By Paula Redmann
Photo Credit: Jill Ackerman, Director, Mission Advancement, Annunciation Monastery
You could say styling hair is in Tina Bakke’s roots.
Born into a large, hard-working and faith driven family in Dickinson, North Dakota, Tina was the fifth of the 11 Dvorak girls to choose hairstyling as a profession. Some of her sisters did their last up-do and hung up their aprons in retirement, but Tina, 30 years after finishing her education, still cuts, colors, and curls for her clients at Trends by Tina in Bismarck.
But, each Thursday, Tina goes off site from her usual workstation to another place of employment. She packs up a bag of beauty with the number one tool of her trade — her shears — and heads south of Bismarck just beyond the University of Mary, (a place dear to Tina’s heart, since husband, Art, and daughter and son-in-law Alexis and Kellen Tibor are all UMary grads).
Tina’s destination is Annunciation Monastery. It’s time to style the sisters.
Tina accepted a position as the monastery hair stylist late last summer. She didn’t have to spend a lot of time in making her decision.
“I just thought it would be a wonderful experience. How nice to be able to meet and visit with these strong women of faith,” Tina says.
Faith comes first on styling day.
“There’s Mass at 8:30 a.m., so when that’s over, my work begins,” Tina explains. “I’m ready for a full morning of cutting, styling, and smiling.”
Sister Eleanor Stockert does the schedule of shampoo sets, cuts, and perms for a few of the older sisters at the monastery. For the next few hours, Tina’s chair becomes a rotating blur of cutting, drying, and rolling.
“Oh, yes,” Tina says. “I haven’t used brush rollers since beauty school, but I work with a few of the older sisters and that’s what they prefer, so that’s what I use.”
A good stylist knows what her customers want.
It’s hard to say who enjoys the back and forth teasing more, Tina or the sisters. Sister Eleanor laments her own head of very fine hair. Tina offers to give the sister some of her own. A pause, and then, a thought from Sister Eleanor, “Oh, but I don’t want that color.”
In between shampoos, sets, and cuts, when a sister is under the dryer, there’s time for a quick break for Tina and several sisters to enjoy coffee and treats. That’s where the stories begin.
“I get to sit at the table and listen to amazing experiences about their lives. I learn about their families, the work that they’ve done at the University of Mary or in hospitals and schools in North Dakota. They are so dedicated and faithful. They remind me of the importance of faith. They are all sweet, appreciative, and grateful for everyone and everything around them. Not only do they make me giggle, they inspire me,” Tina says. “I’m so blessed to know them.”
The feeling is mutual. The sisters enjoy Tina’s company as well as her skills.
“I like having Tina here at the monastery. She fits in well with our sisters. I have to say, I get a lot of compliments on my hair. Tina gives really good cuts and she knows how to style,” Sister Madonna Wagendorf says.
Sister Eleanor says Tina is very kind, and she appreciates Tina’s weekly trips to the monastery. The sisters view Tina as a “house call” hair stylist.
“It’s wonderful that she comes to the monastery to do hair as some of our sisters are older and it can be a challenge to get them to town for haircuts. I am really happy she’s here. There is just something special about her,” Sister Eleanor says.
Sister Elizabeth Novy, at age 102, is the last remaining founder of Annunciation Monastery, and tells Tina that she receives many compliments on her hair. Tina knows how to cut Sister Elizabeth’s bangs and bob hairdo just right.
Sister Joseph also likes Tina’s hair talents.
“I should pay you,” she says.
When Tina reassured her that her services are already covered, Sister Joseph replied, “Well, then I will pray for you.”
Tina says receiving prayers works just fine for her.
“I leave each week with happy tears,” she says.
Paula Redmann is the Community Relations Manager for Bismarck Parks and Recreation District. She married her high school sweetheart, Tom. They have two grown sons Alex and Max.