Hair House ATX Honors Home with Expert Cuts, Color & Local Products
A new boutique salon has four chairs and a lot of love for Austin's creative spirit
Portraits by Kara Maria and Joeli Middlebrooks of Kara Marie Collective
“Hair is a fiber, just like cotton,” says Toni Jennings, co-owner of Austin’s unabashedly cool new Hair House salon. “If you wash a cotton shirt every day for six weeks, it’s going to be dull and falling apart. The same logic applies to your hair. Take care of it and respect it, or it will turn on you.”
Jennings has earned a fan base for her undone precision cuts and “punky, vibrant” colorist skills.
“My thing is taking high-maintenance colors and turning them into more realistic versions with regard to upkeep,” she says. Her fiancé and business partner, Tyler Cochran, specializes in fashion-forward, rock-and-roll-influenced cuts and artful balayage … what Jennings describes as “super organic with a great-looking grow-out.”
Jennings trained at the Paul Mitchell School in Dallas, Cochran at Minneapolis’s Aveda Institute, and both have over a decade of experience doing hair in Austin. Jennings has done editorial work for TRIBEZA and Austin Fashion Week, while Cochran’s resume includes New York and Paris Fashion Weeks and accolades in Allure magazine.
Hair House opened on October 25, 2020, after a grueling quarantine period that delayed its opening.
“We signed the lease in late February, and things shut down two weeks later,” says Jennings. “We still had to pay rent, minus any funding from PPP loans or the city. It was brutal, but we decided to grin and bear it.”
Despite the initial obstacles, Hair House has had clients clamoring for a fresh look or a return to self-care since last fall.
“COVID-19 initially scared our entire industry, because hair stylists and colorists are literally in people’s faces for a living,” says Jennings. “But I don’t know a single stylist not booked out for at least eight weeks ahead.”
The salon has just four chairs, and the ambiance and ethos reflect Jennings’ and Cochran’s commitment to the arts, sustainability and small local businesses. Texas-made clean beauty products and candles are displayed on reclaimed wood shelves made by Austin’s Aaron Victor Carpentry; the walls are adorned with works from local artists and photographers. Everything from the water delivery and complimentary beverages to the window cleaning service and graphic designers are from Austin.
“Tyler is also a musician, and I’m an artist, and as creatives and small business owners, we understand how hard it is to compete with big companies, especially these days,” says Jennings. “It was really important to us to boost our community, and we’re lucky to have a diverse clientele who love to support small businesses.”
Despite the challenges the pandemic has thrown their way, Hair House is a hit, and Jennings wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s always a risk opening your own business. This past year has simultaneously shaved years off my life, as well as saved it.”