“Ever since the advent of hair care techniques for black women by Madame Walker, the market has expanded and taken turns in different directions, creating an evolution in black hair care,’’ says John Atchison. Certainly he should know because his contributions are the latest development along the continuum of black hair care.
His hair styles have appeared in Vogue, Essence, Redbook and McCalls. He has served on Bazaar’s Board of Beauty Counselors. He was invited by Wella to participate in a presentation of fashionable hairstyles — his Pyramid Cut stole the show. Talent paved his way into these circles, but innovation is keeping Atchison among the top twelve black hair care specialists in the country.
Instead of resting on his laurels, Atchison sees education on all levels as his goal. He conducts an apprenticeship program for newly licensed, would-be stylists. The Atchison program demands adhering to a specific system of proven techniques that all trainees must learn in a six month to one year course that always includes instruction in hair care product knowledge. Staff and student conferences are an integral part of his operation so that learning experiences are shared and the Atchison Look maintains its identity and uniformity.
John is as concerned about the education of the public about hair care as he is about his students. “Company ads for hair care products that reach a large segment of the population should be geared to teaching those who may be misinformed about the proper way to care for ones own crowning glory,’’ says John. ‘‘Right now there is a need to undo the myth that black women can give their hair total care. Hair is a part of the body and there is danger if one is not careful about the total care from the roots out. Proper nutrition is necessary. Poor treatment such as sleeping in rollers, over relaxing hair with hot comb or chemicals or other electrical appliances can be devastating.”
A basic hair cut, which is a John Atchison specialty, is a must. Cutting the hair is like pruning a plant. It creates a shape and prevents split ends. Just to have a great look for one evening can be fine, but if the style is achieved by poor techniques, it may be at the expense of the healthy condition of the hair. The proper hair cut can produce a flexibility that can be altered to meet spontaneous needs. “It’s like changing clothes“, says John.
Besides being an artist and educator, John is a pragmatic businessman. He realizes that some people are reluctant to try a stylist of his reputation because they feel the cost is prohibitive. This, says John, is my concern also. To minimize costs to his clients, John instructs them on how to maintain their hairstyle, which reduces their visits to one every six weeks. John Atchison Beauty salon, 44 West 55th St, New York City (265-6870)