Delia Martins, whose vision has been severely diminished as a result of detached retinas in both of her eyes, continues to cut and style hair at her salon in Georgetown Market Place. She is shown here styling the hair of her regular client Isabelle Farrimond. Martins cuts hair by feel now, using her fingers to precisely measure lengths. She also colours and perms hair as well.
Delia Martins often used to joke that she could cut hair in her sleep, not knowing that one day she would be putting that remark to the test. While she is not sleeping on the job, the 41-year-old Georgetown hairstylist's vision is so diminished after both of her retinas detached that all she can see is light and shadows. But that has not stopped her from continuing with the hairstyling career she has loved for the past 26 years. "I do it by feel, by wisdom," says Martins, the owner of Pro Hair Design in Georgetown Market Place, recently as she styled the hair of her regular client Isabelle Farrimond. "It's all about thinking more, using your left brain more." She says with new clients she has to get up a little more close and personal than she did when she had her sight. "I have to feel your nose, feel your face, see if you have high cheekbones. I've got to touch you and feel you." Her cuts are very precise, and she relies solely on measurements she does with her hands. She doesn't do just cuts and styling, she also does full colour and highlights. Martins says she knows where all the different colours are located on the shelf in the salon, but relies on her "eyes" (her assistants) to ensure she has made the selection she wanted to, then mixes her own colours. She also does perms, roller sets and cuts men's hair. "I custom create. They (my clients) trust me." She says she also teaches hairstyling in her salon.
Martins could still see well after the retina in her left eye detached 15 years ago, but that all changed in 2004 when she says the retina in her right eye detached. "I wanted to commit suicide," says Martins. She continued to own the salon, but did not work for two years and spent her days at home "very depressed." But after watching an episode of the Dr. Phil show, Martins decided it was time to get over the depression and get back to work. She says her clients urged her to come back, so she did this past September. "My customers gave me a second chance," she says. She says those that have come back to her are amazed at the job she does on their hair. "People have come out of here crying. They say I do a better job than people who can see," says Martins. Farrimond says she has been coming to Martins for six years to have her hair cut and styled. "I'm very happy. They are very good cuts," says Farrimond. Treena Benyon is another client who was happy to see Martins back in the salon. "She's fabulous," says Benyon. "She's just as good as she was (before she lost her sight)." She wasn't hesitant at all to give Martins a try after she returned to work. She says she doesn't notice much difference in the cuts now compared to when Martins used to cut her hair, except now Benyon says Martins "moves her whole body" while cutting. Darlene Ballantyne, another client of Martins, admits she was a little hesitant to have her do her hair, but she's glad she did. "She just amazed me," says Ballantyne. "She streaked my hair and cut my hair. She did it with no problem, no mistakes. "She did a fantastic job. I came out of there with the best haircut and best style. She was great." Seeing someone overcome the challenges Martins faces was inspiring, she says. "I came out of there with a different feeling about life," she says.