It’s all about the blend.
Nan Nelson, a hair stylist and makeup artist at the Loft Salon on Music Row, uses a musical metaphor to describe her personal touch.
“Music is a big driving force in my life,” she says.
“What I do is work in a rhythm — you can either kick it up or turn it down.”
“I like to have a mix of the acoustic — soft and pretty — or electric, which is sort of edgy and wild. I like blending the two and blurring those lines.”
Under her guidance the routine and ordinary can become something special.
Nelson currently works with a variety of clients, both during private appointments or on photo and video shoots throughout the country.
She has sharpened her skills in barbering with a number of musicians based in Nashville, including:
She also primps and styles for new country trio Post Monroe Band, featuring former Nashville Star contestant Whitney Duncan.
Nelson, a multiple winner of Best Stylist in the Nashville Scene‘s Best of Nashville poll, performs her magic at the Loft Salon, where she does everything from hair styling to highlights.
She has succeeded by always being friendly and approachable. It’s a perspective she says she shares with one of her long-time clients: Charlie Daniels.
“Charlie treats everyone in his camp with respect. They’ve been loyal to him all these years,” she says.
“A good rule of thumb in this business — or any business — is to treat everyone the same.”
The perfect canvas
Nelson keeps an even keel as she hustles through a busy schedule, making sure there’s not a hair out of place.
She brings glamour, and a sense of authenticity, each time she stands behind the chair.
“Once the hairdresser touches the hair, they stop listening and start planning,” she says, divulging trade secrets with a smile.
“The first priority is to make them comfortable and really listen.”
“I usually put my hands on a client’s shoulders while they explain what they want and what they fear to avoid the temptation of drowning them out to talk about what I want, rather than listening to their concerns or desires.
“It’s a creative curse — like getting a brand new Sharpie, or a perfect white canvas.
Nelson asks open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing, and she stresses that consultation is as important as cutting.
“The No. 1 reason hairdressers lose clients: because they don’t listen,” she says.
Instead, Nelson makes recommendations based on each client’s own unique strengths.
“Every hairdresser’s struggle is educating the client on what works for them,” she says.
“We all have our challenges, and it’s important to accept them and adapt. It’s a collaborative process. They pay you for your opinion and your expertise.
“People can tell you what they don’t like a lot easier than they can tell you what they do.”
“I think honesty is important.”
Brushing up on her knowledge
Even though she grew up nearby, Nelson feels she has come so far.
She was born in Georgia and moved with her family to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, at age 11.
After graduating from Eagleville High School, she wanted to do something creative that would allow her a certain amount of time and flexibility to explore her other passions.
At every opportunity, Nelson has sought to enhance her skills.
When she’s not enjoying her favorite pastimes such as kayaking or meeting up with friends at Music Row watering hole Loser’s, she’s traveling to Las Vegas, Denver and other locations throughout the country to undergo private training.
“What I bring to the chair is knowledge,” she says.
“Instead of going to trade shows, I train privately. I sacrifice vacations and pay out of pocket to attend these and learn more about the business. I’ve been able to make so many friends through social media who have helped me as well.
“I have a great clientele and the freedom to travel.
“I’m really happy with where I am.”