Down-home with style

Salon owner creates casual atmosphere in upscale environs

Brooke Holt’s attention to detail is evident, from her business’ hand-painted wall art to its custom-made pedicure station.

Brooke Holt’s attention to detail is evident, from her business’ hand-painted wall art to its custom-made pedicure station.

Photo by Melissa Daugherty

It would be understandable if first-time clients of The Hair Co. were intimidated walking into the seemingly chichi salon in north Chico. The place is decorated to the nines, with circular dropped soffits hanging from tall ceilings, recessed lighting falling softly on the putty-colored interior, where pops of turquoise stand out among black custom-made hair-styling stations.

But upon meeting stylist Brooke Holt, the shop's petite, unpretentious owner, who these days sports a platinum-blonde bob, those fears would immediately fade away.

“It's upscale, not uptight,” said the 33-year-old Holt. That distinction is her motto for the business, which opened about four years ago in the CVS shopping center at the corner of Lassen Avenue and The Esplanade. She prides herself on making the shop a warm, welcoming and fun environment, for clients and those who work there.

The salon's aesthetics are the culmination of Holt's artistic vision, but she credits her husband, Joe, with making that dream come true. She noted that he nudged her to open the place, and because he is a contractor, owner of Holt Construction whose specialties include commercial infill projects, turning an empty space into a high-end salon was feasible.

It was a good call. Business is booming. The salon employs 18 people: 12 hairdressers, three manicurists and an esthetician, all of whom rent a booth or a room, plus two receptionists who work directly for Holt. It's a lot to manage—requiring her to “find a balance,” as Holt, who has an 8-year-old daughter named Payton, put it during a recent interview at the salon.

Holt makes it work by cutting and styling hair three days a week, and keeping her evening appointments to a minimum. She has been a hairdresser for about 14 years and spent her entire career prior to opening her own shop at Blondie's Salon. She's worked with many longtime Chico stylists, including one of her mentors, Michael Almlie, who now works with her at The Hair Co. She recalled standing behind him when she was a new hairdresser and watching everything he did.

As if she isn't busy enough, Holt recently opened a second shop, 808 & Co., this time with a partner, Andrea Laukkonen. This sister salon, which is about half the size of The Hair Co., is located at Eighth and Cherry streets, in a part of the building that houses Holt Construction. That space, too, was an empty one that required a complete remodel to get the shop up and running.

“Now that it's open, I can breathe,” Holt said.

Becoming a business owner has been a rewarding enterprise for Holt, but she hasn't lost sight of her passion.

“Most of all, that artistic side to my personality, what feeds me, is doing hair,” she said. “I own this salon because I love to do hair.”