The backbone of our communities is that of small businesses: the often more visible brick-and-mortar as well as the service sector and specialty businesses, and everything in between. These businesses are run- and staffed by hardworking people who are devoted to their respective communities and the people who live and work in them. This month we are honored to feature one such local businesses, one which certainly has their finger on the pulse of all of the happenings in the greater Millerton area. The Hair Lounge has been “doing dos” for a number of years now, but there’s so much more to the business: the people behind it and the people who they help look their best. We were able to catch up with owner Loren Whiteley and learn more about more than just hair!

What is your business, when did you start it, and where can people find you?

We here at The Hair Lounge are a full-service hair salon specializing in hair color, cutting, and extensions. We opened in our current location at 143 Route 44 in Millerton, NY, in September of 2018.

How did this business come about and who are the people behind it?

Everyone at The Hair Lounge previously worked at Chad’s Hair Studio. After Chad’s sudden passing in January of 2018, I wanted a way to keep us all together and also to make Chad proud. The building that is now our home is across the street from where Chad’s was and it felt like a perfect new start.

There are six of us who work here at The Hair Lounge and we all have many years of experience. I’m Loren Whiteley, the owner, and I have over 20 years of experience. Tarah Kennedy is a color specialist who also has over 20 years of experience. Amy Carol and Kelly Kilmer each have over 20 years of experience doing color and cuts. Hailey Cookingham focuses on color and extensions and has been doing that for over five years, while Joe Musso has the most experience with over 30 years.

How has this business evolved over the years? Did covid have an impact?

We have continued to grow our clientele over the years. Our clientele has especially grown due to covid, because we’ve seen such an influx of people moving to the area and so our list has grown. Covid definitely gave us our challenges as we were forced to close for three months and I had to set the salon up entirely differently upon reopening to adhere to all new state guidelines. Salons are a pretty clean/sterile place to begin with and we all took a Barbicide-certified safety course to go over all the proper ways to sanitize our equipment. My staff all did a fabulous job with keeping our clients and each other safe when we reopened, and have continued to do so to this day.

What types of services do you offer?

We offer color, highlighting, cutting, facial waxing, extensions, Brazilian Blowouts, conditioning treatments and more. We are a Redken focused salon.

There are lots of hair salons around, so what sets you apart from your competition?

I don’t think of other local salons as competition, I think we are all fabulous in our own unique ways and I think that there’s a right hairdresser out there for everyone. I don’t like to think of my clients as “my own,” if someone else in the salon has a better way of doing something I’d rather them go to that person and for the client to get what they want.

What can people expect when they come to The Hair Lounge?

They can except a clean and friendly place while getting their services done. We are a fun group of girls and Joe that love what we do and have a great time doing it. There’s usually always a group conversation going on and often people say it feels like Cheers! We all take pride in our work and love making people feel their best.

Who are your customers and how do they find you?

We have customers from near and far, some that even travel from Florida! Word-of-mouth seems to be the best advertisement for us. Often times someone will say, “I saw someone with a great haircut and they recommended you.” We have the best clients that are willing to share us!

What kinds of certifications does one need for the services that you offer?

We are all New York State-licensed cosmetologists. We are also all certified in Brazilian Blowout and are a Redken exclusive salon.

What have been some of the challenges the business has faced?

Covid has for sure been the most challenging as we had to cut a full staff. When we were allowed to reopen we had to work alternate days to avoid overcrowding inside and to follow state guidelines. People are still uneasy being close to one another, which makes me sad, but I understand it. It really has changed the way we think and act.

What’s on the horizon going forward?

I hope that we are able to thrive and continue to grow our client base as well as continue making our clients happy as well. We have such a great community and I feel really lucky that we are where we are.

What advice would you have for someone starting their own business?

It’s not easy, but it’s so rewarding to be able to help out the community and impact people’s lives with what you have to offer!

To learn more about The Hair Lounge, you can reach them by visiting their salon located at 143 Route 44 in Millerton, NY. Call them at (518) 592-1167, or check them out on Instagram @hairloungebyloren.