Hair Heart and Soul owner Sarah Redman cuts hair in the new roomy salon. Photo by Richard Dionne.
When it comes to making people feel at ease, Sarah Redman, by nature, puts her heart and soul into creating a warm, welcoming environment. As such, it’s been her goal to have her salon, Hair Heart and Soul, live up to its holistic name.
“I’ve always liked to pamper people,” Ms. Redman said. “I wanted to create a place for mind, body and soul in the spa and to have a special place for our guests to come and spend the day, or a few relaxing hours.”
A year after Ms. Redman began working at the salon in its original State Street location in 1998, she bought the business from Christal Lema and continued to build clientele from across the East Bay. Even then, both women shared the vision that the salon could be much more than what the small space could allow.
“We worked in 850 square feet of space for years. As the business grew I realized we had to make a move,” Ms. Redman said.
After searching for the perfect place, in January 2011, Ms. Redman and her husband, Michael, found a 200 year-old house on Hope Street. To help finance the purchase and remodeling, the Redmans sold their home and moved in upstairs while renovations began on the first floor. Once complete, the salon moved from its State Street location and work continued on the upper floors.
“The house needed tons of work but we took it on as a project because it has always been a dream of mine to take an historical, Victorian home and convert it to my dream salon and spa,” Ms. Redman said. “When I came in to see how much work had to be done I was scared. But my husband said location, location, location,” Ms. Redman said.
For several months, the pounding of workmen’s hammers, the chugging drone of a generator, and the clutter of sheetrock and other building materials could be found in nearly every unfinished room. Noise and dust was a stark contrast to the tranquil environment that Ms. Redman envisioned, but the temporary turmoil did nothing to hamper her positive energy.
“We renovated the whole building, still keeping and preserving as much as we could to keep the warm feel of coziness and at the same time create open space to provide a comfortable atmosphere for our clients,” she said, walking through the now finished space.
Among the building’s charm, workers discovered centuries old original fireplaces, bee-hive ovens and other historical features that had been hidden behind the wallboards. Rather than remove them, the features were restored, where they now serve as focal points in sitting areas scattered around the 14-room home.
The historic building is said to have been built and owned by two brothers who, after a falling out, literally built a wall to separate the two halves of the building. Another story suggests that slaves were once housed on the upper floor.
Despite the rumors of past incivility, there is a calming, almost Zen-like feeling that comes over guests who walk into the Hair Heart and Soul salon. Between the decor, with colors selected for their tranquil mood, to the almost subliminal, strains of contemporary Eastern-style music drifting through the rooms, to the friendliness of the staff, the serene affect can last even after a guest leaves the environment. And that’s exactly the affect Ms. Redman was looking for.
“I didn’t want a crazy, busy salon,” she said.
Instead, she wanted to model what impressed her about Canyon Ranch, a destination spa that promotes healthy living.
“I’ve always loved to spoil our clients and guests. It’s always been a dream of mine to create a peaceful haven with all of the best services we can offer. Here, clients can come for a day and get that destination experience,” she said.
By design, each of the three floors are dedicated to one of the elements in the name. On the first floor, guests are welcomed into the salon where a waiting area and retail space offers clients an opportunity to relax or browse through unique jewelry, hand-crafted items and other boutique products. The rest of the floor is dedicated to hair stylists and nail technicians, where roomy stations promote personal attention, while the camaraderie of the staff builds friendly conversation among clients. In the future, Ms. Redman plans to offer a cafe, where guests can enjoy a light meal and beverages provided by one of the nearby restaurants.
Upstairs, the second floor caters to the heart — not in the cardiac sense — but in providing services that make clients feel good inside and out.
“That’s where we have massage therapy, airbrushed sunless tanning and electrolysis,” Ms. Redman said.
A new service they recently began is micro-photo therapy, a safer alternative to removing lines than botox, she said.
The third floor, the soul element, is laid out to accommodate groups who want to enjoy the salon experience together. Besides utilizing the services found on the other floors, the top floor has hair stations, shower facilities and other amenities that appeal to wedding parties, proms and other girls’ nights out (or pre-girls’ nights out).
What adds to the completeness of Hair Heart and Soul is that Ms. Lema, who began the company, continues to provide services to clients, allowing the salon to offer specialty services. In addition, Ms. Lema offers hair extensions to women who are experiencing thinning hair due to illness or any number of reasons. The stations upstairs allow clients who feel insecure by their thinning hair to enjoy the same attention and pampering, but in a more private setting.
The evolution of Hair Heart and Soul is something that Ms. Lema is happy to see, and happy to be part of.
“It’s a great balance,” she said of her new role in her old company. “We all have something to add. It’s a great place to be.”
Ms. Lema also recognized the level of energy needed to accomplish the level of growth in business and services. Over the past year, Hair Heart and Soul nearly doubled its staff, employing 19, and serving about 75 clients a day.
“If anyone could have done this, it would be Sarah,” said Ms. Lema.
True to her giving nature, Ms. Redman shares the individual credit she receives with her colleagues.
“I have a talented, sweet and caring staff that has over the years made us who we truly are — Hair, Heart and Soul.”