Longford business woman Colette Reynolds, proprietor of Hair Square, Longford town
Businesswoman and proprietor of Hair Square in Market Square, Longford town, Colette Reynolds says that International Women’s Day is about dignity.
“March 8 is a good chance to remind the world about the dignity of every woman in our lives, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our friends and as every other day, that’s how I will mark it, chatting to all of them at some stage throughout that day.”
Also read: Celebrating Longford's Inspiring Women #IWD2021 - Shirley Maloney: It is important female voices are heard and respected
To Colette, what does IWD mean? “It means dignity. It means respect. It means good old fashioned “gentlemanly courtesy” which I see so often in my own dad Peter, in how he lives out every single day.
Also read: Celebrating Longford's Inspiring Women #IWD2021 | Ellen Kenny: It’s important to recognise the past to consider the future
“It means including all women regardless of faith, colour of skin, language or nationality. It means gravitating towards those people who help me to feel good about myself and veering away from those who try to diminish me in any way.”
Her advice to women. “So, sisters of the world, I say to you, never let anyone put you down because you are not beautiful enough, because you are not rich enough, because you are not thin enough, because you are not intelligent enough, because you are not tall enough, because you are not educated enough. Because you are not. You are perfect enough, just as you are…”
How will you mark International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8?
Why should this day be any different to any other day for me or for any woman? Every day is women’s day. And. Every day is man’s day too. So I don’t see myself doing anything mad different. I love life. I am blessed with good health. And even in these Covid times I’m just happy to be alive and enjoying every precious moment of it.
So, March 8 is a good chance to remind the world about the dignity of every woman in our lives, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our friends and as every other day, that’s how I will mark it, chatting to all of them at some stage throughout that day.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It means dignity. It means respect. It means good old fashioned “gentlemanly courtesy” which I see so often in my own dad Peter, in how he lives out every single day. It means including all women regardless of faith, colour of skin, language or nationality. It means gravitating towards those people who help me to feel good about myself and veering away from those who try to diminish me in any way.
#ChooseToChallenge is the theme for International Women’s Day - applying the theme to your own life and career, what might it mean to you and what is your view or interpretation on the theme?
I love Michelle Obama. I love Tina Turner. I love Mother Teresa. I love Kamala Harris. I love Lady Gaga. I love Julia Roberts. I love Princess Diana. I love Lily Gilchriest (an early visionary for Longford women in business). I love Amanda Gorman. I love Kate Middleton. I love and am inspired by all those women who search for a way to keep going forward no matter what obstacles they find in their way, and so to me, Choose to Challenge means not to give up, not to throw in the towel, not to walk away but instead to hold my head high (even when others might try to bring me down), to keep pushing on, to reach for the stars, all the while stretching out my helping hand to those I meet along the way who could do with a friend at that moment.
According to the World Economic Forum, gender parity will not be attained for almost a century. Do you agree? Could it be attained sooner? Have you ever suffered at the hands of or know of a family member or friend that has suffered due gender bias?
Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know really, never really thought about it that much, too far ahead for me. I love the idea of living in the now and that's what I try to do hoping that something I might do today might ripple out positively tomorrow.
Gender bias? Again, something I don’t dwell on too much. I just live now and try to treat everyone as I would like to be treated. I try not to waste too much of my precious life time lost in endless discussions about theoretical issues. I just try to live hoping that by doing what I do in the way that I do it, something good might come out of it down the line. I have one life and my time is too precious to be whinging and moaning about what ifs.
Two ladies that have inspired you in your own life and explain why?
Our Lady of Medjugorje. What a powerful story to raise up the people of a downtrodden nation and inspire them to believe in their dignity as human beings. I love going back there to be re-inspired and refreshed for my own journey ahead.
My mother Teresa and my daughter Jane because though they are generations apart with utterly different life paths both have met the challenge and both have kept going. My older sister Mary, who died at birth, because she reminds me how precious is the gift of every new day and I know she is my guardian angel always watching over me and protecting me from danger.
Hair Square is 21 years old this year - what have been the highs and lows over the past 20 years ?
