This month’s tenant spotlight is Astaya Hair, a Branston Court resident whose business was born out of a passion for more ethical, natural hairdressing. Having been up and running for 7 years in Birmingham city centre before choosing to set up shop with us in the Jewellery Quarter – Astaya is a popular choice for those looking to get a little closer to nature for their beauty needs.
We couldn’t wait to get chatting to owner and creative director, Sarah Simpson-Davies, to find out more about Astaya’s mission for earth-friendly hair, where it all began and why she chose Branston Court as a home for her business.
Hi Sarah, tell us a little bit about Astaya and what makes you different from other salons?
We’ve been in business for around 7 and a half years now and we’re an organic, eco-friendly, cruelty-free salon. Meaning that no animal products or nasty chemicals are used in any of our products and we strive to use all natural products on our clients. We’ve always been very conscious of where our products come from, how they’re made and how they make our customers feel.
How did you get started?
I’d always worried about the amount of chemicals used in hairdressing, but the event that really pushed me to look for alternative methods was when my grandmother got brain cancer.
She’d been using harsh chemicals on her hair for years and it just made me think, whether it had contributed or not, that it can’t be good for us. I soon stopped using chemical products on myself, and then in turn I stopped being okay with using them on my clients and it sort of evolved from there.
Then I started looking into vegan hairdressing – that side of what we do is really close to my heart, it’s just so much better to use organic products that are free from animal testing.
We think it’s a wonderful thing you’re doing, so what made you choose your space in Branston Court on Vyse Street?
We’d been in the city centre for a long time and it never felt quite right to us. It was very busy and the energy wasn’t right, we wanted people to come in and feel relaxed – it was important that our space was in tune with what we do.
We started looking at other areas and as soon as we came here, it just felt right. The history of the Jewellery Quarter gives it a depth that was just didn’t get at our old place. It’s a nice place to work, it’s easy to commute to from the centre and it’s just really chilled out and calm.
What do your clients think of your new space?
Since we’ve moved, we get more people who find us for a reason rather than wandering in if that makes sense. It seems to be our morals and beliefs that bring people to us, I would say at least 80% of our clients have followed us here and will come out of their way to get their hair done with us. They love how easy it is to get to and the fact that they can park here.
What have you done with the salon to make it your own?
Luckily it was already set up quite nicely as a salon with basins and cutting stations. Most of what we’ve done has been cosmetic, so we brought in all of our décor and plants. We recycle all our old products, as you can see we use them as decorative bottles around the place so that nothing goes to waste.
What’s your favourite thing about being an UrbanWorkSpace tenant?
I’d have to say it’s the variety of interested businesses that are based here – it’s really nice to see so many likeminded people building their businesses under one roof. I’ve been around and spoken to people and the sense of community is just such a far cry from what we were used to in the city.
What’s your favourite lunchtime spot around the Jewellery Quarter?
Vee’s Deli is great, it’s only round the corner. She makes the most amazing pizza slices and there’s a lot of locally sourced products in there.
What do you like to do around the JQ in your spare time?
I’ve just had a baby so I don’t tend to stay out for after work drinks, I do however have a keen interest in yoga. I actually trained to be an instructor, I plan on travelling to India to finish my training eventually.
There’s a great yoga class near the Pen Museum, called City Yoga. Matty is a great teacher!
Have you got any future plans to improve the salon in any way?
I’d love to change our lighting to be a little more atmospheric, I’m also gradually looking at bringing in more reclaimed stuff in to make it more environmentally friendly. We’d love to bring more plants in as well to breathe some new life into the place.
You can find out more about Astaya Hair and the treatments they offer here.