Meet Sarah James, hair guru. She’s not a stylist, but she’s got good hair. She reviews hair products and suggests hairstyles for people she doesn’t know. She caught the attention of The New York Times and had a kitchen-table chat on the "Rachael Ray” show. She grew up in Oklahoma City.
James’ claim to hair fame is her blog at hairthursday.com, a Web site where mostly women submit pictures of themselves, their hair dilemmas and wants. James suggests two hairstyle options and polls readers for their favorite. The blog has morphed into celebrity hair, tutorials, reviews and videos, as well as the reader dilemma. Hair Thursday got its start when she couldn’t decide whether to cut her bangs. That was about two years ago, when she was writing her personal blog at whoorl.com. She polled readers and was surprised to receive 700 responses. Then readers began asking whether they could send in pictures of themselves. They wanted James’ advice, even though she was no expert. They related to her. She was just an average gal, like them. So, each week she put together a post with two different options on what she thought would look good for a reader’s face and lifestyle. Hair Thursday, a weekly feature on Whoorl, began to grow. Within two months, she had a yearlong waiting list. "I guess there are a lot of people out there who want to talk about their hair,” she said. She had so many that she had to roll Hair Thursday into its own blog. "I had readers come to the Web site solely for hair, and I wanted to move it off my personal blog.” The waiting list now stretches to four years, forcing James to be more selective about whom she features each week. She tries to seek not only interesting problems, but people with hair issues that others might have. "I’ve gone astray from trying to help everyone,” she said. "I cannot help everyone even though I would like to help everyone.” What makes it work, and keeps it real, is that James asks participants questions about their lifestyle and how much time they spend on their hair. If they’ve got five minutes in the morning, she’s doesn’t offer up a style that requires 30. James said about 40 percent of the people she features send pictures afterward, and some of them are striking. Such pictures are important, a point she stresses to participants. "People come here, and they want to see what happens,” she said. hairthursday.com whoorl.com