Spaces in places like Curtin House don’t stay vacant long … even on the third floor. When Pet Shop Girls moved its Japanese-skewed boutique out of the high front windows, the space was taken over by two friends who have been dressing hair for 15 years, Helen Demos and Candice Harber.
Although the pair apprenticed together, they’d never worked in the same business until they decided to start one. “We’d always talked about starting our own business, but it was a pipe dream,” says Demos. “This space was vacant at the end of last year, and it took two or three months to get everyone on board. We pulled heaps of favours to get it up and running, but spent money where we needed to.”
The result is a salon that manages to be both spacious and cosy, clean without being clinical.
The interior was designed by architect Alana Cooke, who worked on pioneering Sydney cafe Reuben Hills. Furniture was designed and built by young local carpenter Ari Dybal, who made the Victorian Ash table that anchors the space. The salon makes great use of natural light, with nice touches from friends and clients such as the macramé hangers from Smalltown, and plants from Lygon St Nursery.
The pair cater to women and men and juggle editorial work and styling for music videos (such as Alpine’s Damn Baby) with the salon’s clients. Demos specialises in cutting and Harber is the colourist, and while both have a wealth of experience, they’re interested in making the experience as relaxed as possible. “I’m as much a consumer as you are. I’m not trying to baffle you,” Harber says discussing the options she provides her clients.
While open just a few months, the pair has already built a steady and varied clientele. “Where you tend to get regulars and locals if you’re outside the CBD, here in town, you really get a cross section, which is great,” says Demos, who had been working at a salon in Northcote before “the city dragged me back in.”