money - I will still be happy. Senior year of high school I did all my AP classes, maintained a good GPA, and all of that stuff because I knew I was a teenager and could possibly change my mind. End of Senior year when people were doing their college applications and I was just like, "Nope. I'm doing hair." I went to beauty school directly after that.

Wow. I can't think of many people that have done that rash of a decision so young and really became successful from it. That's truly astounding. I thought I was gonna be a photographer my Senior year of high school and as much as I still love photography....I will never be one haha. 

It's funny cause my other career path would have been a psychologist but I kind of do that everyday anyway.


Hairstylists ARE lil psychologists because they listen to you openly with no judgement and give you advice. It's amazing. 

 You do a therapy session every time you're with a client so I got the best of both worlds. 

Hairstylists are one of the ultimate trusted people. When you (Lisa) first did my hair, there was stuff I was telling you that I was just thinking... "Why the fuck am I telling her this??? What am I doing?" The chair is magical. 

It is! 

 As soon as people get their hair washed they'll be like, "I don't know why I'm telling you this but....." 

 It's just something about that chair. Plus we are an unbiased opinion: we aren't going to judge you. We don't know anyone in your life. 

 I love that!

 Speaking back on horoscopes, though. Tori's very much a Leo and very decisive. And I'm way a Pisces and just go with the flow. 

 Even as a Sophomore I never thought of cutting hair - I only wanted to do color. 

That's insane. I wish I could have known exactly what I wanted at age 16. I'm only just realizing it at age 25! And most people can't even say they figured it out that young. 

 One of my high school teachers told me I'm stupid and won't make any money. I was always just like, "I'll be happy though", so they would respect that answer. Most people can. 

 Lisa you said you went to art school beforehand? What did you go for?

 I went to the Art Institute and I went for advertising. Their advertising program is a teensy bit of marketing and the rest is graphic design aimed at specific people. I knew I liked psychology in high school and also knew I liked something artistic - I just wasn't sure what my medium was. When I went there it was kind of a big surprise to everyone in my life. I ended up going and I loved it. 

 What sparked advertising in particular? 

I always had an interest in the back of my head. I liked seeing all the Superbowl ads. We had an economics class where we had to make this entire campaign. I did that and thought, "I like this. I could do this. This is fun." Went to school for it and pretty quickly.... well 2 years into a 3 year program....I realized I love this and am passionate about it but you literally have to be the top 99%. When I started it was when Mad Men first came out. So we're watching it and I'm just like, "I am not that person. It's not me".

Well you can love a lot of things but not make it your career. 

Exactly so I had a fond appreciation for it. I ended up working at this social media marketing company that was total crap and the owner was just....ugh. I had to get out of there. One client yelled at me one too many times so I wrote up my two weeks notice and then I quit. I bailed and I was unemployed for a week and a half or so. I immediately started working though because I'm a workaholic. I actually started being a receptionist at Paper Doll, where I'm at now, and I loved it. They kept pushing me to go to school. She worked with me and my schedule and it worked out great. 

 What were your experiences at beauty school then? I have a lot of friends that have gone and I feel like it's completely unique for everybody. 

 Our processes at beauty school were the exact opposite. I loved mine. My teachers were very hands on. I'm still very close to a lot of them and got to assist them during hair shows or going to events. I had so much fun. I feel like I learned a lot more than what most people get out of beauty school. Most people just learn how to pass state board and that's it. I feel like I almost assisted the year and a half that i was there. I got lucky.

 Mine was the total opposite. Haha. City College is a great school because it has the highest passing rate but that's all you do: learn state board. It's just learning about cleanliness, technical terms...

 So not the creative aspect of it?

No not at all. State Board is very dated so it's like I can wrap a perm really fast and I can tell you everything that goes into a perm but that's all we did. I liked it and I didn't. Whenever someone asks me what school they should go to I say Bellus. I liked it in a sense that when I did get out of school and became an assistant - I was a blank slate. I didn't have any weird habits to break. I didn't have any ego or anything. They got to mold me. There's pros and cons to it and it was super cheap. I got to where I needed to be but I didn't get to do hair for a year. It was just driver's ed.

It's definitely really interesting to hear that because not knowing much about this industry I would have never guessed how drastically different schools can be. I don't know why I would think that because other colleges with any degree are totally different....but I never thought about beauty school. 

 Even Paul Mitchell is way different. They teach a lot of different things.

"The Paul Mitchell Way"

Yeah the Paul Mitchell Way for EVERYTHING. They engrain it in your brain.

 What is that? If you can explain at all.

 It's just a different way of blow drying, of cutting hair, of coloring hair. 

 Would you say it's better?

 No -- definitely just a different way. We had someone that worked at our salon from PM and they have certain phrases they say too. 

