Best Of

Best Hair Salon

The Studio

click to enlarge Best Hair Salon
Alexandra Rae Photo
The Studio provides a personal touch, down to the pink and black walls.

On Howard Street, a splash of pink stands out among the line of brick buildings. Inside is a multi-talented staff that provides a range of services, including trendy nail art, sleek hairstyles, gorgeous lash extensions and everything in between. This is the Studio, where a mission of inclusivity invites clients to come as they are.

"We focus so much on building a friendship with our clients instead of a business relationship," says Kaylee Sanchez, co-owner of the Studio. "It's not a business transaction."

Along with an emphasis on relationships with clients, the Studio's staff focuses on uplifting one another, as well as other professionals within the beauty industry. Sanchez and co-owner Marianne Watts make this clear by selling retail lash products to independent makeup artists not associated with the salon.

"We couldn't thrive if we didn't play really well as a team," says Watts. "When people vote for the Studio, they're voting for all these women together."

Before launching the Studio, Watts and Sanchez worked together at another salon. When Watts, an esthetician who "grew up with a brush in her hand," wanted to start her own studio, she invited the fresh beauty school graduate Sanchez along for the ride. That was nearly seven years ago.

"Marianne is more the motivational person, and I'm the analytics person that's like, 'Here's the math on this, and this is what makes sense,'" Sanchez says.

After their initial four-person studio off Freya Street grew in popularity, the duo decided it was time to expand. In September 2020, they found the 4,500-square-foot building that now houses their business. With just $3,500 to spare, they knew they'd have to work for it.

Watts recounts hectic days and sleepless nights when she and Sanchez would do lashes at the Freya location, buy paint with their earnings, then go to their building on Howard and paint until two in the morning. The next day? Rinse and repeat.

"We painted every one of these poles," she said. "We learned how to drill into brick. Just two girls that did hair and makeup built it from the ground up."

The pink and black paint on the walls, the plush furniture, and even the foliage adorning the awning was implemented by the pair. They use the same can-do attitude to run their business.

"This entire business is fueled by passion, not money," Watts said. "They say fake it till you make it. We truly didn't have to because we love and care that much."

2nd PLACE: House of POp
3rd PLACE: Oasis Hair

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