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caption: Deanna Teasley stands in the doorway of Lawtiwa Barbersalon in downtown Burien, Washington.
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Deanna Teasley stands in the doorway of Lawtiwa Barbersalon in downtown Burien, Washington.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Missing 'lawtiwa' in the time of the pandemic

A barbersalon owner in Burien mourns the loss of casual physical contact with clients and friends. But she's found a way to adapt.

Voices of the Pandemic features people in the Seattle area sharing what they've learned during the pandemic, in their own words.

My name is Deanna Teasley. And the name of my salon is Lawtiwa Barbersalon. "Lawtiwa" means “friend” in the Nez Perce language.

I’m a Nez Perce Indian. And when we decided what we were going to name it, I was thinking about that I wanted it to be about friends, family, community.

I have clients that I've had since I just got out of beauty school. Which has been almost 20 years now. And you get to watch each other go through things in life, marriage, divorce, children, who's cheating on somebody else. I mean, they tell you everything and then you just keep it in the vault. It's not for anybody else.

This is a place where they can feel comfortable.

And there's something about when you touch somebody. I can't even really explain it. It's just a tenderness that that you share between each other and you're also giving them a great haircut, a great color, whatever. But I'm also getting something too.

There's another person that I worked with here and it's Caroline. Caroline's a stylist, a barber stylist. She is my best friend. I'd go to blows for her.

About a month, maybe three weeks a month before the pandemic, we went to New Orleans together for Mardi Gras. And we danced in the street. I mean, we were we were partying; it was so much fun.

caption: Deanna Teasley and her friend and co-worker Caroline at Mardis Gras in New Orleans. They're holding a photo of their friend Demetrius, who died shorty before the trip (the cause was not COVID).
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Deanna Teasley and her friend and co-worker Caroline at Mardis Gras in New Orleans. They're holding a photo of their friend Demetrius, who died shorty before the trip (the cause was not COVID).
Credit: courtesy of Deanna Teasley

In the spring, when the pandemic hit and Gov. Jay Inslee started the stay-at-home order, and we had to close.

Through the shutdown, I watched all of Governor Jay Inslee’s press conferences. I would come and visit my shop just to check on it. And I would walk in here and it was just lifeless, you know, like sadness.

I was missing my Lawtiwa -- my friends, my sense of community and my best friend, Caroline.

You know, I saw her from afar. I saw her from her balcony. One day at Fred Meyer, I went shopping with her because she was having such a low point.

And when I saw her I couldn't even hug her. That was really hard. Because I knew that she was struggling.

So eventually, in the beginning of June, we were allowed to reopen.

caption: Deanna Teasley sits for a socially distanced interview while the reporter asks questions from the doorway
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Deanna Teasley sits for a socially distanced interview while the reporter asks questions from the doorway
Credit: KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols


Caroline is not working here right now because it isn't safe right now. Because her station is in the back and she would have to walk by me with her clients every time.

We don't get to work together, Caroline and I, but we decided to be in each other's COVID circles because we are part of each other's family.

caption: Deanna and Caroline in New Orleans before the pandemic
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Deanna and Caroline in New Orleans before the pandemic
Credit: Deanna Teasley

To have my best friend back in my life after a break makes it easier because we have each other to lean on.

Hear other stories from our Voices of the Pandemic series here.

Music in this piece by Alec Cowan and Kyle McEvoy.

Do you have a personal story about living with the pandemic that you'd like to share? Contact KUOW reporter Joshua McNichols at jmcnichols@kuow.org.