ST. GEORGE — Meet a master stylist who turned life’s knots into curls of success, proving that when you style life on your own terms, every strand holds the potential for magic.

Walker Smith shows off his hair salon, which has been transformed into a garden oasis, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Bentley Southard, St. George News

“I want people to feel like this is your time,” Walker Smith said about his salon. “The world right now is a little hectic so this is your opportunity to kind of take a step back and just relax.”

Smith’s journey into hairstyling traces back to his middle school days, when he was known to give his friends highlights in his bedroom. Growing up on a vibrant daffodil and tulip farm in Washington State infused his life with color and creativity. His favorite part about being a stylist? The creativity, the colors, the precision cutting and the transformative power of a great hairstyle for both appearance and overall sense of well-being.

Be he didn’t dive clippers-first into a career in beauty. His professional life took a detour into merchandise marketing before he joined the military at 24. That marked the beginning of his journey in the medical field, where he embarked on an eight-year tenure as a Medical Laboratory Scientist in the Navy. He then spent another two years working in private and public hospitals.

“It was this whole journey,” Smith said. “But it didn’t fulfill me. I loved doing hair. I was still doing hair in the military. All of our military inspections, all my girl’s friends, like, they would literally look fantastic with extensions and everything.”

Walker Smith specializes in the “lived-in” look, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Bentley Southard, St. George News

Following a divorce in 2019, he decided it was finally time for him to live life for himself and do what made him truly happy. That led to selling his belongings and pursuing his dream of attending hair school. It was finally time for him to do what would make him truly happy. He moved to San Francisco and attended “The Harvard of hair schools” — the Aveda Institute.

After graduation, he and 150 other applicants applied to be part of the French salon Atelier Emmanuel in San Francisco. He was accepted, and that’s where he obtained his advanced knowledge while catapulting his career.

“He taught me everything,” he said about Emmanuel. “We had celebrity clients. Very well-known people. And during the pandemic, it was just insane.”

He moved to St. George two years ago and began teaching at Paul Mitchell before taking a job at a local salon. Ready to have his own space and work for himself, he found the perfect location inside Suite Salons in St. George. He aims to provide the area with more luxury, depth and a personalized touch. He’s known for his expertise in crafting effortlessly chic “lived-in” looks, characterized by natural roots peeking through with a lighter and seamlessly blended appearance.

“Most ‘lived-in’ clients won’t need to see me for about 4 months before we need to move the lightener up,” he said. “It’s a really great look for someone who doesn’t want a ton of maintenance but wants to look expensive.”

He also specializes in blinding, precision cutting, bridal hair and more.

Inspired by a trip to Fiji where he found comfort and peace, he’s designed his salon to feel like a serene garden oasis. Get ready to relax, get pampered and walk out with a fresh new ‘do that’ll leave you feeling like a new you. Clients can expect to receive 24-karat gold eye patches, complimentary snacks and drinks and the opportunity to lounge in a custom-embroidered massage chair. Oh, and talk therapy is included.

Smith credits his success to the challenges he has overcome, believing that these hardships have shaped him into the person he is today. Those hardships started early in his life when he faced extreme bullying for simply being himself.

“I had to switch schools because of the bullying, and since then, I’ve always wanted to prove that who I am is amazing,” he said. “I know I wasn’t broken like people made me feel, but it was the mindset of those people that was broken.”

A client of Walker Smith shows off her hair transformation, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Bentley Southard, St. George News

Smith said being gay in a heavily religious area like St. George has come with its own set of challenges. He’s encountered some pushback, but not all of it has been negative. Clients who sit in his chair now often remark that they wouldn’t have considered doing so just two years ago. While the area is growing in terms of acceptance, there is still a lot to grow on.

“I’m not out there waving the rainbow flag, but I’m also not there putting it away,” he said. “I’m just being 100% myself. And that’s what I want for everyone.”

By staying true to himself, he has unexpectedly found ways to help others. One day, a man walked past his salon multiple times before finally stepping inside and asking to sit in his chair. However, he wasn’t there for a haircut. Instead, he confided that his son had recently come out as gay, and he sought advice on how to be a better, more supportive father.

Walker aims to make a significant impact in Southern Utah by offering advanced education and training for stylists after they have completed cosmetology school. He believes the most crucial education occurs after graduation, in a hands-on environment. On June 2nd, he will host a Master Bridal Class for hair professionals At Leather & Bone Hair Company from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. For those eager to gain insights from his hair career, he accepts assistants and interns who wish to learn.

As for the products in his salon, each one has been meticulously hand-selected to provide optimal benefits for the desert region, with the majority sourced exclusively from Australia.

Discover Walker Smith Hair nestled within Suite Salons at 757 W Telegraph Street, Ste. 25 in St. George. For further details, visit @walkersmithhair on Instagram or schedule your appointment here.

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