Kamas, Utah — Not that it’s a contest, but Rebecka Gautney is probably more of a local than you. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Gautney moved to Park City in 1986, right after high school. The plan was to cut hair. She had long been working informally as a hairstylist, cutting all her friends’ hair in high school, and had zero question bout what she would do next.
“My job is incredibly rewarding. If I could, I’d do it and not get paid,” Gautney said. “It’s really not work. It’s fun and it’s creative.”
Decades later, she has worked – and lived – all over town, moving with salons when they relocated, changing jobs when new opportunities arose.
“In this business, people know you and would be happy to have you,” she said of her occasional professional moves when a salon would close, for example.
Now at Lit Park East in neighboring Kamas, she is still at it, and as happy as ever, though she admits the physical toll on the body of standing up all day long can’t go on forever.
“I’m gonna do it until I can’t do it anymore,” she said.
In her early years, she attended what was then called beauty school and began her career assisting in the salon at Vie Retreat on Main Street. Now, she cherishes friendships formed with her clients, and the “raw conversation” she gets to have with people as she rocks their worlds by changing their hair.
“I get paid to make people beautiful but I’m really a therapist,” she said, explaining that her days often run an emotional and psychological gamut from great joy to deep sorrow and everything in between as she talks to clients and learns about what’s going on in their lives.
Gautney, who is divorced and has three adult children and two grandchildren, loves life outside of work too. She’s a bit of a Deadhead, and still adores live music in all genres (in non-Covid times). She also skis, cross-country skis, mountain bikes, and loves road-tripping and camping.
As a longtime local, her views on Park City’s growth are diplomatic: While increased traffic and packed-out trails are too crowded for her taste, she appreciates that the population growth has benefited many businesses, including hers. The pandemic has not slowed her business down in the slightest, she said, though she does work limited hours and only in a setting with a strict cap on number of people in the salon at one time.
After 34 years cutting and styling hair, “I kind of feel like I’m 34,” she said.
Maybe the secret to everlasting youth lies in loving what you do all day?