LOU Day was destined to be a hair salon stylist and owner.
Growing up in Canberra, none of her Barbies or neighbours were safe from her scissors.
“My great grandfather was a hairdresser and I was obsessed in cutting the hair of all the girls in our street and in highschool I’d change my own look constantly,” Ms Day says.
After 21 years in the hair industry, including stints working in the top salons in London and Sydney, Mrs Day opened her first salon – Cheveux By Lou – in Maitland Road, Islington, in February.
The move came after she relocated to the Hunter with her partner early last year, and initially struggled to find her employment feet.
“I found it really hard to find a job, I was knocked back because I was told I was too experienced and overqualified, and so I ended up getting a casual job that was quite disheartening,” she said.
When she began to apply for jobs in Sydney, her partner, Jason, an employee at the Australian Tax Office in Newcastle, gently stepped in.
“He said ‘just open your own’ but I had no clientele, so I was opening my door and just hoping for the best, but Jase said ‘it’ll happen’, he’s my biggest cheerleader,” she says.
The pair found their shopfront, formerly an organic grocer, and did a two-week renovation, upcycling used furniture locally and even items sourced on “the strip” aka Maitland Road.
On her first day of trade, Ms Day had a few clients and while there were a few slow days that made her panic, she is booked our regularly.
For now, she is keen to remain a one-woman salon.
“It’s just me and it’s funny, my clients say that they like that, because they don’t get palmed around as you do elsewhere,” she says.
“I book my appointments to ensure I can give the best service and only occasionally will I rope in a niece or nephew to help on a Saturday.”
Ms Day did an apprenticeship at Noddys on King in Newtown, then worked at Convent Garden for noted London company Charles Worthington before returning to Sydney to work at a managerial level at Toni & Guy’s Academy of Hairdressing in Paddington.
In her own salon, she’s chosen to use and stock almost exclusively vegan hair products, and uses Sustainable Salons Australia to collect the bulk of her waste, including hair scraps which, if long enough, are used to make wigs for children with cancer.
“It’s easier not to be vegan, but I kept thinking of all the chemicals going down the drain, and many clients have sensitive skin that reacts to standard products,” says Ms Day.
Cheveux by Lou is on Instagram and Facebook.