The greatest high is the same as it always has been when I first came to Longford as a 15 year old with a wonderful life mentor in Ron Mullins. From those early days, I came to realise that the highs were not something spectacular or phenomenal, rather, something very simple really. Just trying to bring a little joy, a little comfort, a little happiness to the women and the men who come through my door every day. A heartbroken wife who comes in to me for a few hours the day before her husband’s funeral. A smiling 8 year old child who comes in to cut her beautiful long hair up short for The Rapunzel Foundation. A joyous bride who comes in just hours before she walks down the aisle. So many more privileged moments like them when I try to walk at least some of the way with the person sitting in my chair. Hairdressing, I see now is so much more than “simply doing someone's hair.”
The greatest low. Feeling so let down by those whom I thought were standing beside me when the storms were gathering over my head. A friend is someone who walks in, when the rest of the world walks out. I hope too that I can be that friend to others.
As a lady starting up a business and being in business ; did you hit any gender hurdles or simply, hurdles in general ?
I love the Hair Square Academy especially the Transition Year boys from St Mel’s College who come to us for their hair and hygiene course as part of their TY. They are such fabulous young men, a credit to their school and their parents. I love to see them bursting in the door every week, and such respect, such courtesy. They have taught me how to handle any gender hurdles that might appear in front of me. Respect is a two way thing.
They walk out my door after a session in the salon and I am wrecked so I sit for a while and wonder about each of them. As a mother, I just hope that they manage to stay safe and well from all the cruel pitfalls young people face in the world today.
How have you seen Longford evolve as a town in those two decades ?
We have been beaten down. We have been neglected. We have been marginalised. We have been ridiculed. We have been isolated. We have been held to ransom. We have been scapegoated.We have been on the brink. But, but, but, we are all still out there doing our thing. And you know what, there is nowhere else in the world, I would want to live and work, nowhere!
Three life / career achievements you are proudest of ?
Elton John. I’m still standing, still going after all this time. And hopefully that fighting spirit will inspire my daughter Jane and my son Anthony on their life journeys.
Lady Gaga. Shallow. Still trying to bring a little joy. A little hope. A little light into someone else’s darkness.
Josh Grobin. You raise me up. My faith in God is deepening the older I get (though I gotta tell ya, there are times when he and I need to have words about something that might be happening!)
Covid-19 pandemic - how has it affected your work / life and how are you and your family coping?
Isolated. Cut off. Down. But keep going.
Plans for when lockdown restrictions are lifted ?
No big plans. Just appreciate all over again the simple things in life. How much I already have. How little I actually need. How precious are those who care for me.
Away from the salon and fashion, what are Colette Reynolds’ interests / hobbies in life ?
Health, fitness and wellbeing. I just love my Mbts. As one of my neighbours roared out his car at me recently, slow down or you ll have a speed wobble!
Style , fashion and trends…not some haute couture for some world supermodel who spends zillions on clothes but for ordinary women everywhere who might just like a new summer dress. Hmmm, I wonder what the colour will be this summer???
Travel at home and abroad, especially where there is water. To walk the beach, wind in my hair, sand beneath my feet. waves tickling my toes and the simple things of life. Oh, and an ice cream at the end of it all, bliss!
As a business woman, are you happy with how the Government has handled the Covid-19 pandemic ? If yes or no, outline why ?
I love Dr Holohan and I trust his integrity. We’re all in the same boat and bad as things are for me, there are people who are in worse situations. I feel for all those who have lost someone they love to Covid. That makes me sad so early on I stopped looking at the numbers and just tried to play my part to stay safe.
So the good times are coming again, the end is in sight, the birds are singing. Head up and keep looking forward.
Anything else you would like to include……
Well to all you women out there who might be reading this to celebrate international women’s day, I leave you with the powerful words of my good friend Ed…
I'm dancing in the dark with you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass, listening to our favourite song
When you said you looked a mess, I whispered underneath my breath
But you heard it, darling, you look perfect tonight…
So, sisters of the world, I say to you, never let anyone put you down because you are not beautiful enough, because you are not rich enough, because you are not thin enough, because you are not intelligent enough, because you are not tall enough, because you are not educated enough. Because you are not. You are perfect enough, just as you are…