Full hair care is what the talented, licensed and amicable stylists at Hair on Fire Salon/Spa provide to their clients. This salon, located in the heart of Port Warwick, offers highlights, corrective and vivid color treatments, haircuts, facial waxing, Brazilian blowouts, barbering, up-dos and make-up for special events, among its services. “And we’re therapists,” Cindy Williams, the owner of Hair on Fire, says with a smile. “Actually, we’re hair-apists,” chimes in William’s daughter and fellow stylist, Savannah, with a laugh. “Even if you take away the hair part of it, we offer an atmosphere different from other salons. Our salon has been around for more than 26 years, so we have had plenty of time to work on our people skills. We offer a little bit of something special,” Cindy Williams says.
Williams explains her approach to the world of hair styling, saying, “Everyone who walks through that door is beautiful, but sometimes our help is needed to see how beautiful that person really is. Male, female or children, it doesn’t matter.” Hair on Fire is run like a close-knit family of six, and the members of this family are Williams, 52; her daughter, Savannah, 27; Heather Loeb, 25; Ashlie-Nicole Servais, 29; Rachel Mills, 22; and the token gentleman of the group, Tom Leveille, 73.
Leveille has been with the business since its inception in the early 90s, having partnered with the then-owners of the salon, James Caldwell and Stephen Williams, Cindy’s late husband, who passed away a little over two years ago. Hair on Fire began its 12-year start in Hilton Village before relocating to Port Warwick. According to Williams, Hair on Fire is one of only two remaining original businesses in Port Warwick, having been hand-picked to locate there by Port Warwick developer Bobby Freeman, as he was a client of Leveille and was impressed with the business.
Williams is not the kind of owner who is above any task that her business requires. “I’ll do whatever needs to be done, and I wouldn’t expect any of our people to do anything I wouldn’t do, Williams says. Around the salon, you can always count on three things: “towels always need to be ready, hair needs to be swept and the phone will always ring when you are the absolute busiest,” Williams says. “I don’t think of these ladies as my employees. They are my girls, my stylists. We celebrate our birthdays with each other and have fun together. We really are a family. We laugh a lot.”
The studio space occupied by Hair on Fire was significantly renovated this past summer. “I wanted to create a space that was warm and soothing without seeming bourgeoisie or fluffy because that’s not who we are. I wanted to showcase our tools,” Williams says pointing to the large, red Craftsman tool chests parked in front of each station. “I want both men and women to come in and feel like they are in a comfortable zone that feels like home where they can relax and get their hair done. This is our happy place.”
“My station used to be my dad’s station and now it is my personal legacy,” adds Savannah. “Togetherness is what makes us different,” says Loeb. Servais remarks that all of the stylists are treated with respect, “and because we are treated well, we want to treat our clients well.”
Williams explains her business model as an expert in hair care. “We only want to make our clients happy,” she says. “They know why we are doing what we are doing because we explain it to them and educate them during our initial consultations. This includes what we can’t do, or won’t do, even if it is what the client wants, because we want them to leave with their hair on their head and not in a bag.”
Potential deregulation of professional hair styling has begun shaping the future and safety of the industry. “The knowledge behind what we do is at risk with deregulation,” says Williams. “There is a lot that goes into doing hair. What we do involves chemistry, biology, anatomy, math, electricity, color theory, psychology and hygiene.”
“For me, coloring is like painting and cutting is like sculpting,” says Savannah on her approach to hair styling. “It’s very artistic.”
Williams sees a second location for Hair on Fire in the future, but until that day, the stylists at Hair on Fire plan to continue greeting their clients with open arms and honesty. “We’re not going to judge you. We want our clients to come to our salon for a little, mini vacation. I guarantee you’ll laugh and you’ll be able to put the insanity of the world behind you. When you leave, you’ll feel a little better about life in general,” she says.
TO THE POINT:
Hair on Fire Salon/Spa
Address: 121 Walt Whitman Ave., Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Cindy Williams, owner