BY JEN OLENICZAK BROWN
PHOTOS BY PHOTO ARTISTRY BY MELINDA
Alkali Hair Studio describes itself as “a modern, upscale salon for the discerning customer.”
When you talk to owner Amber Woodall, you’ll see it’s actually much more, and many of that “more” aren’t immediately apparent to a person coming in for a service.
First, let’s look at what is visible: their new location on West End Boulevard is nothing short of stunning. You walk into an airy space, well-lit by natural and warm light, and you’re immediately greeted by openness – both in the contours of the structure, and the welcoming nature of everyone that works there. COVID protocols are in place in a comforting and yet firm manner, and then your stylist sweeps you up into her private alcove where you discuss the plan of action. Your stylist is focused on you, and you can fully relax without the bustle and busyness of an overcrowded and loud salon.
“We desire to do everything with excellence,” said Amber. “Everyone is passionate about their craft and people, and I strive to create that vibe that is respectful of the person and what they want.”
The visible is apparent – she’s hired new stylists, offers skin consultations and skin services, just as planned. Even with a private experience and alcoves, the salon is busy, and clients are in love with the new space. “It’s a much larger space with a modern, but still warm, feeling,” said Kristen Pratt Machado, an Alkali client. “I love being able to browse the product lines while waiting, and the high ceilings and more open space feel safer during the pandemic.” The visible isn’t the only thing Amber and her team are hard at work on – the less visible is pretty special, too.
Skincare is an exciting addition to Alkali’s suite of services – from their new HydraFacial offering to the medical director that allows them to offer Environ. Environ is a skincare line that is dedicated to helping people achieve healthy and beautiful skin with powerful, medical-grade ingredients you can’t find in the store. “With these treatments, you’re not getting into high enough strength to damage the skin or create sun sensitivity – it’s about a healthy way to take care of your skin,” said Amber. She specifically wanted to carry Environ after researching products and lines – a consistent theme of thoughtful, high-quality that is present in all of Alkali’s offerings. Consultations are required for Environ because it is prescription strength and not available online or in stores.
Even less visible, but highly impactful – Amber’s dedication to leaving the world better than she found it. “The beauty industry creates 877 pounds of waste per minute,” said Amber. “We didn’t have the room before, but now we are part of a program called Green Circle Salons, and we recycle 90% of our waste. Single-use items like wax strips, mascara wands, unused color, color tubes, metal – even hair gets recycled.”
This drive and desire to make a change is present throughout choices in every corner of Alkali. “It takes action to make a difference – you have to consciously work on it with specific action items,” said Amber. She’s building this change into their pricing structure as well. Generally, haircuts have been priced on a gender-focused model, with a “men’s” and “women’s” cut, with the women’s cut higher priced. Now, pricing is based on time at Alkali, not gender. If you’re getting a short cut and have a short cut, you’ll pay that 30-minute price, regardless of gender. “It holds us to a better standard and is honestly more ethical.”
What’s next for Amber and Alkali? It’s going to be leveling up and higher standards, no doubt. “When I see things that need to be fixed, I think about how I can fix it here,” said Amber. “I can fix it here, so I will. And I’m so happy to have the support.”
Visit Alkali at studioalkali.com, on Instagram @alkalihairstudio, and on the App Store: ALKALI. They are located at 407 W. End Blvd. Phone: (336) 724-1453; Text: 1 (833) 682-2614.