CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Hairdresser Talisha Huddleston has vowed to give her 300 soldier clients free haircuts for Christmas with help from the community.
"I thought, 'What could be better than getting free haircuts for Christmas?' I think it would be just completely awesome," Huddleston said. "I know they go for leave maybe the week before Christmas. So, it would be cool to be able to be able to give them those haircuts then."
Huddleston moved to Clarksville in late 2020 from Nashville, where she had been a hairdresser for more than a decade.
"My husband passed away, which was devastating for me. And I kept feeling an emptiness like I needed to move. I needed to move and see something else," Huddleston said.
Soon after the move with her teenage children, she opened Talisha's Salon Spa across the street from Fort Campbell. Within a year, her business grew to 500 clients, 300 of whom are U.S. soldiers based at Fort Campbell.
"So, one by one, they come find me. And we give them cool haircuts so that they can have that sense of identity when they go home and actually take the uniform off. It's very important," Huddleston said. "So with that being said, I try to offer monthly different things for them. For example, when they go to the field, they come back, they've got dirt, grime, mud everywhere on them. So, I offer a free complimentary shampoo for them that they can receive at any time."
Soldiers must keep their hair a certain length, meaning they need to get their hair cut more frequently.
"Some come every week. Some come every two weeks," Huddleston said.
Her haircuts for soldiers are $27, but she's hoping to work towards making haircuts for U.S. soldiers completely free following her Christmas cuts program.
"I would love to do this at other military bases. Not just be for them here in Fort Campbell, but there's other bases that soldiers need the same type of care," she said. "That's my goal, what I'd like to see happen. I want to be able to travel to different ones and offer this."
Cliff Blade is an Army soldier based at Fort Campbell and one of the 300 clients who choose to get their hair cut off of the base.
"I think that trust that you build when you first meet someone, especially if they provide a great service, and if they're kind, it's absolutely something that you want," Blade said. "I think that once you establish that relationship, you just don't want to break it,"
Huddleston said she is honored to provide stylish cuts for soldiers within the military's specifications and hopes to show the power of a fresh haircut.
"When we think of military, we think of, you know, superhero almost. But they're looking at you and they'll say, 'No, I'm just, I'm just a man. I'm just a man. I get up every day, like you guys do. And we go do our job. And we serve our country,'" Huddleston said. "Literally, they just want to be just like us. So when we get to wear cool haircuts, they want one too."
This story was originally published by Claire Kopsky on Scripps station WTVF in Nashville.