 So it's just signature?

 Exactly. But if you don't work at Paul Mitchell you kind of have to relearn some things. That's a good example for a few questions ago: City College was no structure and then Paul Mitchell is STRUCTURE. 

 I'm assuming if you go to Paul Mitchell, then, that you are supposed to work at a Paul Mitchell salon? 

 Yes. They try to funnel you into Paul Mitchell salons.

That makes sense. That would suck if you went somewhere else and spent that time and money at Paul Mitchell.

 I worked with two ladies that were Paul Mitchell trained. Granted this was ten years ago but I do hair so much differently than they do and it weirded me out a lot. I thought I was doing it wrong, haha. I felt like I was having better results but was thinking, "Oh my God they are doing it so much differently." I went from Bellus - they are not as regimented as Paul Mitchell. 

I would say that's the "creative" school.

 A lot of their teachers there are Paul Mitchell trained but they take that way and kind of remold it with their own style and then train the students that. They told me straight up to learn the rules and then break the rules.

 Also - there is no right or wrong way for beauty school. I wouldn't have done it differently and I wouldn't expect anybody to do it my way. 

 What advice to you have to someone in both of your positions? When you (Tori) were in high school and when you (Lisa) weren't really sure what you wanted to do as far as a career? What would you say to potential, aspiring stylists?

 My biggest hang up was that I thought I was never going to make any money. I probably would have gone into beauty school a lot sooner if I didn't have that stigma in my head. Both my parents told me I would never make any money and it's a bad idea but I finally just was like, "I'm done. This is what I have to do." 

 That would be my biggest thing too. Don't let anybody tell you that you aren't going to make money. You could bomb, obviously, and not make money but you could also thrive and make a lot.

That could be any job too! No industry is a guarantee. 

 How many girls do you know that you went to beauty school with that just left or graduated and didn't do anything?

Not many people that I graduated with from beauty school are doing hair. 

 How would you handle someone that isn't happy with the coloring of their hair or the style you gave them? This just gives me the most anxiety thinking of ever being a hair stylist! 

I feel like I rock dealing with that situation. There are two answers I could give you: there's difficult people who are just never gonna be happy no matter what cause they're miserable in real life. But outside of that I think communication -- having a thorough consultation and being honest. 

 Getting through box color is always a gamble too -- so yeah it's just imperative to be blatantly honest with the client upfront. 

 My favorite answer to this is under-promise and over-deliver.

That's a solid motto! 

 If they really are unhappy though I don't like to let them leave until we have a plan. Don't leave or go to another salon. 

 I just imagine this being in the headlines, "Tori holds client hostage until they figure out a plan."

Hahah. No! More like, what's our next step to get you to be happy with the result? 

 I'm kinda the same way. We were both taught this way. (We were trained under the same person.) Stand your ground but also sympathize with the client.  Understand that you didn't give what you promised but then figure out a game plan.  The biggest thing is to keep them with you even if it's just to fix an issue. I've seen color corrections come in that have been to four different stylists! Understand that the more you go to the same stylist - the more they are going to get to know your hair. You find out more about how their hair lays and this and that. There are so many different facets that every time you get your hands in their hair you learn a little bit more. When you first come in I am working with a blank canvas and don't really know what's going to happen. 

Well said! With a blank canvas your hair could behave or it couldn't. It's as simple as a that. Medications will affect that outcome too along with health issues such as menopause, being pregnant, and stuff like that. 

 Coming from a client perspective, though, it's always awkward (for me) to tell someone I hate what they did because I feel really bad that I don't like it. I've had that happen to me a few times with getting my hair cut and I just never said a word because I felt more awful bringing up how much I was unhappy. 

 I would much rather you tell me upfront so I can fix it rather than see a bad review later or something like that or you never come back. It's a common thing too with clients that they will ghost you because they never honestly told you what they thought. 

 That totally makes sense and I never even though it about it that way.

Also if a client is happy with their outcome they will tell a few people but if they are UNHAPPY they will tell a million people. 

 It's definitely a two way street and I never even realized! I'm glad I brought that up. 

What's something that you haven't done yet that you'd love to do with someone's hair? Do you have any trends you wanna try?

 I've been really wanting to try rainbow roots.

 Oooooh me too! I haven't done that yet. 

I'm really a fan of shine lines which is on certain parts of the head - the rounds of your heads - you go in and you basically create a blurred line so when their hair is in the sun you can see the lightness. 

So a shine line is when it creates a shine of line? 

 EXACTLY! Haha. It's hard to explain. But yeah!! That's what I want to do. It's really pretty. 

 I'd love to do bright yellow on someone too. 

What has your favorite trend been with coloring or styling? I remember when I was obsessed with crimping my hair 24/7. 

