Q: Do you have a website?

A: Not yet – I’m too busy! So I probably don’t need one. Word-of-mouth is the best advertisement.

Q: How long have you been in this job?

A: I’ve had my license for 40 years. I graduated from Portland High School in 1970, went to Pierre’s (on Congress Street) for hairdressing, and got my license in 1971.

Q: Have you done any other jobs?

A: Besides raising six daughters, no! I do volunteer work, and way back worked at Espan’s Quick Lunch on Veranda Street. I started this business at home, in Windham, and I’ve worked at other salons – Headhunters, Ginny’s and others. I’ve been in this building since 1999.

Q: Has what you learned decades ago held up?

A: Well, back in the ’70s I was mostly doing French curls, which would stay in shape for an entire week. A little more elaborate than what people want today, except for major weddings. I’m still called “the queen of updo’s” – there’s a lot of technique involved, so that the hair doesn’t look glued together.
 Another thing that’s changed is color applications, so I have to keep up with that. I’ve attended many color classes, including mastering the palette, and a Paul Mitchell master cutting class in San Diego. The learning is partially self-taught, but always continuing. The last class was on low-formaldehyde and formaldehyde-free Brazilian keratin treatments.

Q: So you’re a chemist, too.

A: I don’t want to be responsible for hurting anyone!

Q: How are your prices?

A: Pretty reasonable, I think, considering our knowledge and years of experience, and the length of time we devote to each person. It averages $40 for a women’s cut, $24 for men. My philosophy is not to be a ‘god’ hairdresser, who charges a million and tells people what to do. That’s why my kids named this As You Wish – we’re service-oriented and want people to know that it’s their say-so. We take a lot of time with consultations so that we can provide what the client wants and expects. You learn and re-learn and refine the techniques, and there are so many different “canvases.”

Q: You must sometimes need to tell somebody that something isn’t a good idea.

A: One of my sayings is, you can’t make a three-piece suit out of a vest.  I want people to look the best they can; I seek to be informative and educate a client about the possibilities and how they apply to someone’s lifestyle, and what upkeep might be involved. I don’t like high-maintenance.
 Even my kids – I don’t encourage them to do anything that would take away from natural beauty, and if they insist on something I don’t think is good for them, I send them somewhere else.

Q: How do they take that?

A: They say fine, then go get it done, and I end up correcting it. One (daughter) once called up using a fake voice to ask about reversing something, and we had a lengthy conversation about how we would have to do it. And then she showed up here and it was her – I couldn’t believe I hadn’t recognized her voice. She thought it was funny, but it took three hours to correct her hair.

Q: You don’t just do women?

A: Oh, no. A lot of men, a lot of women, and we have children clients. A lot of the business is color. There are five other girls here, including my youngest daughter (Marisa Corsetti) and we all cooperate and kind of “network” each other’s business. I actually just gave a new caller to Anita (Richards). One girl (Tina Takacs) does electrolysis, Mindy Lamontagne does hair, manicures and pedicures, and Robin Stevens does keratin treatments.

Q: Have you done mohawks?

A: One, that I left like that. Other times, in the process of doing a buzz cut, I’ve playfully shown little boys what one would look like. But I don’t like doing purple hair and so on. I send those requests to another girl. And you usually have to “fix” those people later. People think everything’s easy to correct, but that’s just not the “chemistry” of hair.
Mullets? I haven’t done one in a good while. It’s funny, I remember back in the ’90s boys were having their hair cut very close around the ears and leaving, like, a rug on top. That’s not a pretty look, and there’s no skill involved in the cut. Later I went to a friend’s wedding on Vinylhaven and went to the little museum there, and saw a picture of the class of 1927. And the boys had that exact same haircut. There’s nothing new under the sun!
Q: How long will you keep at it?

A: Until my mortgage is paid, another 14 years, and then maybe I’ll slow down. I can’t help it, I have a lot of energy. My kids are all the same. You might as well be doing something!

Q: Who cuts your hair?

A: I actually cut a lot of it myself, or one of the other girls might help. One irony of being a hairdresser is that you don’t want to wait for an appointment.