By Molly Brown
It’s Saturday at 11:06 a.m. While most salons are bustling with multiple appointments scheduled at the same time, this salon has a slow but steady stream of well-known clients. Quality, rather than quantity is of value here.
“What you see is what you get,” Shirley Williams laughs.
Located on North 57th Avenue West in Duluth, Salon in the Valley is roughly the size of a typical living room. Despite its minute dimensions, the quaint family-owned beauty salon demonstrates excellent customer service that likely surpasses other salons ten times its size.
Most salons hire multiple stylists on the weekend, but owner Stacey Nylund prefers to work side by side with her mother, Shirley, on Saturdays.
While Stacey first opened the salon by herself six years ago, the mother-daughter duo decided to give it a go as business partners just two-and-a-half years ago.
The rustically textured yellow and green walls make the space seem comfortable and warm. Nature-inspired décor is echoed throughout the room with African animal figurines and paintings adorning every wall and table. Plants of all sizes continue this theme, and full leaves cascade down the sides of multiple planters. The wooden appointment desktop is painted with a large zebra print design and the two waiting chairs are upholstered with a giraffe-inspired fabric. Even the broom sports a sassy leopard print.
On the right wall, two wooden shelves display full stocks of elite hair product brands Biolage, Matrix, and Crew.
Above the clock hanging on the wall is a sign with curling silver calligraphy that reads, “Delighted You’re Here.” That is exactly the impression these cheerful women give off to each client who walks through their door.
With dangling earrings that match their outfits, both Stacey and Shirley are just as stylish and put-together as the salon is.
“Time for Prom,” Shirley says, smiling as she sets the phone down on the zebra print desk and pencils in an appointment.
Dolores, one of the salon regulars, is getting a perm today. As Stacey moves in a half circle around “Dode” as she calls her, she brushes through the white curls, and asks her client, “So, did you take down your Easter stuff?”
Stacey sprays Dolores’ finished coif with a thick mist of hairspray, a protective measure to shield the hairdo from the howling wind outside. Putting on her glasses, the salon regular looks in the mirror and smiles at her reflection, pleased, just as she usually is, with the finished product.
Before leaving, she schedules another weekly appointment while Stacey hands Dolores her cane and coat.
It becomes clear that loyal customers are like family in this salon.
David enters. “I saw you in the grocery store the other day, but it was packed so it wasn’t a great time to holler and say 'Hi,'” Shirley says.
With a thick head of salt and pepper curls, David sits down at Stacey’s station and requests his “usual de-bulking.”
Conversation is not confined to typical hair salon gossip. As Stacey lathers his hair with shampoo, their chat shifts from small talk to David’s passion for fishing. He describes the variety of lures he uses under different circumstances. Meanwhile, Stacey multi-tasks, remaining engaged in both the haircut and the conversation.
She asks David if his boys are going to join him at all this fishing season as she meticulously trims and combs through his hair.
“It’s a different world out there,” Stacey says about the serenity of the lake. It is hard to say if she is just being polite or if she also shares David’s passion for fishing.
As Stacey completes David’s “spring cleaning,” as she calls it, another customer enters.
Shirley’s face lights up as she greets the young man. “Ian, how are you? How are the boys?”
No matter who walks through the door, one thing is for sure, these ladies know their clients through and through. Their genuine interest is a rare and appreciated quality admired by all who visit Salon in the Valley.