I was contacted a few weeks ago by another young Santa representative (and by young, I mean younger than 60 years of age as that seems to be around the average age most representatives start working in malls etc.). This man had a decade or so of service to the red suit under his belt and was needing some help in styling a traditional beard set.
I spoke of the Jr. Claus Workshop TBS series and how they may help him style his pieces and grow to love styling them to get the look he wanted. He declined and instead asked if he could send his piece my way and I could do it (while he covered costs). Of course I said that was acceptable and we exchanged information.
In talking with him further I discovered that there was one factor that was keeping him from bluing and styling his own set: fear. That was it. The only reason for sending pieces my way was fear. And I believe that to be a good reason.
There are many times in life when we don't know what to expect when we try something knew. If our previous experiences have taught us anything it is to be wary of things that didn't end up well before. In the case of this fellow red-suit ambassador, it was just that. He hadn't had the best of experiences when it came to trying things on his own with one of his previous pieces. As such, he was a little gun-shy at trying styling by himself but had seen photos and knew I could probably get close to the look he wanted.
Even then, it wasn't his fear of bluing and styling, it had to do with adhesive. If I remember correctly, his first beard he bought was a bit expensive but he hadn't been given instruction on how to clean out the liquid adhesive he'd used on the lace so it destroyed his piece in the long run (this is one of the many reasons I am an advocate for wig tape). But his ignorance in how to clean the lace had spilled over into any subject that his traditional pieces may be involved in, such as bluing and styling.
I assured him the videos on the Jr. Claus Workshop showed my exact process for washing, bluing, and styling traditional/designer pieces. And his pieces would be in no more danger if he did it than if I did it. He still was more comfortable with me doing all of those steps, and so I awaited his pieces to arrive.
It does not take very long to get a style right, but it does take a while to style as you've got to wash, let the piece air dry, comb it out so nothing's tangled, and then can you start the process of adding curls and making the beard/pieces look the way you like. The thing is, I only have one set of rollers so this process takes a few hours (put on a Christmas movie in the back).
I sent photos his way of the process and if he was alright with the style etc. and we worked through some things that way. His pieces left much whiter and with a much fresher style than they had arrived in. I also included a thank you card for allowing me to help him while he also hired me for my time, skills, and products used for his pieces.
I have done this for a few other Santa representatives as well. I don't feel that I know much, but I am comfortable in what I know works. I've experimented on some old pieces and found what has worked and what doesn't work for both the yak and human hair beards I have. If some other person sees photos or a video of what I have done and says, "I'd like that!" I am more than happy to assist that Santa to look much better than he would wearing pieces straight out of the box, or perhaps a set that has lost its style and fluffiness from constant use.
I think there's a misconception that I do what I do for a paycheck. Though it helps, my personal mission isn't about the funds. My personal mission is to help other Santa representatives look, act, and become better prepared for representing Santa Claus. I grew up with too many disappointments to idly stand by and let things continue as they have been. Too often was the magic ruined as I looked for simple proof of the real Santa. Anything false or of a poor quality affected the credibility of these men. I really do this for the children.
But are all children like me? No. Will many toddlers and others notice the small details? No. The goal is to help the children believe for as long as they can.
The only reason a child should have for not believing in Santa Claus should come from their parents, not from you, as it is their responsibility.
And it is by that belief I hold strongly to.
I may not be able to get the word out or work one on one with other new Santas to let them know what I've learned starting out, and hold their hand as I show them affordable assets and online resources that will help them learn so much more, but I can create a place where video instruction and other quality assets are readily available for those who are willing and wanting to learn. I can manage and produce content for the Jr. Claus Workshop.
Interestingly enough, I have yet to go to any established Santa School or orientation, the things that are contained on this site I've organized from advice and personal experiences. There are so many tricks I have yet to learn and so many things I do not fully understand, but I want to keep making videos for those who desire to learn more.
There have been many supporters of the site who have been doing this for decades and they have seen some value in what I have to offer, and I am so grateful for their kindness (though I have a feeling the video assets and digital backdrops have helped entreat their patronage).
I have already started the brainstorming and scripting process for Season 02 which will begin production at the end of January (fingers crossed). The additional episodes will share what I have learned this past year and hopefully be something to look forward to for many of you.
I felt much like the apostle Paul when King Agrippa said to him, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." when I had explained my process to this Santa representative and he said, "You almost make me feel like I could do this." All in all, no matter what area you may be have trouble in when it comes to Santa Claus, I'm just here to lend a hand.
Yours as always,