Before the move to Philly that changed her life, before her recovery from addiction, and even before she got serious about astrology, Colleen Dixon had a vision.
“I was at beauty school in Pittsburgh and I could see myself someday being a talk-show host and interviewing clients while I did their hair," she says from her home in West Chester. “That dream stayed in the back of my head, even when all I had was two trash bags full of clothes.”
More recently, Dixon realized that conversations with her clients at the Capriotti Salon Experience in Narberth, as well as exchanges with followers on social media, were often taking on a confessional quality known to anyone who’s ever confided in a stylist, a therapist or, for that matter, a bartender. After more than a decade as a salon professional helping people be happier with how they look, Dixon sees helping people to become happier, or at least less unhappy, as a logical next step.
“I like to talk, and I like talking to people who like to talk,” explains the 32-year-old mother of two. “Everyone has a story.”
Dixon began to think of and eventually brand herself as The Hair Healer ― skilled not only in cutting and coloring, but in discussing personal challenges, spiritual yearnings, and self-help principles. She enrolled in an online course focused on astrology’s ancient roots.
She thought of doing YouTube videos but decided to try making her own podcasts, an increasingly popular form of digital and downloadable content that somewhat resembles talk radio and is widely available online. After months of preparation that included buying equipment and hiring an audio editor, Dixon dropped the first episode of The Hair Healer podcast (thehairhealer1111.podbean.com) in January. It was recorded around the color table at Capriotti’s, after hours.
Hey everyone and welcome to the Hair Healer podcast. I’m your host, Colleen the Hair Healer, and invite you to embark with me on a journey of exchanging energy and creating conversation.
Since that debut interview with longtime client and friend David Wurtzel — a former firefighter whose nonprofit, the First Twenty (thefirsttwenty.org), assists first responders — Dixon has produced another 30 episodes. She’s also done a ‘Quarantine Series’ that focuses on how people are coping with coronavirus restrictions.
Dixon selects the guests from among her many clients and friends. So far, the podcasts have featured conversations with a medical marijuana guru, a sacred chant master, a magician, a casino marketing professional, and the “part-owner of an underground/alt-rock magazine” in Philadelphia. Most of the guests are local, although the magician/mentalist lives in Los Angeles and others have included a Jersey City music producer and an Australian singer-songwriter.
“I have never put so much work into something and put it out there to be ridiculed and reviewed and rated,” she says. “That part is a little bit unnerving.”
Dixon needn’t worry; her podcasts are expansive but intimate, and meander agreeably across subjects such as online dating disappointments, struggles with bipolar disorder, and, in one instance, what it’s like driving a DeLorean around Narberth. There’s a lot of talk about astrology, energy, and ‘journeys’ of all sorts. And Dixon — affable, garrulous, and a good listener — presides over the proceedings with a voice that invites others to speak freely about difficult or unusual subjects.
“I want to help people find the truth in themselves and not be afraid to live it,” she says. “I have this ability to get very neat stuff out of people. I instantly kind of know who I’m going to vibe with, or not vibe with. During almost every single episode of my podcast, the person I’m talking to will say they never said before what they’ve said to me."
Candor helps. “I’m 100% an open book,” Dixon says. “I want to be raw and real so I can help someone else.” She describes herself as a party girl who grew up near Johnstown, “smoked my first Newport 100 at 11,” moved to Pittsburgh, became addicted to drugs, and squandered a $50,000 inheritance on heroin before moving home to her mother’s in suburban Philly.
“I was living in Wayne with my mom and going to 12-step meetings," says Dixon. "I went to meetings to look for men — and I ended up finding my entire life, which is a beautiful thing.”
The honest sharing and nonjudgmental listening that are a hallmark of recovery programs blend well with spiritual, meditative, and self-help practices widely popular (and often, parodied) in America and elsewhere. Dixon brings to the table an earthy sensibility and a distinctive personality she describes as “six feet tall and bigger-than-life.”
To Wurtzel, being the first guest on the Hair Healer podcast was a natural. “I met her because she was cutting my kids’ hair,” he says. “I would sit in the chair next to her and start talking. What pulled me in was her authenticity. Immediately, you feel like you’ve known her forever.”
Or as Capriotti’s owner Anthony Ordele puts it: “I’ve had many talented people working in my salons, but never someone in astrology or podcasting. Colleen has this intuitive nature, and it opens up a whole world of connections with people. She has what I would consider natural ability; certain people just are gifted.”
Meanwhile, Dixon is jazzed about hair healing.
“It’s so liberating,” she says. "Each time I do an episode I feel like I’m living my dream. Living my passion.
“So the future of the Hair Healer is, this is going to take off. Someday, I’m going to be doing this on a live talk show. And it’s going to be big.”