“Why me? I just serve fish.”
That was one of the first things Melissa Parker said to me when I interviewed her about the makeover. Not that there’s anything wrong with just serving fish, or maybe it’s that no one “just serves fish.” Everyone has a story, and it’s always the people who don’t know how special they are who are the most special.
Pink’s owner, Elizabeth Millen, noticed Melissa at Poseidon, where she’s been serving fish since the summer of 2015. “She was just so nice and so hard working. Such an understated beauty, not wearing any makeup and her hair long as day, I thought she’d be the perfect canvas. I knew the results would be dramatic and it would be fun. So I asked if she’d like to be part of our makeover.”
Melissa said she wasn’t sure at first. It was the encouragement of her co-workers that convinced her. “You’d be great!” they all said.
We met at Hair Designers, where hairstylist Yulia Michenina excitedly welcomed us both. The first thing Yulia did was take time to get to know Melissa before deciding what to do with her hair. Melissa’s only request was that it be a style that she could wear with little maintenance and minimal prep time. Yulia decided on peek-a-boo highlights—using foils to add highlights just under the top layer of hair, keeping them away from her hairline and natural part so as they grow out, the roots would not be visible.
After coming up with a game plan, Yulia pulled Melissa’s hair back in a ponytail and cut it clean off, at least 12 inches, enough to donate to Locks of Love. Melissa looked a little nervous at first, but as soon as she heard that it was going to be donated, she was thrilled.
My favorite thing about covering the makeover is getting to hear people’s stories, so I asked Yulia about her accent. She’s from Russia. Next thing I know, the woman who “just serves fish,” is speaking Russian, and they are laughing.
“Wait! What? You speak Russian?” I asked.
It turns out Melissa speaks seven different languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Arabic and Russian. Growing up in New York, she was learning Spanish in kindergarten and French in middle school. Her mom, who is from an Italian family, also speaks French.
This woman who “just serves fish” also has a Ph.D. in political science, more specifically, European politics, and she spent years living and traveling abroad as she worked on her dissertation. She reflected on the travels saying, “You only get one life, and I just want to experience as much as I can. Immersion is the best way to understand a culture.”
So, you’re probably wondering, like I was, how she ended up in Hilton Head. After a stressful career, one that was taking its physical toll, Melissa came to the island seeking a better pace of life. “Did you find what you were looking for?” I asked.
“I’m still here,” she said. We talked about the goodness of life living in a vacation destination. Only people who’ve struggled in highly stressful job environments can appreciate risking financial security for peace and happiness.
After Yulia washed out the hair color, Diane Cook, certified cosmetologist, applied Melissa’s makeup. Using Aveda products, she began by applying a tinted moisturizer to smooth out her skin tone before applying a light mineral foundation. After discussing the overall look with Yulia, this dynamo duo decided on a 40’s flair that would be dramatic for pictures, yet casual enough to go to the grocery store. Diane applied strip lashes followed by eyeshadow. Her tip for the day, “Start light on the eyelids and then add more.” Then she applied lip conditioner and color.
Next it was back to Yulia for a final cut and style, using a curling iron to create waves to frame Melissa’s face.
Lastly, we were off to Palmettoes, located in The Shops at Sea Pines Center, where proprietors Dennis Jaworski and Chuck Hall added the final makeover touches with the perfect 40’s inspired black, fringe, lace dress by Julia Jordan, a freshwater, tricolor pearl bracelet by Roberta Sherr and a sheer, black, silk shawl by Shawlsmith of London.
Usually when doing the makeover, I look for a scenic outdoor spot for after pictures, but the grand piano and giant vase of white tulips in Palmettoes seemed the perfect touch of elegance to complete Melissa’s look. From canvas to masterpiece, this free-spirited, down-to-earth, all-around cool woman, won all our hearts with her sense of adventure and fun personality.
Special thanks to:
Hair Designers: Where Yulia Michenina is willing to listen and find the perfect cut, color and style to match your lifestyle, and Diane Cook will complete your new look by applying makeup to perfection, and even teach you how to glue on strip lashes (for those of us who need a little help). Located in Village at Wexford, Hilton Head Island, call to book your appointment today: 843-686-4247. To learn more visit: www.thehairdesigners.net.
Palmettoes: Visit Dennis Jaworski and Chuck Hall at Palmettoes where you will find fine apparel and accessories for fun-loving men and women. Located at The Shops at Sea Pines Center, 71 Lighthouse Rd., Ste. 414, Hilton Head Island. 843-363-6800.