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Conversations with Jeff Hafler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Hafler.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I am America’s Hairstorian. I was a History lover who became a hairdresser when I was a teenager. I thought I would be an archaeologist when I was a kid. I ended up graduating at the top of my class in beauty school at the Ohio State school of cosmetology in Columbus, Ohio. My career started in Columbus, Ohio. I then moved to Seattle and Hollywood, California before I settled in the high desert in Joshua Tree and 29 Palms with my husband Mikal Winn a fabulous jewelry designer www.mikalwinndesigns.com and our 16 years old son Cash! I started collecting when I was 19 in 1991, 30 years ago this year! The collection now contains over 3000 pieces of hair and beauty history and memorabilia and it’s all on display inside of my salon and museum in Joshua Tree, California. www.BeautyBubble.net I recently had an exhibit at the SFO Museum in the San Francisco Airport Harvey Milk terminal called Hair Style. The exhibition displayed 50 artifacts from my collection, six of my Hairsterical hairdo sculptures and giant photographs of the inside and the outside of my salon. The exhibition at SFO lead to the production of a documentary about my life called Inside the Beauty Bubble that will be headed to film festivals this fall. I am also a musician and there are nine original songs in the score of our film. My story has been archived in the library of Congress and this is the 30 years mark of my career in hairdressing and of preserving our important cultural history. I am proudly stepping away from the chair to manage the shop and I have three stylists and a manicurist who rent their stations from me. Wendy, Ariel, Morgan and Ryan do wonderful work at the Beauty Bubble. Hair and nail appointments can be made on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and the salon and Museum are open as a roadside attraction on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I was 20 years old with the dream of creating a roadside attraction beauty parlor museum and I am living that dream along route 62 in the high desert of the Mojave in Joshua Tree, California.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Certainly not a smooth road all the time. Shortly after I opened my hair salon in West Hollywood in 2001 9/11 happened which affected everyone’s business around the world. After I opened my home salon in Wonder Valley, the great recession and gas crisis of the late 200os happened which affected my business as well as many others. Now we have recently endured the great pandemic of 2020 and 2021. Another bump in the road for sure but I can see the silver lining.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I recently created a series of 8 wig sculptures called the Hairsterical Gals. They are vintage hairdos made out of vintage hair things. For years people have donated their rollers, rods, combs, clips, barrettes and do-dads to my collection. I had accumulated a mountain of beauty waste. In 2018, I dumped everything in the middle of the floor and separated it all by color. My first instinct was to make a flip sculpture out of the blue things. I helped create and curate an art show at the La Matadora Gallery in Joshua Tree owned by my friend Colleena. I co-hosted the exhibit with my friend Jane who also made a series of hairdo paintings. We had a dozen artists who all contributed hair-related art and the show was called Hairsterical. Six of my sculptures ended up going on to the SFO Museum in 2020. The Hairsterical gals will soon be headed back to the Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum…

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
My vision and dream for the future of the Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum would be to build a geodesic dome and make it look like a giant turquoise hairdryer, creating the ultimate, Americana roadside attraction. The Beauty industry will always continue to grow and prosper and I am a proud beauty operator for life!

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Jeff Hafler

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