HAIR by Christine & Co.
Haircut – Christine
Hair color – Ashley
217 Highland Ave., (617) 776-6470
A repeat Scout’s Honored winner for “Best Hair Salon,” Christine Andrade McSheehy has owned HAIR by Christine & Co. since 2011. The salon has a team of six stylists, including Ashley Claudino, who won this year’s “best hair color” designation. Scout talked to McSheehy about her success and what goes into a truly great haircut.
Tell us about how you got to running HAIR by Christine & Co.?
I’ve always wanted to be a hairstylist, since I was in the fourth grade. It was pretty much destiny that I would end up being a hairstylist. So I worked all over Somerville at different salons. One of my missions has always been to use the gift that I have for good. We do a lot of outreach work, which I can say definitely puts us in a different bracket from your traditional hair salon. We do a lot of cut-a-thons. And one of my biggest missions, for sure, is helping the transgender community. I work specifically with male-to-female transgender women to help them learn the skills involved with hair and makeup.
What did you see in other salons that you wanted to incorporate into yours?
I always wanted to make sure we had a salon that was filled with education. I don’t believe in staying stuck and not learning new things. So I wanted to make sure that my salon had an environment where we were learning all the newest, all the best trends, as well as personal development. I feel like a lot of the industry, we’re basically therapists. We deal with a lot of people. There’s a lot of self-love and self-care that you have to do in order to stay in this business for as long as you can.
People are more vulnerable in the salon chair?
Yes, definitely. Because you’re developing a relationship with them. We’re kind of like an unbiased ear for some people. They become friends, almost like family. We’re more into having the relationships—they don’t just come in to get their hair done.
And so you have to make sure your staff feels supported, too?
Absolutely. We have meetings where I tell my team they have to write out their goals. I like for two of their 10 goals to be career-driven, but I want to make sure that the other goals they have are their own life-driven [goals], because I don’t want them to just feel like I’m there for them to make money, that’s the least of my concerns. I want my girls to be happy. If they’re happy, the money comes.
How important is having a strong online presence?
What’s hard for me is being a sole business owner. Not only do I have to keep my team motivated, have us busy at the salon, making sure we’re doing outreach programs, I’m also in charge of my own social media for the salon, which is like a part-time job in itself. I’m always on the go. In this industry, people go on Instagram and Facebook to find a hairdresser, so if you don’t have a big online presence, it’s harder to reach potential clients, especially younger clients.
What’s your advice on how to get ask for and get that great haircut?
Because hairdressers are traditionally super visual people, I always say bring [a photo of] something that you absolutely love and something that’s close enough to what you like, but that you absolutely hate. As a hairdresser if I look at that picture that you hate and I see that the layers are shorter, I know that’s what you don’t like. So not only the picture you like, but you’ve got to bring the one you hate too.
If I was somebody getting a haircut for the first time, I would say things like, “I’d rather be too long today and have to come back than it be too short.” You always have to underpromise and overdeliver, and sometimes it comes out perfect, but you have to make sure you’re covered, just in case.
What’s trendy in haircuts?
I would definitely say low maintenance is huge right now with color and cutting, stuff that’s going to grow out really good, and a lot of texture. I think people are too busy to be in the salon every four weeks. The really straight, blunt looks are fully phasing out because they’re so much more maintenance. People are loving that “lived in” [look], where it doesn’t necessarily look like you just got a haircut.
You said you love “drastic changes.” Why?
I love people that will go from super long hair and they just want to cut it all off. Color-wise, the people who want to dip into the vivids and do something crazy with their hair, which we do a lot of, like the mermaids and unicorns [styles]. It’s always fun to do somebody who’s never had that done, to flip the mirror on them and they’re like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that’s my head.”
What’s your favorite haircut to give?
I love pixies. You can’t hide [the cut] with the blow dry. You have to have the technical skill. You have to have the person’s face shape and texture in mind for it to come out great. I love how hard it is. I love a challenge like that.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and conciseness.