Columbus, Ohio USA
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Fixin' Bad Hair Days
By Karen Edwards
August 2010 Issue
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Artie B Heather Wilson, owner of Artie B's Salon, is known as Heather because no one ever gets Artie B right.
A bad hair day is when your hair refuses to play nice with your brush and/or comb – no matter how much you coax the two to just get along.
A bad hair day is when summer weather finally gets so hot and sultry your hair frizzes like a scouring pad, or deflates and lies limp and flat like a curtain on a windless day.
A bad hair day is when you and your stylist seem not to be of like-mind and you wonder if you had been speaking in tongues when you explained exactly how you’d like your hair to look at the end of the appointment.
Whatever your definition of a bad hair day, most people will agree that the definition of a good hair day is finding a style that rocks – something flattering, low maintenance and so distinctly you that no one can imagine anyone else carrying off that hairstyle as well.
Yeah, great – but where do you find a stylist who can work that kind of magic? It’s gotta be some New York City salon where the price of a cut can come in at the same level as your mortgage payment, right? Not necessarily. The answer lies closer to home. All any Short North resident or visitor needs to do is wander over to the Italian Village area and look for 1104 N. High Street. That’s where you’ll find Artie B’s Salon, home of the rock star stylists.
Step right into this quirky little shop and you’ll soon find yourself relaxing and smiling. This is not one of those suburban spas with its pretentious airs. This is a salon where you feel you belong, a place you can go to just hang out for a while and be who you are. You don’t have to pretend to be anyone else.
“We have customers who don’t need any styling services, but they’ll call us and ask if they can come by to shoot pool,” says Artie B’s owner Heather Wilson.
Pool? That’s right. The salon has made room for a regulation-sized pool table (in addition to a flat-screen TV) – so while your color sets or your perm takes hold, you don’t have to sit around looking at copies of magazines – unless you want to. That’s one thing that make this neighborhood salon so cool. You have options on how to spend your “free” time – and how you want your hair to be styled.
Of course, Artie B’s didn’t spring into existence overnight. Even though it celebrated its one-year anniversary in July, Wilson says she has worked as a stylist from the age of four. Okay, her clients were Barbie and other dolls, but she comes by her hair talent honestly.
“My grandmother and mother were both stylists,” says Wilson, and they owned their own shop – which means, growing up, a salon was as familiar and comfortable to her as a playground might be for other four-year-olds. “I also have an aunt who’s a stylist,” says Wilson.
Yet Wilson, the second-oldest of six children (four boys, two girls), has no sibling who is a stylist. She’s the only one among them to go into the “family” business.
Wilson grew up in Portsmouth and moved to Columbus for the same reason a lot of young people leave home for the first time – a romantic relationship. It didn’t work out but Wilson remained in Columbus, going to work at First Concepts Salon, then The Lofts, where she styled, colored, permed and cut hair for 13 years before finally deciding to go the same route her grandmother and mother had gone and open her own salon.
“I looked at five places before I found this one,” says Wilson. She did a little bit of renovation work – adding some plumbing and salon equipment – and moved in on July 1, 2009. Now, she’s happily ensconced in her own business – doing her own thing. Why’d she call it Artie B’s? That’s her name. Heather is her middle name.
“I go by Heather because no one ever gets Artie B right,” she says. Oh, they get the Artie part – but very few people add the “B.” “Artie’s not my name,” says Wilson, “It’s Artie B – the whole thing: Artie B Heather Wilson.”
If you were to wander into Artie B’s on any given day, you’d find an eclectic mix of clientele – from the 20-something crowd to the 50-plus professional. Wilson brought her own clientele with her from her old styling days at The Lofts – but business has been growing steadily as walk-ins and locals fall in love with the place.
And it’s not just for the pool table.
All in the attitude
There is an attitude here that is laid-back and energized all at the same time. Part of it can be attributed to those rock-star stylists. Wilson laughs when asked about her staff. She has three females and one male stylist, “and there are 10 tattoos among us,” she says. That’s not what makes them rock stars, however. “It’s all in the attitude,” says Wilson. They are who they are – take it or leave it – and that gives clients license to be who they are.
Bradley Stuckey, the salon’s lone male stylist, says that freedom of expression is what he likes most about working at Artie B’s. “We’re free to have our own style,” he says – and whether that’s in the way the stylists dress (“there is no dress code,” says Stuckey) or the way they style their hair, no one is going to break out a rules and
regulation book. And that goes for clients as well.
Heather with Bradley Stuckey, the salon's lone male stylist.
“If a client comes in and wants platinum blond hair with a pink streak, hey, we’ll do that for them,” says Stuckey. Unlike other salons, there’s no pressure to mold you into the latest hairstyle – or talk you out of one.
“We don’t discriminate,” adds Stuckey. Everyone is welcome – and to prove it, rates are set at a figure that’s available to all.
Stuckey especially likes it when clients come in just to chat, shoot pool and chill – even if they don’t have a service scheduled. How many salons have you wanted to make your hangout? That’s what makes Artie B’s special. That’s what gives the salon its rock star edge.
