Turning back the clock

This year, Tony Wood Hairdressing moved the experience of our salon forward in the best way yet: by moving it backwards. For years, we’ve focused on polishing up our interior to give it an air of royalty and indulgence, mirroring the considered quality of our services. But now, the quality of our cutting, styling, and colouring carries itself. This year, we decided we wanted the Tony Wood Hairdressing space to tell the story of the salon and its people. And the history before our salon.

Enter the ‘De-renovation’. Our Victorian clocktower home has a century of life in its walls, and we’ve stripped back our past contributions to the space to uncover a story much bigger than our own, while also minimizing costs: this renovation is a reveal, not a cover-up, and it called for tools, not materials. At the same time, we’ve extended our connections with clients beyond the salon, and nurtured specialist skill sets across our team.

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Homage to hairdressing history

Going hand-in-hand with the celebration of our space’s history is a miniature museum dedicated to hairdressing equipment of decades past, starting with hairdryers. Again, we kept costs at zero by crowdsourcing the old appliances from our customers. One call for contributions on our Facebook page was all it took. Crowdsourcing also allows our clients to directly and literally make the salon their own, strengthening salon relationships.

Many donated pieces have stories attached to them, which we’re developing into an online gallery where visitors will be able to read the history of each object on display. This ties into our strategy of blurring the lines between our physical space and digital presence. Also, the museum is shelved at one of our floor-to-ceiling windows, so it’s visible from the outside, too. Typography in the window reads ‘Clocks & Cannons’, a nod to the building’s clockface and rooftop artillery.

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Raiding the dumpster

We gathered up boxes of double-sided flyers we never used, as our social media marketing took the wheel. One side of the flyer is for Tony Wood Hairdressing, and the other side focuses on our evolved colour offering. The new dedicated area in our basement. That‘s something we wanted to showcase — and that’s when we got in touch with Dumpster Design, an upcycled fashion design firm around near us.

Dumpster’s designers took the boxes of flyers and turned them into an absolutely breathtaking dress. The black, white, and gold of the Tony Wood Hairdressing side gradually flows down into the colour side. This mirrors not only the trickle-down skill tree in our salon, but the physical location of the basement! We even had a photoshoot with the dress, with hair styled by our stylist and model, Tanahya. We hung the flyer dress proudly in our main salon space, and it continues to be one of the first things customers ask about.

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Cutting in the layers

Our salon now displays interior styles from many different decades, and clients have noted that every direction you look gives you something new and interesting to admire. Some walls were knocked out entirely, making the salon bigger, brighter, and more impressive.

We brought old furnishings out of storage which we’ve had hidden away in back rooms since we came to own the space, adding another dimension to the eclectic interior without paying a penny, and freeing up forgotten areas which we’ll be using to expand and diversify our services.

In some places, we’ve taken our interior right back to the brickwork.

In other places, we’re going to be reviving parts of the building which have been lost, but which there are photos of, allowing us to replicate the past. For example, our clocktower building was once a Hendy Ford showroom.

The wooden wall at the rear of this photo, with the two paintings hung on it, had a huge Hendy Ford mural painted on it, and that’s something we want to work with local signwriters and artists on bringing back.

One of the biggest costs every year is varnishing our floors. Not anymore! We’re letting it stay torn up. All those chairs wheeling back and forth all day every day actually leaves a really nice trace of activity.

This space shown in the photo? Before the De-renovation had us knocking down walls, this didn’t exist. We gained all the space where the lighter-colored floorboards are! Thus, we have more stylists and more clients in at once.

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Getting on
common ground

When you look at the clocktower from the outside, it’s easy to think of it as sort of triangular, leading into a perfect point. But the interior is a little harder to arrange. Until we started our de-renovation, there was a raised area near our entrance which had no solid use. It just had three small sofas on it.

We tore up the carpets from the platform and built the underlying wood into one long bespokely-shaped couch. It sits way more people and freed up floor space for more cutting positions.

Before the clocktower was our hairdressing salon, it belonged to an antiques dealer for five decades. He left lots of stuff behind when he sold us the building. One of those things was a set of old travel chests used for sailing. We extended their lives by utilizing them as tables in the reclaimed space.

Leftover wood from the raised area was used for shelving (front cover) and our hairdryer museum.

Reusing the

It’s an age-old hairdressing adage that it’s not about what you cut off — it’s about what you leave behind. The same goes for our salon. We wanted to reinstate an oak door entrance to Tony Wood Hairdressing, in place of a non-original window. We only discovered that the window was in fact the semi-opaque framework of a door when we started the removal process, and we definitely didn’t want to just discard a piece of the building’s history. We found the perfect third life for it.

It became our colouring table. When we reclaimed our basement space for our colouring studio, we fastened the hefty door to the ceiling using disused copper piping. Then we fitted it with modern ever-changing multicoloured lights, and kitted out the rest of the colour studio with antique, recycled, and upcycled furnishings. We seat our clients around the hanging table and use handheld mirrors. That way, they can interact with one another instead of just staring at themselves.

Protecting the past: the Castle Road Clocktower

As our de-renovation project really started picking up pace near the end of 2016, Portsmouth Society, a voluntary body who celebrate building preservation, approached us about the work we do on our building. It’s a century-old clocktower, and needs constant care and love. We often work around the clock to keep the building shipshape, carrying out maintenance and repairs, and keeping its story alive by word of mouth and on social media.

We won Portsmouth Society’s award for ‘Best Restoration’. It was a proud moment, having our hard work recognized by our city. The plaque has pride of place over our entrance.

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Some aspects of the restoration work have also been picked up by the press, including our restoration of two wooden statues which stand guard over the entrance of the salon!

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