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Fashion Stores

The Saloon

Posted by Dayna Winter / Posted on December 25, 2010

The Saloon TorontoThe Saloon seems more like a Queen St. tattoo parlour or vintage shop than the quaint Harbord Street salon that it is. Unlike my usual salon - with its perfectly aligned modern chairs, and an all-in-black cast of snooty coiffeurs - Saloon's atmosphere is refreshingly casual. Mix-and-match vintage barber chairs and 60s vinyl furniture pop against intense purple walls, barbershop checked floors, and gaudy (but good-gaudy) ornate gold trim. There isn't really a "reception area" to speak of, aside from an unattended children's school desk, and I momentarily didn't know where to start. My visit, you should know, wasn't entirely work - I was here for a hair overhaul.

I'm cheating on my stylist (sorry, Lynzee). But for the purposes of this post (and for the sake of my sad excuse for a hair style) I wanted to get the full experience. Plus, I knew that a stylist-client relationship would yield much juicier details. Today, I wasn't a reporter but just another head of hair to absorb salon gossip.

The Saloon TorontoAlthough I had an awkward millisecond upon entering, salon co-owner (and my hair saviour for the next two hours) Kat Marcus, greeted me with a bubbly "hello" and invited me to take a seat. I was on time, and she was ready for me. This part is always nerve-wracking. I cut my own hair for 10 years, and coloured it with $6 boxed dye, convinced that nobody could possibly get it right but me. I warmed to the idea of putting my locks in the hands of a professional only 3 years ago. Aside from the odd self-administered emergency bang-trim, I haven't gone back.

The Saloon TorontoThis was a new stylist, however. I came armed with a Photoshop collage of inspiration. "Oh, I love inspiration!" Marcus exclaimed. I was still on the fence between a Michelle Williams crop with long bangs and a much lighter colour, or a cleaned-up version of my own dark-brown shoulder-length do. We opted to keep it long, and correct the mess I had made with drugstore colouring. Marcus' suggested that I not put too much stress on my hair by going too light. I was in good hands.

The Saloon TorontoMarcus, business partner Daina Schreiber and I chatted for two hours in an otherwise empty salon. Clients came and went, but with only two stylists in a small open space, it's pretty intimate. The duo has been in business in the Ossington and Harbord spot for three years now (although I had never spotted it on frequent bike rides past the location). A steady stream of loyal customers keep them busy and I was lucky to score an appointment so close to the holidays. You're outta luck for a New Year's do, though - they're booked through until the fourth.

The Saloon TorontoMarcus is a peppy blonde ("It's not my natural colour") with a clear passion for hair. I loved that she cared about delivering results I could grow with. We mulled over next-time possibilities (which may or may not include a drastic chop), and laughed about our similar histories of hair-based rebellion. While my colour developed, my almost-namesake Daina and I bonded over an insane love of dogs and hip-hop karaoke while sipping Americanos bought by the upstairs contractor.

The Saloon TorontoThere's something so fragile/sacred about my relationship with my hair that the professional resume of a stylist almost takes a back seat to personality. Why is it important for someone wielding scissors over my head to "get" me? Is it a girl thing? While Marcus is an award-winning and media-acclaimed stylist, I was much more impressed with her vibe, enthusiasm and gift of gab. We clicked. I'll be back, and not because I was really happy with my hair (which I was) but because The Saloon is somewhere I want to spend time. Plus, a girl on a budget can't turn down a free bang-trim.

Photos by Dennis Marciniak.

