What one is most struck by, when entering The Hair Lounge, is that it’s a house. It’s welcoming before even opening the door.
Built on Calgary Stampede Park in the 1960s, this 1,600-square-foot house was moved to Airdrie and is a throw back to simpler times. Even with ten chairs, it feels homey.
Wendy Bates, who opened The Hair Lounge 15 years ago, is a big part of the welcoming atmosphere, making customers feel like they’re in her home. Which according to Bates, is the entire purpose of her business.
“That is exactly how we want our clients to feel when they’re here,” enthuses Bates. “That they’re home, amongst friends they’re comfortable with.”
Bates bought the property in May 2008 and, after extensive renovations, opened that December. It’s a far cry from her first career in oil and gas for 13 years, but Bates has never looked back.
“I am definitely a people person, a leader, mentor and, from the beginning, immersed myself in the community. I knew very early I had come home,” says Bates, who moved here in 2003.
Her community involvement includes volunteering for the Food Bank, and the BGC of Airdrie. She is a Rotarian, a SMARTstart mentor, and most recently received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Award.
Despite COVID having had such a huge impact on small business, especially the salon industry, The Hair Lounge has thrived in response.
Beautifully appointed, the basement is a replica of a wine cellar in Portugal that Bates once visited. The large upstairs windows reflect the natural light, and the greenery gives it a spa feel. While the salon itself has changed décor over the years, Bates’ commitment to service has not.
“My clients have been coming for 14 years. I’ve watched children grow up, marry and bring their own children here. We’ve shared in marriages, births, divorces, even deaths. My staff and clients all feel like they belong here, that they’re welcomed and appreciated.”
The glowing reviews on the salon’s website, and the stylists’ ease and camaraderie in the shop are testimonials to the success of Bates’ initial vision for her business; giving back to the community that is so supportive.
“We have a great team of stylists, who are talented and experienced, who really listen to what the client wants. The culture of The Hair Lounge is our brand and is what I’m most proud of.”
In this case, Bates herself is the model for the brand of her business. Her compassion and commitment are the integral spirit of this great little company.
In fact, you might even say this home-grown company has its roots right here in Airdrie.