Opinion » Alta States

Amanda Stocks — a view from the chair

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Amanda was born in Liverpool. But she didn't get much time to explore her Englishness; her family left Britain when she was two. "I grew up on Vancouver's Northshore," she tells me. "I had two brothers, you know. And so I became a bit of a tomboy." She says she didn't get to see many Disney Princess movies as a child. "No tiaras and ball gowns for me... My dad was more into Bruce Lee and Clint Eastwood. And that had a huge influence on my life. I mean, Clint Eastwood? He's The Man!"

When time came for her to figure out how to make a living, Amanda somehow drifted into hairdressing. But it wasn't at all what she'd expected. "Suddenly I was working with all these women, you know. All these chemicals, these long procedures — I mean you might be stuck working on one woman for four hours! – it was just too much. I couldn't handle it. Somebody told me recently that women put out 6,000 words in a day while men only speak 2,000 words. Whatever... that was just too many words for me."

So doing women's hair was out. But she'd already spent nearly $11,000 on the hairdressing course. What to do? "My mom, Carol, was great," she says. "When I told her I couldn't handle working with women, she suggested I work with men. 'Why don't you become a barber,' Carol said. 'Remember those Clint Eastwood movies? Remember the barber sharpening his straight razor; shaving those tough guys in the bar?' She told me she could see me doing that kind of work."

So could Amanda. "I mean, a guy walks into a barber shop, sits down, and twenty minutes later it's all over..." She can't help it. She has to laugh. "It's just so much easier than dealing with chicks. The guys come in, they laugh at your jokes... and if they think you were actually funny, they'll most likely come back." She lets a couple of beats go by. "Hey, it might not be for everyone, but it works for me."

And Whistler? "Look — I don't ski. At least I don't downhill ski. I just don't like the speed of going down..." She smiles. "But I like snowshoeing and stuff like that."

Hmm. So how did Amanda end up in Whistler in 1994? "Well that's easy," she says. "I was working in Lynn Valley at the time, and I had all these Whistler guys coming in and bitching and moaning that there was no barber shop anywhere in the corridor." She lets a moment pass. "I'd also heard about the girl-to-guy ratio in Whistler." She smiles. Barks out another laugh. "So you know, I put one and one together and..."