Tucked into a corner stretch in Altavista sits a beautiful, hip hair salon, Mitchell’s Salon on 7th. It’s fun style and unique surroundings totally reflects the owner, Gwen, who is sweet along with being so talented. Normally they perform beauty makeovers, but recently they gave the salon itself a face lift and celebrated with an open house. Enjoy some photos of the open house with taken by Jennifer of Studio 1 Photography along with a little question and answer with Gwen herself. Oh, and those refreshments you see are by none other than the great duo of Love Is in the Air. So much talent in one posting!
HCB – Tell us a little bit about how you came to be Altavista’s hair guru.
Gwen – I moved to Altavista in ’07, but still worked in Lynchburg. I hated the drive, and I was encouraged to find something local, or start a new salon, which scared me to death… partly because it was a small town and also because I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an owner again.
So, I came up with some ridiculous stipulations: I’d work in Altavista if I could find a small salon that would allow me to rent a booth one or two days a week while I still worked in Lynchburg, and they had to be willing to sell it to me if I decided I like it. Most importantly, it had to be within walking distance of my house. One day I was flipping through the yellow pages looking for something, and I found this salon number.
I found out Monica (the owner then) had been looking for over a month for someone to join her. Tada… here I am! At first, I was here only one day a week. I got booked FAST, so I added a second day. At that point, I’d decided I’d stay and transfer all my clients here, so Monica and I began negotiating my taking over.
HCB – What is the history of the salon itself?
Gwen – The salon has been here more than 50 years. Monica had started working here in ’72, and she and her former partner bought it from the original owner, Mildred Mitchell sometime after that.
The last time it had been renovated was some time in the 60′s. It had brown paneling throughout, orange floors, and yellowed dropped ceilings, but the natural light was FANTASTIC! In the 50′s this space had been an artist’s studio and gallery.
HCB – You recently underwent major updates and renovations. Can you tell us a little about those?
Gwen – I loved it and decided to paint it “lipstick colors”. I bought the salon in April 2011 and started the heavy duty renovations–pulled up floors, tore down 2 partial walls, and put in new equipment and lighting. It’s even better than I’d envisioned. It’s beautiful, and retro!
The building itself is over 100 years old, and I wanted to preserve as much of the original as possible, hence the absolutely beautiful floors. So, it took a year and way too much money, but it’s beautiful, so we decided to throw a big party to celebrate.
The downtown merchants had decided to do a big open house on March 31st, so I joined in with mine. The girls that work with me and I agreed we needed to make it super fancy and slightly prissy, and as you see from the pics, it worked!
HCB – Has the salon itself received any accolades?
Gwen – Oh, we were voted Altavista’s Best Salon this year (second year in a row), and I was voted the town’s Best Hairstylist! This little town has been SO good to me. I definitely stay booked. I specialize in color, but my cuts are famous, and of course, I love up-style. I do weddings just to get me out of the salon for fun!
HCB – What about the future? Besides the beautiful new digs for the space, is anything else coming up for Mitchell’s Salon on 7th?
Gwen – We are partnering with a new product line (to be announced) along with Neuma, both of which are exclusive to us. I just returned from a class with Beth Minardi, THE “high priestess” of hair color, and I’m planning more classes with her in the future. (If you’re not learning, you’re not growing!)
I have a vision of turning this entire building into a beauty and wellness center with massage, skin care, nail care and yoga… we’ll see what the future brings!
As you can see, Gwen is filled with ideas and boundless energy. Whether you need a cut or color or you are looking for a beautiful style for your wedding day, be sure to give Mitchell’s Salon on 7th a try! Oh and as far as the photo below? It shows Linda and Mary of Love Is in the Air along with Gwen… three wonderfully sweet and talented ladies!