Since their childhood years, cousins Marcia Rhodes Tyler and Nikita Rhodes Montgomery had an interest in beauty, visiting various salons, spas and cosmetic shops in search of products and places that fit their lifestyles. While many finds got the job done, both women realized there was something missing.
“Our experiences in going to salons weren’t always pleasant,” says Montgomery, who—while born in Germany as her father was in the U.S. Army—grew up in Alexandria, attending St. Mary’s Catholic School and George Washington University. “One, [the salons] weren’t lush and comfortable, like a place you wanted to be pampered in. And two, they weren’t diverse, especially in more upscale environments like Alexandria. They were restricted in the hair styles they could work on.”
Six months ago, Tyler and Montgomery decided to take matters in their own hands and opened Hazel O. Salon in Old Town, named in honor of their grandmother, Hazel O., who was a cosmetologist for over 50 years. One of Hazel O. Salon’s main goals is to integrate diversity into the business.
“From the outset, we began recruiting stylists with diverse backgrounds, and not just in terms of race,” explains Montgomery.
Every stylist at the salon is trained to serve various hair types, stemming from years of experience. Three of the stylists are even certified in curly specialization, enabling them to treat, cut and color curly hair properly without taking it out of its natural state. According to Montgomery, most stylists generally straighten curly hair first to touch it up, which can often lead to long-term damage.
Within the salon, the team is specialized in general styling, coloring, cutting, makeup styling and waxing. Plus, Hazel O. Salon offers wedding and special-event styling too.
In addition to the services, the lofted space on North Washington Street is inspired by the owners’ grandmother, filled with hues of green and natural shades to bring a sense of calm to every client who walks through the door.
“My grandparents were both from Florida, so there’s a Floridian vibe throughout,” says Montgomery. “But also, the DMV is so busy and everyone is always focused on work. We wanted to create a space where you feel like you’re on vacation for a few hours while with us.”
According to Montgomery, being family isn’t the only reason the two women are able to successfully work together. As a pair, the two have experience in public relations, event management and IT, enabling Tyler to tackle the logistics, such as working with the finance team for tax season, and leaving the day-to-day, client-based work (of which they have over 200 so far) to Montgomery.
“We always wanted to work together and we were just like, ‘Why don’t we just go for it?'” says Rhodes Montgomery. “The business is continuously growing, which is all we can ask for. As long as you’re not declining, you’re moving in the right direction.”
Come Sunday, March 15, the duo will be hosting a floral workshop at the salon, led by local resident Cameron Hardesty of Your Poppy Flowers. Click here to register for the upcoming affair, or here to book an appointment at Hazel O. Salon. // 108 N. Washington St., Alexandria
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