Carradale’s organic h’Airds salon leads the O – Way

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Words and photographs Mark Davey

A hair stylist and barber have left the west of England’s city streets for Kintyre’s quality of life.

Vegetarian husband and wife team Annik and Michael Wintle-Brown have opened Kintyre’s first salon – one of only 30 in Scotland – using Italian O-Way organic products.

These are plastic free and ‘cruelty free’ as they are not tested on animals.

As well as being made with organic chemistry, they are packed in amber glass bottles which keep the product fresh and are more easily recyclable.

Annik and Michael, who recently opened Carradale’s h’Airds salon in a former holiday chalet, fell in love with the area after a stylist, Lucy Freeman, also from Gloucester, shared photos online.

Last Thursday client Lesley Freeman, explained, as Annik styled her hair in Carradale: ‘We moved here more than three years ago when my husband Darren took a job with CS Wind. Lucy, my daughter, who worked with Michael stayed a few times.’

Michael said: ‘The photos looked amazing on Facebook and we started to look at maybe moving to Scotland.

‘We bought one of the Airds cottages at Carradale as a holiday home and did not realise it was in the area to which Lesley had moved.’

Annik added: ‘Originally it was just a holiday home but each time we returned to Gloucester we wondered ‘why not move?

‘We never thought we would have a salon with a view of the sea.’

Neither barber Michael or hair stylist Annik began their careers in hairdressing but both describe themselves as creative and as ‘enjoying working with their hands’.

Annik said: ‘I graduated from Lincoln University with a master’s degree in the conservation of historical artefacts and worked in the heritage sector as an object conservator for 11 years.

‘I love hairdressing, it is very creative. Before I could work all day in a museum workshop and never see anyone.

‘In conservation I had a very niche skill set but the job might have disappeared. Hairdressing is so social and I love listening to people.’

Michael left school part way through A-levels wanting to work in a record shop or fashion, eventually qualifying as a sound engineer.

Before taking up barbering, he worked in Cheltenham Music Library. He transferred to the main library which was next door to where Annik carried out her conservation work.

The couple gained planning permission for change of use last September and set about creating the salon.

There are no sharp edges to the furniture and to enhance the natural feel wood floors, a drift wood coat stand and driftwood sculptures have been added.

‘Carradale’s community has been very supportive,’ said Michael, who also teaches barbering and is an NVQ level three assessor. ‘We were a bit worried about opening in January but have been quite busy.

‘I’ve been encouraged by how many gents enjoy luxury hot towel shaves and look forward to providing the service to summer tourists. Hopefully we have brought something different to the area.

‘We offer a high level of service that is very affordable as we do not have the overheads of a city salon.

‘We have already had one client who has been coming to the area for 15 years. Last time she was in Carradale she intentionally booked with us rather than in Glasgow.’

Michael Wintle-Brown at h’Airds salon in Carradale. 25_c09h’Airds01_Hair_Salon_Carradale

Annik Wintle-Brown styles Lesley Freeman at h’Airds salon in Carradale. 25_c09h’Airds02_Hair_Salon_Carradale