Australian hairstylist Tabatha Coffey recently released a memoir entitled It's Not Really About the Hair. After completing a successful season three of her Bravo reality show Tabatha's Salon Takeover, snips away problems every day. Nunn on One had a little Coffey talk at Tabatha's hotel one afternoon.
Windy City Times: Hi, Tabatha. What are you in town for?
Tabatha Coffey: I am in town for America's Beauty Show. It is one of the biggest shows at the convention center. Tonight I have a book signing at Barnes and Noble.
Windy City Times: How did the hair show go?
Tabatha Coffey: It was good. It was crazy with the number of people there. It's positive that people are flying in to go to a hair show. It means that things are definitely getting better economically.
Windy City Times: Have you gotten to do anything fun while you are in town?
Tabatha Coffey: Not a damn thing. I haven't eaten in two days.
Windy City Times: What?!?
Tabatha Coffey: I swear I have not had a morsel of food. It has been crazy hours. I love Chicago and they have really good restaurants. I have missed out on all of the fun.
Windy City Times: You work really hard, when do you have time for yourself?
Tabatha Coffey: Honestly, I don't know. I am hoping to find some. But I have none planned as of yet.
Windy City Times: I notice you have a Blackberry and an iPhone that are going at the same time.
Tabatha Coffey: Yes, it is crazy.
Windy City Times: You are doing a fourth season of your show?
Tabatha Coffey: Hopefully…
Windy City Times: I heard some buzz. [Laughs] It is entertaining as ever.
Tabatha Coffey: Thank you. I think this third season was good. It is evolving really well. Part of it I am sure is just doing it a few times. I love that every salon is a little different so it shows people with different business problems that happen. We tackled some interesting things this past season.
Windy City Times: There are always crazier salons out there!
Tabatha Coffey: I know. It's amazing isn't it? Just when you think it can't be topped, it trumps itself.
Windy City Times: Your show applies to so many businesses. I worked at a restaurant that was failing and I wish you could have come in and whipped it into shape.
Tabatha Coffey: Honestly that is the thing that I like about it because business is business. I think that the principals of business, especially customer service, are really applicable whether it be a restaurant, clothing store or a bakery. I think that is what people like about the show. They can see themselves in someone or they can see one of their business problems in the salon. Actually in Atlanta at a book-signing a couple of days ago, a lawyer came and said, "Thank you. You gave me the balls to fire someone I needed to fire from my firm by watching the show." I love that it affects all these other people.
Windy City Times: It's "Not Really About the Hair," like the book says. You dedicated it to your mother. Was she able to read parts of it?
Tabatha Coffey: No. She didn't get to read any of the book. She knew I was writing it. Sadly, no, by the time I got the time I got the galleys to show her some tangible solid evidence she had already passed away.
Windy City Times: I didn't know about your weight issues or being bullied until reading it.
Tabatha Coffey: That is what I wanted to do. I was prompted to write the book for my fans. I truly have such great fans. They write to me all the time and ask me questions but it was never about hair. Everyone expects people to ask me hair questions but they questions about firing someone or coming out. "I am struggling with standing up for my myself. Why are you so confident?" With all these different questions I wanted to share things that were important in my life or life changing situations that happened to me. Hopefully people can take away something that makes them feel empowered or feel better about themselves.
Windy City Times: It is very relatable. When did you have time to write it?
Tabatha Coffey: I wrote it during filming of season three. It was write it whenever I could. I would finish at the salon and then go back to my hotel room. Sometimes I would sit there until two o'clock in the morning then send it back out to the publisher.
Windy City Times: You took back the word "bitch" by spelling out and identifying it with powerful words such as "brave," "intelligent," "tenacious," "creative" and "honest."
Tabatha Coffey: The reason I did it was because that started in Shear Genius for me. Everyone called me a bitch. I would go to the mall and people would say, "You are that bitch on that hairdressing show." It was an amazing thing that everything that I read had bitch to it. I kept thinking, "I was not a bitch. I was honest." I stood up for what I believed in during the situations that I was in. I was in a competitive environment and people were doing crazy things. I was sticking up for myself. That is not being a bitch. That is just being honest. That was when I first came up with the acronym. I was so sick of the negativity. It was ridiculous. I kept writing bitch on a piece of paper. That is what it is to me. It is all of those things.
Windy City Times: I am going to do that with the F-word.
Tabatha Coffey: [Laughs] Fabulous, Unique, Creative and then you get stuck on the K!
Windy City Times: What do you want people to get out of the book?
Tabatha Coffey: I want them to get to know me a little bit better. I really want people to feel empowered from it. I don't think it is gender related. There are so many words that people use that are derogatory or people feel bad about saying what is on their mind. People struggle with weight problems or coming out so being able to talk about it and say I did it too and this is what I learned from that.
Windy City Times: Your mother had issues with you coming out.
Tabatha Coffey: I would never have expected it. Anyone that reads the book would never expect it because of how I grew up.
Windy City Times: A parent may be around gay people but when it is his or her child it is different.
Tabatha Coffey: It is. I am glad we worked it out later in life especially when she got sick, but when it is your own child it is different. You have an expectation and I am the only girl. I know she wanted the children and the wedding. I also know that part of it was that she did see these people that we grew up with that really struggled. They were treated like crap sometimes. There were gay bashings and suicides. She didn't want that. No one wants that for their child.
Windy City Times: I didn't see any pictures of your partner in the book. Do you keep that private?
Tabatha Coffey: Yes. I didn't put any in there and I didn't mention her name. The reason I didn't is because we have been together so long and I really respect and appreciate my relationship. I love that I can go home and there is no craziness that ensues sometimes. She is incredibly supportive but quiet. Just because I have chosen this I don't want to drag her into it because she would not be comfortable with it. I will give everyone everything but that personal thing I keep for me.
Windy City Times: Will you ever grow your hair out?
Tabatha Coffey: No! You have seen some of the pictures in the book. I tried. I don't have good hair. It's baby-fine and super-straight. It just hangs. It could be a little longer but then it gets so flat that when I blow dry it I look like a cross between Barbara Bush and Miss Piggy!
Windy City Times: How much of Salon Takeover is your idea?
Tabatha Coffey: I was co-executive producer.
Windy City Times: So you were very hands-on.
Tabatha Coffey: Yes, we have a production team but every day I am there with meetings, at the crack of dawn when the crew arrives and go through what is happening. We don't plan it because you can't. There is no setup in my show. You don't know what is going to happen until a shampoo bottle goes across the salon or a client gets up and is chased through the parking lot! Those things just organically happen.
Windy City Times: Do you want people to reach out to you if they need a takeover?
Tabatha Coffey: There is a website people can go to, www.tabathacasting.com, or my personal website, tabathacoffey.com . It is all linked there. A lot of the people Facebook me; that is how we get many salons. Also, coming to things like this [helps]. You don't know how many business cards I have right now! I always keep them in hopes that we will have a next season.
The fourth season of Tabatha's Salon Takeover was just announced. For the premiere check back on www.bravotv.com .