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Getting Our Hair Done Together Helped Me And My Mom Become Best Friends And Shaped My Career

Writer Dory Zayas breaks down how her relationship with her mother helped shape her career in the beauty industry.

Growing up in Maine, there was no shortage of snow days. Most kids love to spend the day off playing in the powder and baking cookies while the snowflakes fall outside. For me, however, snow days meant something different. Whenever school was canceled (before remote learning was a *thing*), my mom would slowly and carefully drive our all-wheel-drive Subaru 4.7 miles down the road to spend all day at the local hair salon. The owner Darolyn lived next door so that she could walk to work. She always had cancellations during big storms, and we were always happy to scoop up those appointments. We were her snow day regulars.

Darolyn was talented in all aspects of hair, and my mom and I would get cuts and color and gossip—it was always just the three of us in there. We stayed for hours and had the best time chatting, flipping through magazines, and sitting under the dryers. Those days at the salon actually shaped me and my career today.

photo of dory zayas and mother

Before she retired, my mother owned a fabric store, and I spent my childhood surrounded by colorful quilts and gorgeous gowns. I saw my mom’s creativity flourish as she created wedding dresses for brides (she even made her wedding dress and my prom dress) and she inspired me to be creative in my own life as well. She indulged my girly side, allowing me to play dress-up with her rolls of sequin fabric or raid her makeup drawer.

I've always loved beauty and self-care, and now I've made it my job. As an editor, I write about beauty trends, scout new product launches, and get paid to test new lipstick shades. My love of all things beauty definitely stems from these childhood field trips to the salon, when there were no cell phones, and I got to spend the entire day with my mom distraction-free.

It was never really about looking good, especially when I was younger. For me, it’s always been about the experience of a treatment and feeling good after the fact. The confidence good hair gives me is unmatched—there is a reason why everyone is always striving for a “good hair day."

photo of dory zayas and her mother

My mom and I also used to brush each other’s hair at night and tried to master new styles of braiding on each other. I’m an only child, and these acts of beauty and self-care that I shared with my mom gave us the incredible bond we still have today. I currently have a two-year-old daughter, and I can’t wait for the day when we can get our nails done together or sit side by side at the hair salon.

photo of dory zayas, her mom, and daughter

These days, my mom lives in Maine (I live in New York), and although we can’t go to the salon together, I still try to keep her in the know by sending her skincare and makeup products to try. As an editor, I get sent samples to test, and I love including my mom in that process. We love to chat on the phone or FaceTime about our new favorite products, and I appreciate her being my “tester” for new launches since I no longer work in an office.

Years ago, after a particularly long stretch of my mom neglecting her hair color, I found a salon close to her house and set up an appointment with a new colorist. She and Kimi have seen each other ever since.

One of the rituals I missed most during the pandemic was getting my hair color done. As my naturally dirty blonde hair grew out longer and longer, I started looking more and more like my brunette mother. Although we aren’t geographically close enough to get a weekly manicure or go to the salon together, I do think that self-care and hair are things that bond us to this day, and I can’t wait to share that bond with my daughter as well.

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