I’m at Boilerhouse, a new hairdresser on Boyd Street with a big neon sign outside. Inside, it is open plan, spacious and well lit. The décor is industrial; partly evoking the 50’s post war utilitarian approach to domesticity, whilst also following today’s quirky looking yet clean-cut alternative fashion sense.
There are ageing metal cabinets, an old pink Frigidaire, long fluorescent lamps and shiny black tiled walls. A large black couch lies at its heart, cosy and inviting, around a coffee table filled with magazines. The five, ample individual stations where most of the action occurs, are lined up against the long side wall.
At the back, the high-set windows sit above sprouting shoots of evergreen ferns and ivies stemming out of an equally curious assortment of containers, including a vintage baby pram. A young man greets me with a big smile and a firm handshake. He offers me a drink. We throw ourselves onto the cosy couch, and the interview begins.
Who are you? What do you make or do?
I am Felix Jones and I am a hairdresser.
Why do you do this?
It’s all I’ve done since I left school at 16; thirteen years ago.
Where did you first get involved, where did the idea come from?
My mum and dad have a salon in Jesmond by the same name. I worked there part-time as a kid for pocket money and I really enjoyed it. I always wanted to have my own salon. It was actually at Ernest that I came up with the idea to set it up in this area. And that’s because the Ouseburn Valley is like the Shoreditch of Newcastle, so edgy, full of artists and trendy cafes. It has such a good vibe.
Give us an idea of the background detailed planning that goes with what you do?
Getting the lease was the first hurdle. Then, we had to get planning permission. And once you’ve got those, there’s all the building work to plan and manage. It took a while to get it all done. And we’ve just begun, really. We are getting more and more customers, but it’s a lot quieter than the Jesmond branch. Now that we have the place, we have to promote it, first with local businesses and then with the students, when they return in September. And there’s a lot of work that goes into that, too.
What does a typical day look like?
On Mondays, we have in-house training. My mum Kim comes from the Jesmond branch to deliver it. She has 32 years of experience and a very loyal, solid clientele. She also comes regularly to oversee the work. Tuesdays to Fridays, we are open 9.30 am to 8pm. We are also open on Saturdays from 9 am to 6pm. Sundays is our day off.
Who do you like working with?
My whole team, really. I handpicked them myself. We have four stylists and two apprentices. The stylists are my cousin Saskia (who also delivers the in-house training in colour), Sally (our most experienced hairdresser who came from the Jesmond Branch), Hope (who was formerly a Junior Head apprentice in Jesmond and is now our youngest stylist, and myself. Our two apprentices are Brandon and Isaac. Brandon does the best head massages in town and Isaac is fantastic at blow-drying.
What is the most important thing that you have learned?
Patience, because there are so many things with the salon that take a while to achieve. There’s no point rushing anything. Better to take time and do them properly, and also that you never stop learning.
How do you see your future?
Busy. Happy. Positive. I see Boiler house growing as a business, hopefully to become as successful as the Jesmond branch, and hopefully expanding into the rest of the building. We want to expand our portfolio of services but we need more physical space for that. Watch this space!
Where can people find out more about what you do?
We are Boilerhouseouseburn on Facebook and Instagram. Our website is www.boilerhousehair.co.uk.
Right now, we have some very cool deals on. We have the Fizz Friday deals with 40% off the price for colouring and complimentary fizz, and a special 20% off colour deal running midweek for NHS workers. There’s also the student midweek offer with 40% off hair, and our 20% off their first cut/colour for new customers.