New Greenwood Avenue salon opens with intimacy and style

by | Nov 15, 2010

Editor’s note: For the latest story in our series of Small Business Spotlights, we venture a little out of the neighborhood up to Broadview. This story was written by PhinneyWood’s intern, Tyler Steele, a journalism student at the University of Washington.

Despite many neighborhood businesses closing or moving in the last few months, stylist Charity Detwiler is celebrating the grand opening of Salon Ahda on Greenwood Avenue in Broadview with an open house on Saturday.

“I always had crazy ideas about owning my own business,” owner and operator Detwiler said as she gave her husband, Todd, a scalp massage and shampooing before his bi-weekly haircut. “The salon’s name came from my nephew, who mispronounced ‘aunt’ as a small child.”

Charity gives her husband, Todd, his bi-weekly haircut before getting back to work putting the finishing touches on their new salon.

Detwiler, who has been cutting hair for 15 years, brought three co-workers from her previous salon and hired them as independent contractors.

“A few salons do it this way — it’s rare, but I didn’t want to be someone’s big boss,” she said while using clippers to trim around her husband’s ears. “We all wanted a smaller, more intimate place where everyone knows you.”

When her previous employer chose to expand his operation, that’s when she said, “it was time to open my own place to keep it small.”

Salon stylist Jintana Wongvanit, who has been cutting hair for 19 years, said “I consider my profession as an art; if it’s too noisy I can’t be creative.”

Stylist Jintana Wongvanit and salon owner Charity, after a recent weekday shift.

As for being located on Greenwood Avenue, Charity admitted, “I feel safer here compared to where we were on Aurora, and lots of people walk around — so nice and community oriented.”

“We love this neighborhood,” Wongvanit added, coming back with a bottle from the front shelf, fully stocked with Redken and Sebastian products. “There’s so much great food, and I love to see all the people walking their dogs.”

“It was a good time for us to open up,” Charity said in between the buzzing of the clippers, “mostly because I had the right support — the girls that came with me, my family and my husband.”

Todd Detwiler, a research scientist for the University of Washington’s Department of Biological Structures, helped his wife do most of the work necessary to open up a few weeks early.

“We basically installed a bunch of stuff and did a lot of painting,” he said. “We did what we could.”

The Detwilers admitted opening a small business during difficult economic times is a risk. However, they said their timing was based on careful planning and a sound business plan.

“For starters, what I’m observing is that people are still getting their hair cut, and it’s nice not having to start from scratch,” Todd said as he stood by the front entrance with a fresh new buzz cut.

“Our clients are very supportive and agreed to come with us,” Charity said, looking out at passing traffic on Greenwood Avenue. “And women aren’t willing to give up their cut and color because looking their best is still very important.”

“But, it doesn’t matter how much money I make,” said Wongvanit. “I want to walk out of the place happy.”

“I didn’t do it for the money,” Charity agreed. “I just wanted control over my environment.”

Wongvanit smiled at that and said, “If you do what you love, the money will come.”

Salon Ahda’s grand opening is from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 14300 Greenwood Ave. N., Suite B. Wine and appetizers will be served. Make an appointment to get your hair cut, styled or colored by calling 206-552-2432.

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