Kerri Daly

Kerri Daly has been in the beauty business for eight years. She began working in a beauty-supply store to earn money to put herself through college and ended up with a career instead. Now, after working for six years at an Island salon, Kerri Daly has gone out on her own.
The name of the new business is Hair Affair, and it’s tucked into the pine and scrub oaks at the end of a curving dirt driveway off the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road in Edgartown. The salon, found on the second floor of a new, shingled building, is an airy place with framed mirrors and two work stations. Kerri leases her space from the owner, Gretchen Wean, a friend who lives just across the way and works with Kerri in the salon doing manicures and facials. It’s a small business that started out just this past summer, and it faces a competitive market, but Kerri Daly, who is twenty-seven years old, thinks she can make it.
Until she moved to the Vineyard six years ago, Kerri’s career in the hair and makeup world followed a pretty straightforward path. She apprenticed for a year at an upscale salon in Amherst, New Hampshire, and then attended the Artistic School of Cosmetology and Manicuring in Nashua. A help-wanted ad in the Boston Globe said a salon on Martha’s Vineyard was looking for a full-time hair stylist and Kerri thought that sounded like fun. With her mom, she came to the Island on a July 4 weekend to apply for the job and arrange housing. Neither knew what to expect on the Vineyard July 4, and to the both of them, the crowds and the hoopla were “terrifying.”
Kerri rented a bedroom in what she calls a “sorority house” in Oak Bluffs. The homeowner rented as many rooms as possible to female college-age Island workers. It was supposed to be temporary housing, but Kerri lived in that room for two years. The sorority-house life was fine except at the start of the weekend: Kerri had to wake up early on Saturday mornings for wedding preparations, so she always went to bed early on Friday nights and tried, despite the revelry going on outside her door, to get a good night’s sleep.
Wedding preparation was, and will be, one of Kerri’s main occupations as a stylist on Martha’s Vineyard. The Vineyard is the number wedding destination in the eastern half of the United States – and frequently called number two in the country, after Las Vegas.
Just as there are rituals to the ceremony itself, there are rituals to getting ready for it. The preparation of a bride’s hair is usually done as an “out call,” with the stylist going to the home or hotel room of the bride. There the stylist often will handle the hairdos of the 
entire bridal party as well as the bride herself.
Kerri never does a wedding without a prior consultation with the bride-to-be. This helps to get everyone on the same page, both stylistically and realistically. Kerri loves it when the bride brings pictures or magazine clippings showing how she’d like her hair to look on her big day. Meg Ryan’s hair is the most frequently requested. Kerri is an expert in the updo and – though she tells the bride to choose what makes her most happy – will try to help steer her to the most flattering choice. The only problem Kerri faces on a recurring basis: mothers. If necessary, Kerri will ask the mom to wait outside until the consultation is over.
Come to think of it, says Kerri, there is almost always one other difficult person in the wedding party. She remembers “the matron of honor from hell,” a woman whom Kerri suspects might have been jealous of her best friend, the bride. The matron had curly hair and was dissatisfied with every style the hairstylist gave her: up, down, straightened, braided, you name it. Finally the woman rewashed her hair and settled on “some sort of curly updo.”
Brides get nervous before the big moment, Kerri says. They either go talkative or very quiet. Kerri calms the bride by asking her to tell the story of how she met her fiancé, or how he proposed. Kerri, who is single, always asks the bride, “How did you know he was the right guy for you?” The bride 
always answers that she “just knew.”
At first Kerri was fearful that clients wouldn’t follow her to her new venue, but 80 percent of them did, and now she has about two hundred. Kerri hopes someday to open her own day spa – “a nice little spot in Edgartown with parking.” It will have a massage therapist, an aesthetician, two nail technicians, and two hair stylists – a place “people can go and escape” the day-to-day pressures of life. For now, whenever she meets people outside of work and they find out what she does, they inevitably ask her the same question: “What would you do with my hair?” Kerri grins and says, “Here’s my card. Come in and we’ll discuss it.”