Discussion

17 Comments

grumps / December 26, 2010 at 08:50 am
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before and after pix plzz.
K-Line / December 26, 2010 at 10:45 am
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Kat is my stylist and I LOVE her! She and Dana have created a fantastic atmosphere at the Saloon which I would recommend to anyone...
Warren / December 26, 2010 at 05:49 pm
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Changing the name from 'Glam' to 'Saloon', will not disguise the reality that they (Kat in my case at least) do a poor job with cutting hair (at least mens).
Tinky / December 28, 2010 at 01:30 pm
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Be it shop talk or a dance party, this salon always boasts a good time. Kat and Daina are amazing. Kats been doing my hair for almost 10yrs and i wouldnt let anyone else touch my head.
Janice / December 28, 2010 at 06:50 pm
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Kat Marcus has been cutting my hair for about six years now. Prior to Kat I really trusted no one and rarely ventured to the professional world for a 'do'. I have to say that I have always been thrilled with the colour and styles that Kat has created for me. Recently, I went through about a year of chemotherapy and during that time Kat selected and styled wigs that were so like my own hair it even fooled the chemo nurses. She made me feel wonderful and talked about all the interesting styles we could try while my hair was growing back. I love going to the shop. It is comfortable and entertaining and it is always nice to chat with Kat's partner Daina as well.
Leigh-Anne / December 29, 2010 at 01:41 am
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Kat & Daina provide a truly intimate and friendly atmosphere for fantastic and affordable service. Not many Toronto salons can boast the same.
Skylar / January 3, 2011 at 02:57 pm
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Awesome! The slow transformation from Glam to the Saloon has been cool to watch. Kat has been taking care of my hair for... as long as I can remember. As a nerdy guy who is usually too busy nerding out to take care of my hairs she cuts it just right so that I need not worry too much. Not to mention how she has managed to deal with and work with my extremely odd cow lick structure so my head looks normal and no one is the wiser. Its a lot of fun to even just hang out with the girls as they are all kinds of fun.
Kirsten / January 4, 2011 at 08:20 am
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Daina is a true artist with a pair of scissors & even more brilliant with her colorist abilities. She has a way of knowing what you want & what suits you....sometimes better than you do yourself. I honestly wouldn't trust anyone else with my hair and have been blown away each and every time she has worked her magic on me. Daina is a joy to be around & will keep you laughing & entertained your entire visit. She and Kat have created an amazing space that is a must visit. Congrats guys !!!
Dawn replying to a comment from Tinky / January 4, 2011 at 11:00 am
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I'm really sorry to hear you had a bad experience! My husband gets his hair cut by Kat and he walks out looking like a rockstar every time.

No one touches my hair but Kat! :)
Dawn / January 4, 2011 at 11:02 am
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I am sorry, my comment was for Warren not Tinky! :)
Mark / January 4, 2011 at 04:51 pm
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Daina at the Saloon, (which is a much better name than GLAM), has been primping me for the last two years. After spending a lackluster few years visiting the revolving door of stylists at the Queen West discotheque known as Coupe Bizzare,I was referred to Daina through a friend, and I have never looked back. My hair always looks amazing, and is easy to manage, which is a plus since I'm often to lazy to do much more than run my hands through it in a vague parting motion. Daina's cuts always grow out well, which is good for those of us who aren't the best at making hair appointments. Glad to hear that you guys are getting the props you deserve! The salon, er Saloon, looks great!
Jaimie / January 4, 2011 at 08:14 pm
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Daina's been highlighting and cutting my hair for years, and yet she never fails to take the time at every appointment to really discuss with me what I'd like to do with my hair. She gives carefully considered advice, and my hair always turns out just the way we have decided it should. She's very professional, but she's also a ton of fun and will keep you laughing and entertained while you're in the chair! Plus, she recently gave my husband the best haircut I think he's had in years. Kudos to Daina and Kat on this recognition.
Janna / January 10, 2011 at 04:25 am
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you won't meet a cooler chick than daina....she's unlike a lot of hairstylists because she actually listens to you and most of all wants you to feel beautiful.....plus she's lots of fun, will have inappropriate conversations with you, is known to spontaneously burst into song and she is dedicated to what she does.....so ya! congrats on the old/new salooooooooooooon friends!
Kate / January 15, 2011 at 06:28 pm
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I booked an appointment on a whim after reading this review and Kat cut my hair today - and I love it. And I am horribly picky. I used to have an amazing hairdresser before I moved to Canada and I still miss her! This is a great salon. And the two girls are sound. I enthusiastically re-booked my appointment for 6 weeks time.
Mark / January 16, 2011 at 05:11 pm
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Daina has been doing my hair for a little over a year now and I always leave loving what she's done. Great atmosphere, great ladies, super down-to-earth. Highly recommend.
omgirrrlie / August 24, 2011 at 10:16 pm
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Daina has been doing my hair for 5 years and I've gone from funky short colourful dos to now long layered all one colour locks and have never been disappointed! She and Kat have evolved in these years to being literally the best hair salon... or should I say saloon in these parts ;o) Giddy Up!
Warren / August 25, 2011 at 12:34 am
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The writing style of most of these glowing comments indicates that they are being written by the same person each time.

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