But don’t think for a moment there isn’t a high-degree of professionalism here.
Wilson’s been styling hair too long not to take it seriously.
Say, for example, a client walks in for the first time and fulfills every stylist’s dream by saying “Do what you want with my hair.” An undisciplined non-professional may let their ego out, unleashing a creative style that no one could either live with – or manage if they could.
No, no, says Wilson. The first thing a professional does with a statement like that is to draw some clues from the client herself (or himself.) “I look at the way they’re dressed,” says Wilson. If their clothes are conservative, they’re probably not going to appreciate an edgy cut with a purple streak running through it. You tailor the style accordingly.” As for color – “everyone has a different version of color,” says Wilson. Your “red” might be barn-red or fire-engine red or any of a dozen different reds in between. It’s all a matter of perception. And skin tones, says Wilson. Certain colors look better with certain skin tones. That’s why consultations are so important.
As for the style itself, the shape of the face and especially the jaw line are going to make a difference in a style that flatters you and rocks your world – or doesn’t. In other words, if you walk into Artie B’s with a photo of Jennifer Lopez because you want that hair-style, take a deep breath, because your stylist will.
“Pictures are a good starting point for us,” says Wilson. “We can tell what kind of cut and color the client likes at a glance, and then we’ll adjust it according to her face and color.”
That means that every client at Artie B’s receives a custom-tailored look. It’s all about that rock-star style – finding out who you are and designing your hair around that personality and look. You’re not Jennifer Lopez – so why look like her? Be you, and let the stylists bring out the best in you.
And if what you want is an updated version of you – well, that’s perfectly understandable. “Popular hairstyles change all the time,” says Wilson. One year, the “it” hairstyle is flat with just a little bend; other years, the fringe bang rules; other years, hair is more side-swept, says Wilson. Right now, her hair is long and classic but that may not be the style you’ll see on her if you stop by the shop tomorrow. “I change my hair every month, even if it’s something subtle,” she says.
If nothing else, Wilson says, let your hair reflect the current season. She likes to change clients’ color according to the calendar. If she’s styling a blond, for example, she’ll add more blond to the hair in the summer; and if it’s fall, brunettes will receive a little more copper in their hair.
For client Katrina Roby, whatever Wilson does with her hair is fine with her. Katrina has been going to Wilson for five years – but it wasn’t easy tracking her down.
“I had been to a salon that didn’t do a very good job,” says Roby. So she visited a second salon to fix the job the first salon had done. “I didn’t know anyone in the shop, so I went to the first person who could take me,” she says. The stylist she saw that day was Heather Wilson. Wilson did such a professional job that when Roby needed her hair styled again, she didn’t hesitate to return to the salon – and to Wilson. Only Wilson wasn’t there. She had moved on to another salon.
“The other salon wouldn’t tell me where she had gone,” says Roby. (In the competitive salon world where stylists come and go, it doesn’t make practical business sense to send a client to another salon.) But Roby was undeterred. She used contacts and scant information (Roby knew her mother had a salon in the Portsmouth area) to track Wilson to the Lofts. “I called her mother’s salon and was told where Heather had gone,” says Roby.
Roby admits to being a “high-maintenance” client. “I’m very picky about my hair,” she says. But she says she’s always happy with Wilson’s work and reports receiving “a lot of compliments on my hair.”
“From the first moment she worked on me, we got along,” says Roby. “Our personalities just meshed. I’d follow her to any salon.”
That includes Wilson’s move to Artie B’s. Roby says she likes the new shop. “It’s rare when you can find that level of service and experience in today’s salon,” she says.
Now that she’s a salon-owner, does Wilson envision a chain of Artie B’s throughout the city? Hardly. She’s not a name-only kind of shop owner. “I’m the hair wizard,” says Wilson with a laugh. “I like to do it all. I’m a hands-on owner.”
Of course, Wilson isn’t all work and no play. When she isn’t at Artie B’s, styling hair or fulfilling the duties of a salon owner, you’ll probably find her working crosswords or reading – and it won’t be those tabloid newspapers, either. Wilson’s literary tastes lean toward the classics. “I’m reading Dostoevsky right now,” she says. She also likes Ayn Rand, the comic novels of Christopher Moore – and any book on Egyptology. “If I hadn’t become a stylist, I would probably be an archaeologist,” says Wilson.
And who knows? Maybe there is a dig out there in the future for her. For now, however, she’s happy owning and working at Artie B’s.
“I hope people think of Artie B’s as a great place to get their hair styled – that it’s cool, with a great atmosphere and a laid-back style,” says Wilson.
But Artie B’s may be a lot more than that. It could just be the perfect place to end bad hair days for once and for all. Rock on, Artie B’s!
Artie B’s is located in the Short North at 1104 N. High St. Hours are Monday through Friday 10-8, and Saturday 11-4. For more information, call 614-725-2932 or email ArtieBSalon@yahoo.com.
© 2010 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.
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