Moving forward at a steady clip

Shear delight. Defining Moments salon owner Jason Evans works with regular client Mary Guterson at his shop on Bainbridge Island. Evans tried many different careers before finding his calling; with hair, he says, everything clicked.  -
Shear delight. Defining Moments salon owner Jason Evans works with regular client Mary Guterson at his shop on Bainbridge Island. Evans tried many different careers before finding his calling; with hair, he says, everything clicked.
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Jason Evans operates his business on a simple principle:

“I believe in taking care of the customer, because without the customer, I am nobody.”

Evans only emerged from beauty school in 2004. But one wouldn’t guess it from the established feel of Defining Moments, the Tormey Lane salon that he opened with his life and business partner, Daniel Antonelli, last November.

His career before that was, as he puts it, a journey.

“I get these ideas – I call it collecting eggs in a basket,” Evans said. “I collect these eggs that are the ideas of what I’d like to do.”

The Wilmington, N.C. native began in the theater, making a living as an entertainer on cruise ships. Along the way he enrolled in a community cake-decorating class, which led to culinary school and work as a bona fide pastry chef.

He did pastry jobs off and on for years, every so often pausing to “pick a new egg,” or in one case being blind-sided by one. After moving to the Seattle area, he found himself crossing the Evergreen Point floating bridge between Bellevue and Seattle one day, when a plane flew low overhead. It was like a light went off, he said.

So he pursued a career as a flight attendant, which was okay until the day a flight he was working from Flint, Mich. had to make an emergency landing.

He recalls coping surprisingly well under pressure, guiding passengers and remaining on the plane until everyone else had safely exited. But upon reflection, he realized two things: he was a homebody, and he was fundamentally scared of flying.

“It just clicked,” he said. “You are so on the wrong path.”

Although Evans yearned for stability, other paths didn’t lead anywhere better. At one point, inspired by Antonelli’s successful career as a medical technologist, he even enrolled in dental school. The aspect of helping people appealed; the reality of cleaning out their mouths didn’t.

And then, beauty school.

“It took me until 33 to pull that out of the basket. And it just clicked,” he said. “More than anything I’d ever done.”

Evans found that all the skills he’d picked up along the way applied in his new work. He enjoyed the service aspect of the job; he liked the social aspect of interacting with customers, and he was able to put all his attention to detail into play. Hair color, he said, could complete any package. Cutting, “from an artistic standpoint, gives me my jollies.”

“What makes it all worth it to me, is when someone comes through that door, and they’re bedraggled, their self-esteem has been kicked in the dirt – to see them leave, they’re brighter,” he said. “Their outlook has changed because they feel good about the way they look.”

And yet.

“If you had told me a year ago that I’d be opening a salon, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy,’” he said. “I didn’t have the interest.”

But after working on Bainbridge since 2006 – he and Antonelli live in Poulsbo, and he’d worked in Seattle before that – he got the sense that island women were interested in more options, both in the level of customer care and the setting. He, too, was ready for more options.

“The only way to be true to myself and to provide what I wanted to the community was to provide my own business,” he said.

There was also the sense that many Bainbridge and Kitsap residents share, that folks who live over here should be able to work over here.

So, he and Antonelli formulated the Defining Moments salon space as a blend of sophistication and small-town familiarity. In many settings, urban or not, Evans had observed that hair design is about “the stylists and their artistry (or) that trip they’re going on’s not about taking care of that individual in their seat. I’m trying to change what people have come to expect in our industry in the salon environment.”

He’s amazed himself with the effort.

“Along with the customer service aspect, I’m also what I would like to think is a new beginning in what people would like to think of in a hairdresser,” he said. “I’ve never been in a salon that feels like this one.”

Business is buzzing, so far. He sees six to nine clients per day, five days per week, and tries to keep hours that accommodate those who are on the island during the day and who commute. The community has been generous so far, but he also believes his success is earned.

“Consumers should refuse mediocrity and go for the best, and that’s what I want to provide in my own way,” he said.

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