“If a client tells me something, it doesn’t go anywhere,” said Susie Carrera, looking around Shear Artistry Salon and Spa, with a slight smirk on her face. “That’s a good hair stylist.” She would know. Quick number crunching indicates she has given more than 100,000 cuts since she started working as an assistant in a salon 43 years ago.
A Santa Barbaran from the Westside, Carrera grew up in a family of small business owners. After working at Shear Artistry for 20 years, she bought the business in 1999. Carrera just relocated to a larger spot around the corner and is now in a 2,000-square-foot space at 271 North Fairview Avenue. A partition of beads stands behind the front desk, the walls are rich and tan, the ceilings are high, and open space is plentiful. A regular described the new place as “contemporary” but “warm.” “I think you attract people who are similar to you,” Carrera said of her clients.
Running a small business during difficult economic times hasn’t been Carrera’s only challenge. Twenty years ago, she was rushed to the hospital and soon after had emergency brain surgery at a medical center in San Francisco, leaving the right side of her body nerve-damaged. Her motor skills and vision were impaired for a while, but with a lot of therapy and a pair of glasses, she slowly recovered. She had to practice using scissors by cutting paper. “It’s the first time cutting hair was hard.” She even trained for several marathons after recovering. “I’m a feisty little thing,” she said. “You have to stay positive. It takes too much energy to be negative.”