We’ve been to salons all over the world, thus we’ve experienced the best and wildest amenities known to man at this point. From celeb-driven menus to cocktails at the ready, there isn’t much we haven’t tried in the name of peak beauty. But New York City’s Hairstory studio has given hair all new meaning, with the industry chomping at the bit to get into the hotspot for an appointment. Stylist Wes Sharpton and colorist Roxie Darling combined their visions and out came a bit of magic that rendered itself in something quite simple and rudimentary—an unshakeable connection between how we look on the outside and who we are on the outside. Though our hairstylists are our confidantes, BFFs, and therapists at times, they have truly reignited the emotion and spark that comes with getting your new favorite haircut or color.
“Hairstory began as a project in the financial district about four years ago and at the time I was cutting hair at Cutler salon in Soho,” Sharpton told Mane Addicts. “I would find these great girls on the street and offer them haircuts in exchange for their photograph. We cast girls who we thought were muses and shot them and that’s how it all started. We always called it Hairstory Studio, but at the time we had a product line that was under a different name until we rebranded a year ago.” The studio then moved locations to Flatiron last fall and with the location change came the opening of Hairstory’s doors to all kinds of people and their hair stories.
And “salon” is not how Sharpton or Darling would describe their space. Of how they define themselves, “Of course there’s some private clients, but really we’re a studio that centers around the product line. We’re content creators who are hair-centric and hairdresser centric. So it’s not really so much of a call-a phone-number, book-a-blowdry type of place, but as we move forward, we’re hoping to have all types of hairdressers, colorists, stylists in to come and play with us.” Interest in what Hairstory is doing, talent, fresh ideas, and teamwork is the starter kit to getting your foot in the door at the studio.
At the studio’s foundation is storytelling and the idea that everyone a tale to tell when it comes to their hair. “Oftentimes when you’re dealing with a client, or someone who’s not in the hair industry, their hair stories are typically negative,” Sharpton advised. “I think all hairdressers have had that experience where a client sits down and spills out all the things that they hate about their hair and what’s not working, and our approach is to help them re-write that. We think that everyone’s hair can be a positive story, something they can rely on like the great tailored jacket in your closet that you pull out when you want to feel good about yourself. We think it’s possible to feel good in your hair.” Hairstory’s signature aesthetic is a quite lived-in and natural look, with an emphasis on happiness when their clients choose to make a cut, styling, or color decision. “If it’s a pleasure for you to style your hair then do it. We like to think of things more as options not obligations.”
When it comes to helping their clients find a look they absolutely love, Sharpton and Darling believe hair definitively either hides or enhance’s someone’s features. Sharpton explains his method, “I take the approach of looking at someone and finding what I really like about them.” He continues, “If you like someone’s eyes, or their lips, or cheekbones, it gives you a starting point. Then I ask myself ‘what do I need to eliminate to expose the best thing about them?’ It’s really about identifying what’s great about them and then creating a haircut that helps people to notice that feature.” That might be bangs for example, but ultimately, it’s what really makes that person their most striking and beautiful.
And though Hairstory’s future will always lie within the clients, Sharpton believes technology-driven companies are the best to partner with for aspiring salon owners’ long-term success. “I love that we don’t really have any phones in our space here, or a receptionist even, and all of that is possible because I’m able to have a online booking system.” Incredible, isn’t it? Sharpton goes on, “There’s a technological aspect to our business model, that supports hairdressers in capturing lost sales when their clients go to re-purchase product online. It’s the first time that hairdressers can earn a living, even while they’re asleep. I love that we get to support our fellow hairdressers 24 hours a day, I think it’s so exciting.”
Sharpton also loves the uses of Instagram as a kind of portfolio for your work. “It allows you to attract like-minded clients to you,” he believes. “This way you can build a really healthy book of people that you love and enjoy working with every day. Dive into technology because that’s going to free us and give us more time to do the thing we really love which is hair.” To end, we absolutely needed to get the best piece of advice Sharpton had ever received, which led to a great story about when he first began assisting. “I was able to assist really great people in the salon I was training in,” he recalled. “These stylists made people look amazing and cool and I admired them so much for the work that they created.
When you work as an assistant, there’s a rotation, so you have to move to the next stylist and I remember being so worried because I was going from working with someone who was so modern to someone who was more traditional. I expressed my fear of not being inspired anymore to this to the stylist I was leaving and they said, ‘Listen, you can learn something from anyone. You need to be your own inspiration.'” Sharpton interpreted that as discovering inspiration points and injecting those moments into his work. “I didn’t need to rely on someone else to borrow from,” he affirmed. “Really taking ownership of my inspiration, and being able to pull inspiration from anywhere when I needed it was really valuable to my work.