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Nov 29, 2023

At Home With Julie Parsley, Hairdresser

Amy Bartlett

Photography By

“I’m here in the Lowcountry to raise the bar, break rules, connect with people and disconnect them from what’s keeping them stuck in old styles,” she said.

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There’s a reason why Julie Parsley, life-time career artist of hair and style, specifically refers to herself as a “hairdresser.” She considers herself a sort of dressmaker/designer who works with the “fabric” of hair. This is why her clients never see themselves as simply getting their hair cut but gaining a personalized designer creation that’s perfectly runway ready.

Julie Parsley (right) sits in her cozy and artistic home with client Pamela Mode (left).

With where she’s been and what she has accomplished over the past 35+ years, Parsley is less about turning out cookie-cutter cuts and more about cutting in line to create current, edgy, and innovative styles.

“When people come to me, they’re ready for something new,” she said, introducing her ideal client. “If you’re happy with a dated style, I’m probably not your gal, and that’s okay. I’m not the perfect fit for everyone. But if you’ve been wondering what your hair could be like and want to see what’s possible, have a seat and let’s take a look.”

Parsley says this, knowing that the look speaks volumes. It’s her walking calling card. “I know my name and reputation are worked into your hair, and I take that seriously. I start with taking in the whole canvas—the head shape, face shape—and begin to drape the fabric of the hair and see how it falls, how it moves,” she said, explaining that she doesn’t just cut blunt or with traditional layers but cuts “inside the hair,” and therefore styles 100 percent on dry hair.

A life-long career woman, Parsley has always known her brand. “I figured out early who I was, what I liked, and what I was here to do. I didn’t even have dolls. I had Barbies because Barbies were adults I could style, and I knew that’s where I thrived.”

This innate ability got her noticed and scouted by Paul Mitchell for her skill and potential for influencing others. “What I do, I can teach others,” she said, “but you have to have the eye to begin with.”

Parsley was naturally gifted with that sense of style and artistry, which she painstakingly worked into a notable career with a recognizable roster of salons, training platforms, and profiles in print publications. She spent several decades as a salon and spa owner/operator and nearly half the years on her résumé as a platform artist and educator with John Paul Mitchell Systems.

Parsley is one who pours her aesthetic and creativity into every element of who (and where) she is. It’s a je ne sais quoi that you can see in everything she puts her hand to including each carefully curated room of her artful home in Bluffton, in her personal sense of style and fashion, and in each client’s customized, creative, and well-balanced form.

Balance is a word she uses frequently about her art. “When I design hair, I’m not going for even, I’m going for balance,” she said, pairing two words others might think are similar, but not to Parsley. “It’s not about matching lengths and layers in your hair; it’s about working them together into the perfect balance,” she explained. She dresses your tresses with a decorator’s sense of feng shui.

From the first cut to making the cut in international settings, “Julie Parsley Hairdresser” invests her time and expertise in staying ahead of the game. Having freelanced abroad in London, England and Berlin, Germany, Parsley has continued to push the envelope, pairing her formidable foundation of learned skills with an innovative artistic sensibility that is pure Parsley—exploring current styles and techniques as well as changing culture and aesthetics, a reputation that has landed her in Modern Salon and other national salon magazines.

“All my haircuts have memory,” she said. “You can go in and find the expression your hair is meant to have, what we discovered with the fabric of your hair before, and drape that winning look around you. Or we could create a whole new you. I tell people, ‘You don’t know the half of what your hair could look like until you’ve left.’ I help clients who are on a journey of discovery of finding happiness they didn’t know they could have with their hair—in my chair, and in my care.”

Currently renting a chair and working her magic from the south side of Hilton Head Island at Coco Coiffure Salon, 51 New Orleans Road, Suite 1A, she keeps her client list down to three days a week. “I’m a beach girl,” she said. “Some people golf three days a week. Hairdressing is my passion and my art. I’ve done all the things you can do in this field. I’ve owned salons, I’ve taught internationally. I don’t want to retire; I love what I do, and I love what it does for the people who come to me.”

It’s all about the balance for her though, which is why the other days of the week she can be found seaside, often at Pool Bar Jim’s, striking up conversation or having what she calls “meet-and-greets” over Tito’s and soda.

“I’m here in the Lowcountry to raise the bar, break rules, connect with people and disconnect them from what’s keeping them stuck in old styles,” she said. Asked how her style would be defined in a word or two, she answers without skipping a beat, “Bohemian Collection.” It’s a ‘balance’ of words that makes you look around her home, no matter the room, and understand what she’s created. In her ethereal, cozy-balconied home, she balances ornate antiques (like a set of patina-colored doors from Furniture Solutions 151 on the island) with a complete set of galleried contemporary art, which used to hang in one of her salons, and a faux-fur sofa as steel gray as the Atlantic in December. She knows who she is, and what she can do, and she has built a life on elevating what others believe their hair can do—or what their hair can do for them.  

Julie Parsley works her magic at 51 New Orleans Rd., Suite 1 A, on Hilton Head Island (inside Coco Coiffure Salon). For an appointment or more information, call (304) 677-4968.

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