Former farmer cut out for hairstyling

It took current stylist Carl Bossini decades before he found his niche in life.

Carl Bossini works on Michelle Reeves’ hair while her son, Cohen, keeps an eye on the proceedings

Carl Bossini works on Michelle Reeves’ hair while her son, Cohen, keeps an eye on the proceedings Photo by Donna Lasater.

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WALLA WALLA — After many different careers, Carl Bossini finally found his true calling. He’s a trained stylist and owns his own business, Carl’s Hair Hut, at 315 N. Fourth Ave.

Before taking up his current vocation he worked as a farmer and a musician, and spent a few years in the Army.

He began farming as a kid with his father, Louie Bossini. He started playing music around the sixth or seventh grade, beginning with drums and then learning the bass guitar. He joined the Army in 1974 and was honorably discharged in 1975.

Afterward, he spent a long time in the music business in the 1970s and ’80s, playing drums and bass. He was a forming member of Tukanon in the late ’70s, in time achieving quite a bit of success.

“We recorded an album and a 45,” he said.

Bossini has also been a member of the bands Big Kids and Lucky Dogs.

Eventually he went back into farming with his father, then farmed on his own after his father retired. But after a while it was time to stop, he said, and he needed a new occupation.

“How I first got into this — God only knows,” he said. “I had farmed for a long time. Everything was changing. There were no more canneries to sell product. I knew I had to do something if I was going to get out of farming. But I was never a good student.”

Going back to school meant facing that past and moving forward. He made a commitment to himself that he was going to get his GED. He took the required classes at Walla Walla Community College and achieved that goal.

“I got that — now what?” he thought.

At WWCC he met with a counselor and looked over programs leading to potential careers.

“I couldn’t even say the word ‘cosmetology,’” he said. “It was a two-year course ... I enrolled, went to my class.”

“When I walked into that class, most of the others were 19 or 20. I was the grandpa. It was so tough fitting in with those people,” he said. He was also the only male in the class.

“Mentally it was a hard course. I had to learn how to study,” Bossini said.

Learning how to study was an achievement of its own, a breakthrough for him, and he got inspired.

“I was so into going to school. If you want something bad enough you can make it through. I learned how to do pedicures, manicures, facials ... I’d go home and spend two hours studying. I ended up on the president’s list,” he said.

After graduating, Bossini passed the hands-on tests for his cosmetology license with flying colors. However, the written exam was more challenging. It was held out of town, in a noisy room. Nervous, he failed the test. He chose another location to take it and simply decided he would go back every day until he passed. It was quiet and he could focus — he passed on the first try.

Bossini worked in various salons for about three years, building up his clientele. Then, almost seven years ago, he heard a historic small building was available and decided open his own business.

“I was scared to death to go on my own,” he said.

He started out doing all types of stylist services, but now focuses on haircuts for men, women and children.

“I don’t deal with the new coming styles, and that’s all right with me. There are so many new trends in color and funky styles. That’s for the younger students,” he said.

“I have a lot of older ladies call me for perms. Because of the arthritis I just can’t roll up those things,” he said.

Bossini enjoys his work, and enjoys interacting with people. He especially loves the stories told by World War II veterans.

“The most fun is talking with all the customers. I get to know what’s going on all over town. You have to be a people person,” he said.

Bossini enjoys his work, but the passing of his older clients is a challenge for him.

“That’s the bad part,” he said. “A lot of the older ones have passed on.”

He considers taking good care of his clients of paramount importance. Some have been coming to him for years — he knows exactly what they want. He’s even made house calls to sick clients to cut their hair.

He spent most of his life not really knowing his calling, but now he’s on his path. He’s found his niche. Business is great, and he is at peace and comfortable with his occupation. For Carl Bossini, it’s about coming into his own.

Karlene Ponti is the U-B specialty publications writer. She can be reached at 509-526-8324 or karleneponti@wwub.com.

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