Zachary Jackson has a sharp memory of New York City.
He was 21 and still a new hairstylist when he got to fly from Vancouver to New York for extra training — training that included cutting hair by straight razor.
“I didn’t cut myself for the first hour, so I felt pretty good,” he says, laughing.
Today, five years later, Jackson is rated by Nar City magazine as one of the top 10 male hairstylists in Vancouver.
It’s a proud moment for Jackson, and for his family in Old Massett.
“To me, it’s wonderful,” says his mother, Selma Yorke, who still gets her own hair cut by him whenever she can — cuts usually start with him saying, “Let’s experiment.”
Yorke said she tried to raise all her children to be independent, and they clearly are.
“When they were younger, they begged me to colour their hair,” she said.
“For a couple years they had red hair, green hair, blue hair…”
In Salon, the Yaletown salon where Jackson now works, not only handles regular clients, but also photo shoots, fashion shows, and a Friday ‘braid bar.’
Coloured and unconventional braids took off the last year or two, and are a hit with men as well as women. Running a braid bar at the Squamish Valley Music Festival was “pretty insane,” said Jackson, and photos of his work are a hit on Instagram.
Jackson grew up in Old Massett, but finished high school in Chilliwack, where he first got into a salon as a part-time receptionist.
It was a big leap to take out a $15,000 student loan for a hairstyling kit and a year at Vancouver’s Blanche Macdonald Centre — a high-end hair school with classes of five or six students.
It was another big step to move alone to big-city Vancouver at 18 and start apprenticing. For a while, Jackson shared a tiny apartment in “Far East” Vancouver and commuted to Kitsilano every day.
“If you love what you do it doesn’t really feel like work,” he said.
Asked if he does any cuts while visiting Haida Gwaii, Jackson laughed.
“I do it, and I love the people I do it for — they’re my family,” he said.
“But it would be super nice to have a vacation.”
As for tips for any young people on Haida Gwaii who are thinking about getting into hairstyling, Jackson said his best advice is not to be afraid of starting out in a city like Vancouver.
“They’re definitely not comparable in the slightest bit whatsoever,” he said.
“Both are beautiful, both are home for me.”