From a young age, Beverly Robertson was drawn to hairdressing, sitting on the steps of her house and cutting her father's hair.
When she was 13-years-old, Robertson watched her mother's hairdresser dye her hair and then decided to try it for herself.
Determined, Robertson headed to Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up bleach to do highlights in her girlfriends’ hair.
After bleaching four of her friends’ hair, at two o’clock in the morning, Robertson decided she was so good that she could do her own.
Falling asleep with her foils in, Robertson woke up to find the bleach had bled all over her head.
Robertson went to her mother’s hairdresser to fix her hair. She told Robertson that it was the last time she would be staying late and next time she ruined her hair she would have to live with it.
However, that did not deter Robertson. Instead, she found her passion and continued to experiment with her girlfriends’ hair and her own.
That passion led Robertson to become a hairdresser, which kick-started her interest in participating in hair competitions. She always thought she would end up being a session stylist preparing hair for models in Toronto, but had an opportunity to open her own salon in Calgary, and took it.
A hairstylists’ passion
Robertson’s journey to becoming a hairstylist began when went to Bowness High School for their cosmetology program.
During her high school career, Robertson participated in hair competitions through her cosmetology program.
“Grade nine grad, I did everybody’s updos, grade 12 same thing, just loved it always. I was always known for doing the girls hair, still am,” she recalls.
The program brought in past graduates that were successful in the business so cosmetology students could gain insight in the hairstyling industry.
Robertson had an opportunity for a work experience program. She stopped going to high school full-time, attended night classes and started working at an urban trade store salon in Market Mall.
“I’ve worked in the salon since I was like 15 years old, grade 11, sweeping hair and I couldn’t get enough of it,” she says.
Once Robertson graduated from high school, she went full-time at the salon as a hairstylist and started going to the Allied Beauty Association (ABA), a registered non-profit organization representing majority of the Canadian professional beauty supply industry dealing with hair, nails and aesthetics.
The ABA hosts shows every weekend in different cities, which led Robertson to doing hair competitions.
“I felt like as soon as I put myself out there and compete, all of a sudden it would bring this whole other element to my career,” says Robertson.
Through her experience with hairdressing and competitions, she started working for Pureology, a hair product brand.
Robertson says she grew exponentially as a person from her time at Pureology.
“I remember being just so shy and not being able to talk in front of people and they really did help me grow into a facilitator. They helped me grow into a teacher,” says Robertson.
After staying with Pureology for about eight years, Robertson decided to go out on her own and rent a chair in a brow salon to do hairdressing.
“Anytime there’s growth, you get uncomfortable, which is a good thing,” says Robertson.
When Robertson pictured her life, she thought she would be a session stylist living in Toronto, “I really loved that set life, I really like photography, I love editorial, like I love that kind of stuff.”
While living full-time in Calgary, she travelled to Toronto more frequently because of an increase in job opportunities.
Getting more jobs in Toronto and thus spending more time there, Robertson planned to move there.
Robertson says, “I was like you know what, my story is going to be like ‘you’re 30, you’re starting over, you’re going to go to a bigger city, it’s going to be great!’”
Robertson was in the midst of planning to transition to Toronto, when a space beside the brow studio she was renting a chair in became available.
“I couldn’t refuse, it was like a path was already written,” says Robertson.
The Beverly, not your ordinary salon
Robertson decided to stay in Calgary to pursue this new challenge of opening a salon in 2018, and named the salon The Beverly, honouring her late father.
Though Robertson decided to take a different career path, she did not give up her love of competing.
“I still do all of the things that I set out to do, except now I just have a really amazing home to come back to.”
Robertson created this home with her team at The Beverly, where she changed the way the entrance and exit of how salons work.
“Usually when you walk into a salon you get a big intimidating front desk with a little 14-year-old staring at you saying, ‘Do you have an appointment?’ and it just felt like it was like intimidating,” says Robertson. “It wasn’t a celebratory feeling for the person walking in, because they’re the star.”
“I wanted it to feel like you were walking into my house and that you’re so welcome to come anytime you want, like the door’s always open,” she says.
She first decided on a massaging sink, and the rest of the aesthetics of the salon followed from there, creating a space for, “People to come early to arrive and late to stay and where they can feel like they can really chill out and be kind of a casual luxury.”
One of the hairstylists at The Beverly, Daniel Shouldice says, “We try to make it feel luxurious, but not intimidating. We want everyone to feel comfortable and welcome, but also that they’re getting the best service.”
Robertson built her team around the kind of atmosphere she wanted the salon to have.
“I feel like I’ve created a family. I feel like I’ve created a really cool spot to get your hair done that has really high standards of the quality of hair that we do,” says Robertson.
Something Robertson focused on is educating the client, teaching people what to use, how to style their hair and what looks best on them.
“The consultation is the most important thing so looking at skin tone and where they want their look to go and how to assist them through that,” says Robertson.
Robertson has plans in the work for The Beverly to expand first in Calgary, but would love to open The Beverly in Toronto.
“My team is so phenomenal. I want to grow with them,” says Robertson, “I want partners and I want great people to work with me and I don’t want to create a glass ceiling on top of anybody. I want them to live to their biggest potential.”
- By Kirsten Phillips