It's no secret that a lot of industries took a huge hit in 2020 - and the beauty industry was no exception. BUT, if there's one thing we love more than rosé here at TLSE, it's silver linings, and 1 Maples Lane is just that!
Following this drastic change in the way the beauty industry was able to operate, Nathan Jeffery (local hair colourist extraordinaire) came up with an innovative way to rethink the way standard beauty practices could function. As the first of its kind, 1 Maples Lane is a co-working, 'lock up and go' hair salon designed to encourage and facilitate freelance work. Situated in a hidden laneway just off of Prahran in Melbourne, this space is a reaction to the restrictive frustrations of the conventional hair salon model, using lockdown as the perfect excuse to shift gears and begin to cultivate a communal salon space.
Inspired by Palm Springs, the space is designed to offer a stylish atmosphere while allowing enough freedom for creatives to feel at home within the space. Along with an air of edgy charm and feeling of mid-century marvel, 1 Maples Lane features a central 'colour table' zone in the middle of the space - designed for clients to sit, sip or work rather than just gazing into the mirror, while also improving efficiency by allowing stylists to tend to various clients at a time - win, win!
So, how does it work? The rental system works on a monthly fee, and includes a secure locker space, hair trolley, and access to the full-stock, single-use client refreshments bar (we know, right?). On top of that, renters have access to all stations, basins AND premium floor stock - not to mention there is also a weekly deep clean is built into the rental price to keep the space sanitary and sleek.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Jeffrey and chat all things from his top styling tips, all the way to where his first-of-its-kind idea came about, so keep reading to learn more about what exactly makes 1 Maples Lane such an innovative and important space.
[TLSE] When did the inspiration for this collaborative working space begin to come about?
[Jeffrey] After the beauty industry took a huge hit in the peak COVID era, I left my salon role to the flexibility and excitement of freelance work. Searching for freedom and feeling frustrated with the conventional hair salon model, lockdown proved the perfect time to shift gears and pull the trigger on cultivating a space of my very own (while welcoming other hair colourists and stylists in).
The rental system at 1 Maples Lane works on a monthly fee, allotting a secure locker space, hair trolley and access to the fully-stocked, single-use client refreshments bar. I see 1 Maples Lane as an antidote to the anxieties and rigidities of working in a conventional salon.
With this lock-up-and-go model, you can be your own boss (sans commitment). The flat rate per month allows for flexibility and come-as-you-please ease, with total autonomy, a safe space to store your tools and a fridge to store some G&Ts for you and your client to share if that's how you roll.
Was it ever daunting implementing such an innovative idea?
Not at all. COVID was a learning curve, but it gave me a push to build the studio in a faster and smarter way. I’ve heard of other salons that do co-working, but we’re the first to finesse a lock-up-and-go storage system with power to charge personal eftpos machines and hair tools.
"It is always more exciting than daunting to give other hair professionals a chance to own their own business within a business. That collaboration is really special."
What is one of your favourite experiences so far throughout your career?
It’s been an eventful 18 years. I’d have to say it was the experiences that came from being titled Redken’s Future Colourist of the year in 2008. I worked backstage at New York Fashion Week, meeting some incredible mentors and garnering serious diversity of knowledge on how hair professionals operate and their myriad ways of working overseas. This all really influenced the thinking behind 1 Maples Lane.
What is one of your top styling/hair care tips you don’t think enough people know of?
It has to be blow-wave preservation. People have an oh-my-god reaction when I tell them this easy trick. Post-blow, flip your head upside down and pull all of the hair to the top of the head. Twist it all around until you look like a unicorn, then wrap it around itself to create a sort of loose bun. Secure with 4-5 bobby pins and ensure this little head-topper you’ve created isn’t squished between your head and the pillow at all. This hack retains all volume, movement and body when you take your hair out next morning, sans frazzled ends or kinks.
What was the visual inspiration behind this space?
It’s very Palm Springs inspired, with a Melbourne edge. The space is loosely divided by white curtains and adorned with locally-sourced furnishings that offset the vivid white vault. There are scatterings of tall, aged cacti sourced by Nina Pederson, Fenton & Fenton potter, and an original Willy Rizzo coffee table from the 70s from Smith Street Bazaar. I love the mix of old and new that drives the feel of the space, with a focus on fusing perfection with imperfection.
The idea of a ‘colour table’ where clients can sit and relax while their colour sets in is a really innovative idea - was there anything specific that inspired this concept?
It’s been done long before, so I can’t take all the credit. The central table is a trend that came from overseas. In America and the UK, hairdressers are trained as either colourists or stylists, so this shared zone for clients to wait in works perfectly as a transitional point.
If you had to pick one word to describe 1 Maples Lane, what would it be?
Top piece of advice to give a freelance hair stylist/colourist just starting their career?
Make sure you have a great Instagram business account for your own work. This way, all of your clients are following you and can keep up to date with your journey and how you’re operating, be it freelance or in-studio. When you make a move or take a leap to go solo, they can find you.
WORDS | Brittany Ross
IMAGERY | Nathan Jeffrey