Far from the images of the shag pile carpet from the 70s, Shag Salon transcends a cultural flashback and brings a warehouse of fresh ideas and thinking to the Newcastle salon landscape. From education to client service, Shag takes nuances from the speakeasy bar concept and brings it to hair. INSTYLE chats to Alana Williamson and Grace Kelly about their unique salon identity.

What was your inspiration behind the design of the salon?

Everyone wants to stand out and inspiration for standing out was to create a ‘speak easy’ style salon. A unassuming laneway with a single door leading to our Nirvana.

What key materials did you use and choose as features in the process?

We are obsessed with tiles, texture and creating the optimum sensory overload! One of our dramatic elements is the Emerald green subway tiles with a handmade finish and pink grout – yes, pink! Pink to match our walls. The property is built with cinder block walls and we had to give new life to this look with pastel pink paint. Having an urban feel with an inviting touch of colour was important in such a large space. Clean lines clashed with industrial lux, velvets , black on pink on green! You have to see Shag to feel it.

How would you describe the salon aesthetic?

Palm Springs meets Malibu Barbies Dream House.

If you could change one thing about the salon what would it be? Let there be light!

We would go overboard with windows, and a new shop façade to let all the light in!

What was the biggest challenge throughout the process?

Budget! As any salon owner would know, getting water and lighting to a property to sufficiently operate a salon is a mammoth task. We turned a mechanic’s shed into a luxe hair salon. The biggest costs are in the invisible things! Turning a 20 mill pipe into a 100mill pipe and digging for a gradient fall makes the fitout process take on a completely new dimension – we aren’t just hairdressers.

What salons or designs do you look up to in the industry?

Valonz is incredible! The design, feel, the music played, the secrecy of upstairs! There is nothing more exciting then intrigue. The unique feel of the bespoke wallpaper, hand painted murals creates instant chemistry between you and the space.

How many staff work at Shag and what is the size of the space?

Including ourselves we have a tight team of 10. Our salon has 15 stations, a waiting table for 8 and 6 basins and a total floor space of 210sqm

If money were no object in the salon what would you do differently?

Oh for the love of money! A glass facade, again to capture the natural light, and a 10 m x 10 m gold chain curtain to smoke screen the basin area.

How long were you planning the salon design and is the end result what you originally envisaged or did it change along the way?

This was our second salon fit out. The first was a typical shop of 50sqm and the minute we completed it we started dreaming of the next. We always envisaged a ‘warehouse’ ‘speak easy’ salon. It was two years of dreaming and eight weeks in the making – it was a whirlwind. It literally came to life before our eyes. It is exactly what we dreamed of. It’s incredible how 1 million Pinterest photos turn your dream into a reality!

Who have you chosen to be partners from a brand perspective in the salon and why?

We are proud Matrix colour groupies. The brand makes business easy with its performance and value. We are also soon to launch the retail brand ANTI, a brand that aligns with our edge, values and vision for the future in hair. We are a baby salon with a big picture. We keep it tight and close to home… for now!

What three key elements make Shag salon unique?

Let’s be real… we are! The heart of Shag depends on the relationships between the team and us, the team and our clients and our clients and us. Doing great hair is a given. We pride ourselves on our trade but are nothing without the relationships to complement those skills. Developing an education arm of our business enables us to give pathways to ourselves in business, our staff for their future and emerge ourselves into the industry on a larger scale. We run our salon and team like the mafia. Our credibility, word and integrity is do or die – minus the crime!

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