MBH Client Feature: Sawyer Johnson

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There’s so much we could say about Sawyer. But, we’ll stick to the fact that they are one of our very favorite clients at Midwest Beauty House. Whether it’s just to say a quick “hello”, to share a fun story or a special moment, or to get a fresh and funky cut, Sawyer makes us smile each and every time they enter our little beauty shop. A true Madisonian inside and out, Sawyer is the epitome of the word “friend”.

Meet Sawyer:

Why did you start coming to Midwest Beauty House?

“I had a not-so-great experience at another salon when I moved to Madison two years ago—it’s always hard to get affirming haircuts as a trans person, and hairdressers often don’t understand what I want unless I’m very clear—and sometimes, that means awkward and hard conversations. I stumbled across MBH walking through the neighborhood, loved the pale pink and purple glow, and made an appointment—and Miss Robyn asked what kind of hair I was looking for, something more masculine or feminine. I’ve felt authentic at MBH ever since.”

What is your favorite MBH beauty shop memory?

“In the chair with Miss Alice, we once found ourselves in a deep, authentic conversation about our similar upbringings—and for me, some of the ways that upbringing has informed how I work with young people, which is transparently, compassionately, and fiercely. It was one of those conversations where you glance at the clock and suddenly an hour has passed, and you know you’ve accessed someone else’s humanity in that moment. It’s a special power both Alice and Robyn possess—being immensely talented hair stylists and relationship builders.”

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What do you love most about your hair?

“I love my tail! It’s the perfect grungy, cutesy feature, and I can’t wait to see how long and gross it gets. The early 90’s are back, y’all.”

What is your current style icon/inspiration or favorite role model?

“I’m into style icons who also mess with gender—and who understand their fashion to be a tool of liberation & pair it with other radical organizing. I’m also embarrassed to say that I follow model Willy Cartier—AKA Frank Ocean’s ex and a man who rocks jewelry and flowy florals.”

What do you love most about Madison/the Midwest?

“I love the sense of community in Madison! When I moved here from Minneapolis, I was surprised to see my people left and right (and almost a little unnerved!). But now I love walking into the grocery store or passing by MBH on the corner and stopping in to say hello. It feels like I have family wherever I go in Madison.”

What is another favorite local business of yours?

CocoaBean SkinCare! Black/queer/trans owned body butters & other beauty products. I smell amazing and am so soft!”

Why is receiving beauty services important to you?

“Receiving beauty services is a way for me to take care of my body, AKA the vessel that takes me through so much of my day, from advocating for LGBTQ+ young people to demanding that police be removed from Madison public schools to weightlifting and the demands it places on my body. It’s an important, gentle thing I do for myself—to allow someone else to create a beautiful hairstyle for me.”

What does “better beauty culture” mean to you?

“‘Better beauty culture’ means everyone has access to self-determination on how they want to decorate their bodies, regardless of gendered expectations or capitalist ideals of beauty. I want huge, expansive ideas of beauty that make room for what’s traditionally been considered ugly—I find power in what mainstream society considers ugly. Better beauty culture, and the ambassadors of it like Alice and Robyn, make space for the ugly to become beautiful, or to remain ugly and become powerful.”

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Alice Ezrow