Even if you’ve never met Byron Shemroske, if you’ve gotten your hair cut in Louisiana, there’s a good chance that he directly affected the way your style looks. That’s because Byron sharpens shears for us at Paris Parker, as well as many salons. It’s his latest stop in a stylist career that spans more than three decades—and whether he was working behind the chair, as a salon owner, educator, or as a traveling shears sharpener, he says he’s had fun every day of his career.
“It’s been exciting and fulfilling,” says Byron, who first crossed paths with Paris Parker in the mid-1990s when we bought his salon for our Mandeville location. Though he was no longer owner, he continued to work with us, because he was learning so much.
“[When Paris Parker bought my salon], it took me to the next level that I’d been trying to reach and having a hard time doing on my own,” he says. “And it wasn’t monetary—it was about learning the craft, and Paris Parker’s avenue for education. That was what I needed, but I didn’t know how to get there, and I didn’t know it was from a lack of exposure.”
Byron’s path toward becoming an Aveda-educated stylist was more circuitous than most. Born in Biloxi, Mississippi and raised in New Orleans, he served in the Navy and worked in the oil field as an electrician before going to beauty school. If that seems like a drastic change of scenery, that’s because it was.
“I was looking for something more exciting and to work for myself,” Byron says. “I went from being around all these macho men, into an area they didn’t understand. After I became a hairdresser, I got to rip them, because I was working in air conditioning around beautiful women all day, while they were out in an oil field. It was sweet revenge.”
Byron says his career took off “like a rocket ship” once he started working with Paris Parker. He worked as an educator, but even his vast storehouse of knowledge wasn’t enough to save him from his worst moment behind the chair. He was trimming a client’s bangs and thought he had his texturizing shears in hand—but it turned out the scissors were straight edge.
“I cut the woman’s bangs off, and as they were flying from her head, the words came out of my mouth: “Oh, s**t,’” he says. “Everyone came and looked. It was pretty tragic. They were maybe an inch long.”
Every morning for the next month, the client came to the salon and Byron styled her hair for free to conceal her ruined bangs. That sounds like a lot of work, but Byron insists, “You’ve got to stand behind what you do.”
Even though there have been some painful lessons, Byron’s experiences and education as a stylist come in handy with the hundreds of salons who employ him to sharpen their shears. If you’ve spent any time around stylists, you’ve probably seen at least one with scissors tattooed somewhere on their body–which is a clue about how intimate the relationship is between stylist and shears.
“A pair of shears needs to be an extension of their hands and feel like a part of their body,” Byron explains. “They’re probably the most important tool a stylist has. Someone who sharpens shears can do a good job, or really mess them up. Knowing the pros and cons from a stylist’s point of view is key.”
Byron credits Paris Parker for giving him the knowledge to excel in what is both a craft and an art for him. “My father was an artist in the French Quarter, and my art came out in hair, not on paper,” he says. “Paris Parker gave me one big, all-around experience of learning, growth and guidance. It was not just about the hair, but the personal and spiritual growth I got from dealing with people. It was a good thing.”