Honestly I love those big, puffy pulled out braids. Our microcrimping. Nobody ever wants it but it gives a great texture and gritty volume.

I love when there's two textures in the hair too: there will be crimped / teased and then you'll do gelled ropes of the hair. 

 So just your typical, everyday wear?

Haha - yeah definitely Avante-garde! 

On the opposite note what has been your least favorite trend?


Woah, hahah. 

 Silvers and greys. 

 It's terrible. It's the one trend that I despise.

 When it's done right - it's pretty for just that day. It fades so quickly from solely the sun.

It fades to mud. Any silver you see on Instagram is day of, toned everyday or has filters. 

 It's swampy and gross. 

 I rarely will do it for someone unless I know it will be suitable.

I'll tone it really ashy and not make it pure silver otherwise it fades super gross. 

 I love you two. You're so honest and know what is best - that is what I'd want in a hair stylist! 

What's your go to style for yourselves? 

 Go to? Hm. For me it's wake up and leave the house, haha. That's pretty much what my life was for a long time. Recently I've gotten to push myself more to do more with it: put it in a bun, braid it, or do a little side bun. Last night my hair was wet so when I went to bed I braided it and now this is how my hair dried - it has so much body! I've been playing with the idea of dreads.

I feel like we change our styles up so much. We can show you pictures of our styles over the course of our friendship and it's honestly like two different people in each photo. We change our hair all the time.

 We get a lot of inspiration from our other stylists too. Tori has extensions right now because she did a class. I'm thinking of doing a long bob now too. I also think of shaving my head.

 I chopped all my hair off before and then two months later got extensions.

 We are constantly changing! 

 I'm the total opposite! It took me so long to take the plunge to purple hair - it's what I"be always wanted to do to my hair and I don't think I'm going to change it anytime soon. 

 It's definitely cool to have a signature color too! 

 Where do both of you want to see your career go? What do you want to see at a salon that isn't there now? 

 Oh, Lisa isn't going to like this answer but I feel like we are going to work together again. I feel like our work together isn't done. 

 I agree. We are tied together for life it seems. Even if we are working as educators or work in the same salon. We definitely aren't done with what we want to do in our careers.

I can see down the road you two opening a salon of your own. 

Yeah! We are both so passionate. It bothers us when people just think it's a job. No. It's a lifestyle, it's a passion. 

 My biggest thing is that I've been in salons where nobody gives a crap about each other but it has to be a family. Everybody helps each other and lends a hand.

That's how it should be for sure. That separates how you know if you are truly passionate where you're at or not. 

 I always end my interviews by asking how do you #staynerdy?

 I'm cosplaying as Starfire this year at comic con! This is gonna be my first year I'm cosplaying. I really get into shows. I'm a big Batman fan so I watch Gotham. Anyone can hate on it but I freakin love it. I have a Captain America poster in my room along with a Panic! At the Disco (I'm 12 years old.) I have a million Disney tattoos, a Hey Arnold tattoo and Harry Potter tattoos. There's a whole list, haha. I haven't played in over a year but I love DnD. 

 Sooooo. How can I top Tori? Haha. Last year I last minute cosplayed as Mr. Meeseeks from Rick and Morty. It was a lot of fun. It was for Comic Con and it didn't last all day haha. My husband was Rick and his younger sister was Morty. I'm into superhero movies and that kinda stuff. I have a lot of little different things: I've gotten into Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. I've read all the books back to back. I listened to them on tape too. I played the Star Wars RPG recently too - it's rad. 

We both get really into serial killer stuff too. We are always texting each other about things we find or hear. 

It was so fun hanging out with these two ladies! I had no idea how ill informed I was in the salon world. The best thing I took away from this, and I think you should too, is to always follow your passion and don't let the idea of how little money you can make deter you from pursuing. In this day in age you can make money doing ANYTHING as long as you put in the effort. Until next week - ya'll dorks #staynerdy! 



Oh my Disney lanta I had one of the absolute best days of my life last week! I got to hang with amazing animator / creator Nara Youn. He works for Disney and had lunch with me and was even kind enough to give me a one on one tour of the Disney Animation Studios! I am still in awe that this really happened for me and I can't wait to share all the deetz with ya'll Disney dorks!


Perfect Humans is growing up! We FINALLY got pin back cards! How cute? We will be offering a larger array of pastel colors soon but for now we have sea foam green and baby pink! Next on our to do list is to include shaped rubber pin backs! 


Ever since I was about eight or nine - I have dreamed of building my own computer start to finish. Welp - that dream is becoming a reality! Stephen is helping me build my first and very own desktop! In about three weeks it'll be complete which means I can blog a LOT more. I can't wait to show you when it's done - it will be complete with all the bells and whistles to really exemplify the total dweeb I am.