Thomas Frable is a senior stylist at Alexander’s Salon & Spa, Scranton. A city native, he is a graduate of Scranton High School and Empire Beauty School. He was voted best stylist in the 2016 Electric City readers’ poll. He and his boyfriend, Allan, live in Scranton.
You’ve been a hair stylist for almost 10 years. When did you first realize it was something you wanted to do?
Probably around age 23 or 24. I realized I had to go to school for something. After high school, I just worked a series of jobs. I figured a trade, instead of going to college, would be better. And then when I really sat down to think about it, I realized I wanted to do hair or design, and hair just came more naturally to me. I had either cut my own hair, or people would ask me advice about their hair. It just seemed to be something that fit into my life throughout my life, but I had just never acknowledged it.
Do you work with both male and female clients?
Both. And I’d say it’s pretty 50/50. Short hair styles for men and pixies for women were the first thing that came naturally to me, and then everything kind of came after that. I do pretty much everything, from short to long hair cuts, to colors, hair extensions, color techniques, updos, eyebrows. … I don’t really do anything beyond hair, except for waxing. I don’t do makeup or nails.
What do you enjoy the most about the work?
Being one-on-one with the person. Making them feel comfortable, like they can trust me to help achieve whatever it is that they’re looking for and to help get them that confidence for themselves. I just enjoy communicating and just trying to put the puzzle pieces together, of what they’re asking, and figuring out what it actually means for them. And when people say, “I love it,” or just to see their body language, or they just smile and say “thank you” … you’re just kind of connecting with the person.
Some people seem to enjoy the conversations they have with their stylists just as much as the haircuts. And some stylists really seem to know a lot about their clients’ lives.
Yeah. For sure. You’re essentially somebody’s bartender/therapist at the same time. (Laughs) Anybody can cut your hair, but I like to think that a lot of people come to me for me. Not to say that in an egotistic way, but I like to make people feel comfortable.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m very much like a cat in that I like to lay around and keep to myself for the most part. But at the same time, I’m active. I like to run. I usually just do half marathons. I don’t go above that. Otherwise, it takes too much training, and I like to lay around. (Laughs) To be social and go out, I generally like places like Trax or POSH. Or anywhere with family or friends.
Do you have any hobbies? Are you a collector?
“Animal Crossing” Amiibo cards for Nintendo. I’m like a large child with those, and I play to de-stress and decompress. There’s a series of about 450 cards, and I probably have about 390 of them. I never had a collection or anything like that growing up, so as an adult, I needed to fill that. It just makes me happy, and it’s something simple.
Who are some of your favorite musical artists?
My range is all over the place. Anything that sounds good. I loved the Rolling Stones in high school, and I saw them when I was 23. Tegan and Sara, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Cake. It mostly just depends on the environment and what mood I’m in.
New York. It’s close. And it seems like it’s the center of the universe. It has everything going on. You can just pick a part of town and get lost in it.
Favorite vacation spot?
So far, of the places I’ve been, I’d say Aruba. “One happy island.” Perfect weather. It was never too hot. There was always a breeze. Everybody was chilled. It was a really nice place.
Favorite thing about NEPA?
It’s home. And I like that it’s close to New York. And you can even do a day trip to the beach. A lot of my closest friends are either here, or they’ve moved to Philadelphia. This is home, but it’s not too far to get there or anywhere.
Mexican and Brazilian.
All-time favorite movie?
Favorite TV show?
“The Golden Girls.”
Have you had a defining personal moment?
More recently, my relationship with Allan has really helped push me in a more positive direction. But looking back, I didn’t come out until I was 21 or 22, and oddly enough, I came out to my family first. My dad, who I thought I’d tell last, ended up being the first person. And then I told my mom. And then I kept it to myself for a little bit longer. And then, after my 22nd birthday, a friend helped me really come out. And it’s one of those things where you feel like, “Yes. Finally.” But then it’s like, “Who am I?” So that’s when a lot of serious thinking comes into play. It’s like, “OK. I can change my life. I can head in the right direction to be happy for myself.” And I think that’s when the career choice came into play. There was something to focus on. And build upon.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
photos by emma black