Ambience, Strawberry Roots and The Hair Shack

This world is full of so many unique, gorgeous places.

Sometimes it feels like a tragedy that some of these nooks we might never encounter.

Some of those places are far away.

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But some are right under our noses …

And completely unexpected.

Imagine booking yourself in for a hair wash and cut at a local hairdressing salon for example.

And the moment you walk in through the door, realising that this is one of the magical places and it was right on your doorstep … underneath your very nose. Suddenly, what could have been just a hair-cut, transforms into a subterranean dip into a pool of pure gorgeousness.

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This is what happened to me recently. Naughty N and Jols recommended that I try the Hair Shack in Ventnor – an airy, oceanic space can be found on the curling road that snakes to the seafront.

The moment I walked through the door, I had the sense that my soul had begun to refuel. Everything from the wooden floorboards, to the carefully and lovingly selected items displayed on reclaimed shelves ….

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… to the simple, organic products (that didn’t dazzle my eyes like in most hairdressers) … everything seemed to sooth me; release; recharge.

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I was shown to the sink, adorned in my gown, sat down and put back my head. With closed eyes I sunk into the atmosphere of vintage, bohemian surf; thoughts lapping gently in my mind. I couldn’t help wondering about the invisible ethos that permeated the atmosphere here. And as Carol Falkner, the owner and chief, massaged a deep nourishing treatment into my hair, a conversation about the roots of the Hair Shack unfolded between us.

“My parents were strawberry growers,” she told me. “We had family in London, but my grandparents lived in Hamble. My grandfather had a shire horse and would ride around the village selling his fruit and vegetables and my great aunt had a fish and chip shop, as well as a nursery in Warsash. When she died my parents married they took over the strawberry section of the nursery. Rather than poly tunnels they used to use traditional glass clotches to grow the strawberries and as children we could often be found building houses in the hay bales.”

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Following this idyllic childhood, Carol told me that she went onto study hairdressing and whilst working in Bridport, at Hair by David, she was sent on a counselling course. This was quite an unusual (and forward thinking) practise in the hairdressing world and it empowered Carol with a new product to support her clients; a product that could not be contained within a bottle or spray.

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“My ethos has developed a lot since then and has influenced the Hair Shack philosophy,” explained Carol. “My way of working is to look at the person as a whole. The moment they walk through the door I am picking up signals from body language, their clothing and how they are holding themselves. All this allows me to work with them holistically, not just with their hair but talking to them. I want people’s experience in my salon that replenishes them on many levels – mind, body and soul.”

Carol went on to say that when women come into a hairdressing salon they often want to talk. They open up. It is a place from them to relax and chat freely. “It’s vital that the Hair Shack girls know the difference between empathy and sympathy,” says Carol. “I want the person who is talking to my customer to be able to offer them a form of listening that they may not get anywhere else.”

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Prior to setting up the Hair Shack, Carol worked for nine years in Bridport, a small town next to Lyme Regis. Here she worked as a self-employed hairdresser with seven others in what sounds like a creative, industrial hot pot. Vintage markets, an artist consortium and innovating businesses were all on her doorstep.

“I loved it there,” smiled Carol fondly. “When we moved to the Isle of Wight we liked Ventnor because it reminded us of Bridport. We wanted, however, to be nearer the family and being on the Devon/Dorset border was just too far away.”

Carol and her partner, Steve, began looking for properties on the IOW and eventually moved here in March 2013. Carol told me how (a woman after my own heart) she uses a lot of visualisation tools and gratitude lists to steer her life and that The Hair Shack, with its gorgeous vintage vibe, beautiful art work, eclectic frames and relaxed atmosphere was exactly what she had created in her mind.

“Our strap line is hairdressing with heart,” she said. “I wanted to create something that was more than simply a hairdresser. I want my customers to come somewhere where the coffee is amazing, they get good honest advise, a relaxed atmosphere and the best organic colour systems available on the island. And that is what, I believe, we have achieved.”

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