Apr 232008
Authors: Shayna Grajo

When Kazim Tercan left his family and home in Ankara, Turkey, 10 years ago to immigrate to the U.S., he came with more than the $100 in his pocket. He brought the taste of European flair that would infiltrate hairstyles in Fort Collins.

Traces of the European essence are linked to Tuana Hair Design on College Avenue and Laurel Street, the quaint hair salon that Tercan has owned and operated since 2001. Tercan’s sheers have reached ample tresses through the years, trimming and sculpting hairstyles for the CSU Fashion Show and other hair shows in Northern Colorado.

These days, Tercan is content to tend to students and other customers that pass through Tuana’s doors for a fresh summer cut. European training, Tercan said, allows him to positively impact hairstyles and lifestyles for the better. He said he takes a fierce pride in his handiwork, fashioning practices after a Turkish proverb: “Whatever you do with your hands, do with your heart.”

Kazim Tercan and each of his siblings — Layla, Ergun and Murcat — embrace careers in the fashion industry and practice European hairstyling at all three Tuana locations, which are family-owned. With studios in Turkey, Fort Collins and Denver, the family looks to prolong the nostalgia and techniques learned from growing up in a salon.

After Saturday’s final client left Tercan, he explained the factors that distinguish Tuana from other Fort Collins salons, boiling it down to European sensibility.

A European Salon

Stylists like Tercan aren’t found just anywhere. In his middle-age, Tercan’s long, curly black locks frame a tanned and grizzly visage. He speaks in a rascally, deepened accent, in a sort of rhythmic cadence that draws a punch to certain words. His eyes punch, similarly, when expressing enthusiasm for a given topic.

The hairstyling techniques at Tuana can’t be found just anywhere either. Anyone can enter the studio, receive treatments and leave European.

“Our European way of doing things is a lot different,” said Brittany Sowers, a stylist who has been with Tuana for two years.

Diverse techniques range beyond simple cutting and coloring, the stylists said. Dry cutting, razor cutting, color and foiling techniques, and consultations are all performed the way Tercan was trained in Europe. As an example, an apprentice at Tuana said she once saw Tercan flip a head upside-down to cut layers.

All stylists and apprentices at Tuana tout the method of European blow-dry styling. Once hair is cut, the hair is styled with Turkish-imported round brushes and a blow dryer only, without the use of flat irons or curling irons. The premise behind this method is that blow-dry styling protects hair from the damage of “frying” hair with hot irons.

“The blow dry styling is an art that Kazim teaches us,” said Jacob Pacheco, an apprentice that began working at Tuana in December. “No salon offered in this town does blow-dry styling the way Tuana does.”

Tuana also utilizes the “threading” method, replacing facial waxing on because the technique protects skin damage. Rather than waxing eyebrows, Tercan weaves plain cloth threads between his fingers to remove stray facial hairs. The method originated in ancient Persia, Tercan said, for women who were superstitious about placing products on the face. Few salons in Colorado offer the threading technique, which is said to be less painful than waxing and commonly found across Europe.

Tercan and his crew see that styling details lead to intended — and sometimes dramatic — effects.

“I love challenging people’s look,” Tercan said. “When they need a change, they come to me.”

Tuana offers a menu featuring highlights, up-dos, European extensions and Japanese straightening in addition to cuts and styling. In hastened cadence, Tercan said he gives all clients, even conservative clients, what they want: fun, sexy, stylish, contemporary, different, messy, elegant, chic and wild styles, and everything in between.

Even the beverages offered at Tuana come straight from Turkey. Tercan frequents the Nazar Market in Denver, an international store, to purchase Turkish coffee for clients.

A European Education

What makes a European salon is all in the education, Tercan said.

“Education is important, especially here,” Tercan said. “Hairstylists here in the U.S., they take it a little too simple.”

Tuana employees gain opportunities for continuing education studies through different organizations. Intercoiffure — a selective, invite-only international hairstyling association — has recognized Tercan as a member. Tercan is one of only four Intercoiffure stylists in Colorado.

Through Intercoiffure, the Tuana team members can attend a different convention every three months.

Last year, Tuana stylists visited New York and met hairstyling guru Vidal Sassoon. Tuana is also sponsored by Bumble and Bumble, an upscale product retailer that is distributed in salons approved by the company. In 2007, the Tuana team traveled outside the state four times under the sponsorships of Intercoiffure and Bumble and Bumble.

Tuana’s values of education are patterned after Tercan’s unique European education. Before ever hitting the salon floor to cut hair, Tercan completed five years of basic training.

Starting at 17, Tercan attended a government school equivalent to college for three years of the five. This school specialized in cosmetology vocations; students were expected to complete core classes, classes in hairstyling, and part-time work in a salon.

It was mandatory for Tercan to join the Turkish army during his schooling. After spending three months in basic soldier training, he finished his year with the army working part-time as a hairstylist on the army base, where he cut hair for generals and their wives.

To conclude basic training, Tercan participated in a two-year apprenticeship in Paris. During his apprenticeship, Tercan frequently found cheap round-trip flights to nearby countries for hair shows, conferences and hands-on training. He traveled as often as some CSU students take ski trips.

In all Tercan’s travels, he would style hair in Paris, Germany, Amsterdam, Italy, Spain and Turkey. Tercan finally would help his sister open the first Tuana Hair Design salon in 1994 in Ankara, Turkey. To this day, Layla Tercan heads the salon.

Outlook and Future

The word ‘Tuana’ is old Turkish, translating to “beautiful.” Tercan said many can view a hair salon as a business, hairstyling as a job. But Tercan cherishes work every day, he said, finding beauty in building relationships and catering his craft to fulfill the desires of clients.

“If you do something very creative, that is going to make a lot of people happy,” Tercan said. “The world will be better, because you’re doing it with your heart.”

Tercan said he looks to continue a career in hairstyling for many years to come, with the long-term goal of creating his own hairstyling academy to continue his facilitation and training of new employees.

In the short term, Tuana will boost its European conversion facility by expanding the Fort Collins location. Renovations on the 1100 square foot expansion are expected to be complete by fall or over the summer. The remodeling will increase the styling stations from five chairs to 10 chairs, featuring a high ceiling, added sunlight and storage.

Tercan said the commitment to his ideals and his European education has helped him see the vision of beauty through which his dreams have come true — dreams that were built from a 100-dollar bill and a good cup of Turkish coffee.

“If you do hair, you’ve got to be passionate,” Tercan said. “You have to have a vision.”

Staff writer Shayna Grajo can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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