Anna Evans began her career cutting friends’ hair in high school. Now she owns the first gender-neutral salon in Lincoln, Nebraska. She believes a cut and color is wearable art, and that everyone deserves to get their hair done in a comfortable and supportive environment.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Anna Evans-Bayer, owner of Sisu Hairdressing and international hair educator who opened my company 8 years ago to fill a great need in our community. I never wanted to own a business, but when my first business partners changed direction, I knew I had to open a salon to best serve Lincoln. I grew up in Nebraska and swore I would never stay. Now at age 36, I’ve never lived in another state because I (pre-covid) traveled so much for work! I get the beauty of living in the Midwest while being able to see the world. I love mentoring new talent and bringing our community together through focusing on everyone’s inner beauty & strengths. Not only do I train nationally, I work daily with my Sisu team to help foster our hair community. I love to cook, run, read, and spend time with my mini feminist, and super husband.
How did you get involved in your work?
I have always loved the artistry of hairdressing and started experimenting on my friends’ hair in high school. After graduating cosmetology school, I became an educator for an international company while working up the ranks at my first salon. I quickly became the artistic and educational director of my first salon and was made partial owner. I knew I had more to offer our community than my first salon was allowing me to do, so I left after 5 years and ventured out to start my own company. As I said, I never wanted to own a business, but I am so glad I did! I had no formal business training, but have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Back in my childhood days I’d sell custom jewelry and always made sure to have profit margins at my lemonade stands. Being an educator, it was a natural fit to mentor and build a team of badass people who give this industry and their community their all every day. We have a custom educational program that every Sisu stylist is trained in.
Why the name Sisu?
Sisu is a Finnish term that has no direct English translation, but roughly translated means “the determination to walk through stone” + “extreme strength in the face of adversity” + “moxie”. When I went through a tough break up in my early 20’s, my best friend told me I have Sisu. I knew opening my own company from scratch would take a lot of Sisu, and it’s been a driving force my entire life. I have been through many adversities in and out of work life, and Sisu carries me through.
What made you decide to do genderless pricing for your services?
In the beginning of my career I questioned why we charged for haircuts by gender. Gender does not determine the length or style of your cut, so why should it determine the pricing? As time has passed and I have grown, I started to realize the added benefit of this model of creating an inclusive ambiance. As a lifelong believer in equality, gender neutral pricing was an obvious choice. At the time there was only one other salon in the USA and one in London using a gender neutral model, so I had to do a lot of creative work to bring it to life. It has been so heartwarming to see this model grow and spread over the last several years to reach more salons and more people worldwide.
What is your favorite form of self-care?
Reading is my favorite form of self care. As a working mother and wife, it’s my “me” time.
How have you been staying connected to your community during such an isolating time?
During the covid shut down last year, I worked to stay engaged with our guests in a variety of ways. I started a private page with exclusive content for them on social media where we posted at-home tutorials. I emailed them weekly with updates regarding the shutdown and salon offerings. I offered weekly doorside delivery of hair product orders. I had already planned a fundraiser where we were selling custom scrunchies to raise money for a local women’s safe house, so we turned it into a virtual option to purchase and have them shipped, and offered curbside pick up. I also did more live streams on social media than I ever have.
For the salon team, we did weekly Zoom sessions to catch up on life and brainstorm creative ideas. Now that we’re back, I’m so lucky to be able to see my clients every day I work behind the chair! This has been a real gift. We take the pandemic very seriously and have strict protocols so everyone feels comfortable and safe. But I can’t wait to see their faces behind the masks again some day!