When edgy Chop Shop stylist Shannon Bailey-Puller—she snips like a sculptor, and has studied with scissor wizard Nick Arrojo—met her husband Bill 10 years ago, he was starting barber school, and she wanted out of a marketing job. They bonded over hair chat—quickly, Shannon decided to go to cosmetology school, and move in with Bill.
At night, the two would trade details from their day’s hair lessons—all very romantic, until they decided to sit down in their kitchen and trade homemade cuts.
“Bill got so pissed because I wasn’t doing it the way he wanted; he shaved it off,” Shannon says. “When I asked him to do my highlights and color, because he wanted to learn, [he acknowledged] it’s hard. He realized he didn’t want to do women’s hair, and I didn’t want to do clipper cuts on a man!”
The cutters’ story gets cuter: Today, Shannon, 35, styles and colors at Chop Shop in Lauraville, while Bill trims men’s hair directly downstairs in his basement storefront, Blue Spark, named for a song by the punk band X. (His long-standing clientele consists of affluent business men, edgy rockers, and blue-collar guys.)
“Any guy can come, and Bill makes men look better,” Shannon says. “Bill’s personality is laidback and easy to talk to. He can talk your head off. He can debate you, too.”
Shannon says both she and Bill have strong people skills, equal to their skill with hair.
“Reading somebody verbally and reading their physical body language, it’s all part of the [haircutting] experience,” she says. “You have to ask the right questions. I always ask, ‘What do you do for a living? Do you wash and go? Do you spend time with your hair?’ You don’t want to give a high-maintenance cut to a person who doesn’t want to be high-maintenance stylist.”
Though the two remain enthusiastic about their careers, they try not to linger on shoptalk at home. Now and again, though, during the workday, Shannon does pop downstairs to say hello and survey her husband’s handy work.
“Bill is a master clipper cutter, and I’ll go sit and watch him work just because I still like to watch what he does, because he has a different skill than I do,” she says.
The next big step in coupledom for the two could be a joint shop for men’s and women’s hair, but if they decide to make this leap, Shannon votes for another upstairs/downstairs arrangement.
“I love my husband to death but if I had to work beside him I think I’d kill him!”
Chop Shop 4321 Harford Road (410) 426-2300
Blue Spark 4321 Harford Road (410) 444-1110