Laundry For Hair
The fabulous Laundry sits on Arundel Street next to Tamper Coffee. Having opened its doors in 2013, it has been the talk of the town for a while. For me, getting to know it began when I attended a good friend’s birthday at the Chimney House. Oh, it was so good – one of those nights where afterwards, whenever anyone mentions it, you start to cry with laughter remembering the events! Many things happened that night. For instance: I was wearing a very expensive silk dress and my husband, while eating the luscious food put out on the long, candlelit table, kept telling me how lovely I looked while putting his greasy fingers all over my dress! Yes, it had to be thrown away, much to my dismay, but it was worth it for a top night with friends at a cool venue.
This birthday celebration also meant that after the event I got to follow The Chimney House and 93 ft (the design company behind the build), and watched Laundry being built. Being a huge interiors fan, I enjoyed seeing reclaimed floors being laid when photos kept popping up, never imagining that I would ever go and have my hair cut there. But later, I was feeling quite fed up about the fact I never felt 100% happy when leaving a salon, and realised I needed a new hairdresser. I researched Laundry to see if it was somewhere I could go. There were quite a few challenges to overcome: having anxiety around scissors was a problem, as was my very thick hair. Over recent years I’d begun to feel better about my phobia of scissors … that is, until I had my second son. He had huge anxiety around hairdressers and scissors, and I felt my own anxiety getting worse alongside his.
In 2014, something changed in me. I felt I had to try and be stronger. Pushing myself to overcome my fears seemed the only option I had if I was ever going get anywhere in life, and that included a good haircut! So I did something I would never usually have done: I booked myself in with Mitch, the owner of Laundry. What I should have done is tell him what a wreck I am at the hairdressers; instead, I found myself talking too much, which is what I do when I’m nervous! It took quite a long time to actually get myself there and feeling OK about Mitch cutting my hair. The thing that got me through was thinking about the interiors – sad I know, but very true!
The building, as you might know, is part of the Sellers Wheel, which gets its name from John Sellers, a silversmith famous for making penknife blades, razors and surgical instruments. His greatest legacy, however, is having made the template for the stamp used to print the American dollar. Business throve here from 1862 until the mid-1970’s, so it has a real industrial edge. It’s great that Laundry is one of the first businesses to help create the Cultural Industries Quarter. What I find amazing now is that I live in Hampshire and, looking at history, I found out that the Duke of Norfolk and Surrey (whose family seat is Arundel Castle), owned most of Sheffield and some of the Peak District, which is why some of the streets are named after him, including Arundel Street. Walking through the door of Laundry, you notice an immediate ease to the place. Without trying too hard it conveys warmth, style and on-trend twists (you wouldn’t know it was designed five years ago). Mixing old and new, vintage and industrial pieces, you find yourself drawn to looking at everything around you. The café greets you first with a science lab counter and buttermilk bus seats that ooze comfort and subtle sophistication without being over the top. Exposed brick and a polished concrete floor gives an industrial note but also an eclectic feel, with the added pieces of furniture thrown in. Walking down the steps into the busy salon area, you get a sense of true grit, with concrete counters laid on industrial steel legs and then a wonderful reclaimed parquet floor. Big industrial lights draw you into a fashionable hair world where the salon has so much going on in an understated way.
Mitch dresses casually and is renowned for his checked shirts and rugged look. You would be mistaken to think his moody sultry look is intentional – he is just seriously concentrating on giving you the best bloody haircut you have ever had! That’s why he has an amazing reputation: he takes his work very seriously. He also has a soft side and is genuinely lovely, not only with his clients but with his staff. Having gone there for four years I can say, hand on heart, that the team are a close-knit bunch that work very hard. From Sally, who runs the café, to the stylists, who smile and greet you like they have known you forever, and the juniors, who are so sweet and eager to learn, this salon has so much to offer. Mitch will bring you a cup of coffee as well as wash your hair and help you with your coat and I like that. It shows great strength in a person that they are willing to do everything on all levels.
Mitch said he gave hands-on help with the build and loved rolling his sleeves up and getting stuck in. From looking at the plans, to helping to pour the concrete, he got involved, so you can tell this place means the world to him. Not only is this the first salon to build a café inside, but it has a great ethos as well. Mitch has a teenage daughter, and he has run campaigns with the message of keeping it real in a social media world. In today’s world, filters give everyone the ability to look perfect, and Mitch said he worried about his daughter’s generation and the fact that so many youngsters feel the pressure to look Instagram perfect. During the last campaign he worked on, he was asked to hold a photo shoot with the theme of keeping it real. Focusing on the older generation meant Mitch could really put a focus on how you can feel good about being yourself. There were lots of older women and men that all had grey hair. Showing great hairstyles, the photos gave a sense of style, purpose and a real inspiration. Something that we should all feel good about is being inspired by people who love their hair and style no matter what their age.
I think this is why I love the Accidental Icon because she is a real influencer in the fashion world: she has the most amazing hairstyle with beautiful grey hair and, at the age of 64, has no plans to stop being cool. Appealing to smart, creative women who are comfortable with who they are and yet want an urban, modern and intellectual image, Lyn Slater has 462k followers on Instagram. This sends a message to the beauty, fashion and hair industries that things need to change. Real people want to feel inspired by other real people and that is why the ethos of Laundry gets it right, not only in the style of the salon, but in the message they are trying to convey. Keep it real, feel good about yourself and get yourself a good haircut. The fact I don’t put lots of styling products on my hair and basically wash my hair and leave it means this kind of salon appeals to me. I don’t think this style of salon is just suited to Sheffield, because we have genuine lovely down-to-earth people here; I do think this salon could work anywhere as it has great values. I am just so pleased that it started in Sheffield and has set a trend that is hard to match.
Photos by the fabulous Josh from JS Collective!