Chrissy Hale is now the trendsetter.
To know that Midlanders take pride in their appearance only takes a casual glance when strolling on a sunny afternoon or seeing the other guests at one of the city’s oft-frequented eating establishments.
To know that entrepreneurship is alive in well in the Tall City, however, doesn’t require a count of the many oil and gas companies of all sizes popping up as favorable crude prices have accelerated the business pace. Rather, it can be experienced firsthand in Hale’s new salon and spa — the only business of its kind downtown.
Halo Hair and Beauty Bar, 100 N. Main St., Suite 103, is a place that makes tresses complement dresses, makeup match the mood and nails neat for a night out. Hale and her staff of stylists bring aesthetic trends to life, particularly on heads.
“Hair is your No. 1 accessory,” Hale said on recent afternoon sitting on a deep-blue velvet chair pedestalled in the pedicure area. “It’s something someone immediately notices about you.”
For the Joe James Salon and Day Spa veteran, the love of hair styling goes back to childhood. Hale would cut her own hair — and admittedly made some questionable choices along the way. But while she perfected her craft through the cosmetology program at Midland College and more than 10 years as a professional, she found that it’s far more than a way to make money.
“It’s being able to make people feel better about themselves and the interaction with people,” Hale said. “I think doing hair is a natural ability that I’ve been given, but it’s the people side that I really love. I absolutely love all of my clients. I consider them all friends.”
Hale knew since she was young that she wanted to style hair, but she also wanted to be her own boss. As her clientele has grown over the years, she found that many customers worked downtown, and a chance meeting with Mayor Jerry Morales helped her find a space in the heart of the city.
Hale and a friend helping her with business development were eating at the mayor’s Mulberry Café, and Morales was working there that morning. “I told him what I wanted to do, and he’s so enthusiastic about anything having to do with small business and downtown. He said to check out the Lofts, so I came here and looked at the space.”
After evaluating the available commercial space at Wall Street Lofts — and with plenty of help from the Small Business Development Center at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin developing the business plan — she committed to opening her salon downtown. Much development and revitalization is happening right now, but there are few retailers, eateries and services — the kinds of businesses that make areas a destination into the evening.
“It’s a huge risk, and I’ve calculated that, but I wanted to make a statement for Midland and for downtown,” Hale said. “I want to make it work, and I’m dedicated to make it work. I’m ready to see downtown really thrive, which people have wanted it to for years.
“Being from here, I’m really connected with the city. I love all of Midland, but as a little girl I loved downtown — the big buildings and the different vibe down here. I connect with it.”
As for the downtown experience so far, “I love it,” she said. “I love the downtown people — they definitely have their own style. We’re watching them through the window, and they’re watching us. We’re definitely getting people in already. The Lofts is a cool little community.”
Hale said she notices a lot of beards on men and a lot of cute businesswomen in dress skirts and jackets. “Everyone always looks good around here, and I like that.”
Looking good in dry West Texas isn’t easy, however.
“Moisture products are a huge seller,” Hale said. “I try to train the girls to be aware that most people’s hair here, because of the climate and other reasons, is dry. They have to be committed to doing it at home. That’s the only way it will work. You can’t just do it once every couple of months.”
Teaching people how to maintain their appearance is a core part of the service at Halo.
“Caring for yourself is a lifestyle. It’s not that people don’t care for themselves; it’s that they don’t know how to,” Hale said. “What we want is to educate them on small changes they can make, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You don’t need 10 million products — just two or three at home that will help you in between hair services.”
Hale says people should use a deep conditioner at home at least once a week, or two if their hair is colored. If adding heat to style hair, put some kind of protectant on it first.
Her top tip: Don’t use store-bought hair-coloring kits. “It really dries hair out and makes it break off. Being in this business so long, I’ve had some bad experiences with (kits). It can cause a chemical reaction when mixed with bleach, which is what we use as a lightener. When bleach mixes with metallic salts in the box color, it causes a chemical reaction that can burn your hair. You come to a salon to get a good, healthy color.”
Hale says Halo is a positive environment for both men and women. While being coiffed is important to men, having hair styled is especially important for women, particularly those who are undergoing medical treatments such as chemotherapy. “Hair is part of our identity, so when things outside our control start to impact our hair, it can be really devastating to our confidence. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve seen it happen. Having people come in that have those issues and me being able to help them really uplifts them.”
Trends in beauty change, but Hale hopes her business sets the example for other people to establish their own businesses downtown. “I want to be looked back at as someone who saw something that others didn’t see.”
As for Halo itself — with its contemporary décor, clean lines and metropolitan vibe — “I want it to be a common place for the community to gather, look good, feel good and hang out,” she said.