By Ginger DeShaney
The banter between Lisa Walsh and Nikki McCart is easy because they’ve been friends forever. They finish each other’s sentences. They laugh a lot because, well, they are downright hilarious.
The second you are in their presence, you feel like family.
And that’s exactly how they want it.
Lisa, 41, and Nikki, 37 — who were both born and raised in Southie — opened MW Hair Studio at 401 W. First St. (right next to Publico) on Oct. 1 and the atmosphere is very welcoming.
“The goal is to make everybody feel like they have someplace they belong,” Lisa said.
“We want everyone to feel comfortable and at home and relaxed,” Nikki said. “That’s kind of the vibe we like in here. It’s like you’re in a living room getting your hair done.”
Added Lisa, “When people come in, they make themselves right at home; it’s easy.”
“It’s like a second home,” Nikki said.
Nikki worked as a bank manager for eight years in Southie before following her passion to the beauty business. She went to beauty school and Lisa hired her as an assistant at a local salon.
“I like doing hair. It relaxes me,” Nikki said. “It’s fun. It doesn’t feel like a job.”
“If you do what you love, you never work a day in your life,” Lisa said.
“I like making people feel good about themselves,” Nikki said.
Lisa, who is a master stylist, didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up, so she gave hairdressing a shot and fell in love with it. She’s been in the business for 22 years.
“Meeting new people and having people be happy when they leave my chair … that’s the power that drove me to continue to want to keep doing this,” Lisa said.
Lisa was at their previous salon for 14 years; Nikki for 8. “I wanted a change in my life at that time,” Lisa said. “It’s a constant evolution and it just felt like we got to a place there where we reached the peak of growth. It was just time. But it felt organic. We were ready.”
Lisa’s goal had always been to own her own place. “I just have a way that I like things to go,” she said.
They looked at spaces on West Broadway but they didn’t want to be on the main drag. “We’re tucked away in a residential area and it’s not wild and crazy,” Nikki said. “It’s just nice and relaxing and quiet.”
Neighbors have stopped in and welcomed them to the neighborhood.
Having never worked in this area, they are attracting a new clientele, they said, noting they’ve already gotten a lot of foot traffic. “It opens up a new world of possibilities,” Lisa said, noting many of their clients have also followed them to the new space.
“We consider ourselves a craft cutting and color salon because Lisa is a master stylist,” Nikki said. They offer hair services that include styling, cutting, color, highlights, balayage. Their cliente includes women, kids, and men.
“We are very experienced in our field and we don’t have anyone specific that we would target,” said Lisa. “We really want everybody to feel like they can come here.”
“… from your kids to your grandmother,” Nikki added.
“I want people to feel like, no matter what they’re looking for, that they’ll be heard,” Lisa said. “And our goal is to have people genuinely feel like they can trust us with what they’re looking to get done.
“Whatever your need is, if you want something chic, if you want something in funky and crazy colors, if you want the Jennifer Aniston, if you just want a trim,” said Lisa, “… I just want you to feel that no matter what it is you’re looking for, you should feel comfortable here.”
The studio is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Lisa and Nikki do a lot of weddings on weekends. During the holidays, they’ll be open on some Saturdays.
They still have some finishing touches to complete on the studio, such as adding a TV (and Netflix), putting up curtains, and having a wall mural done.
The intimate studio has just two chairs so at most there would be four people in at a time. “It’s almost like an old-school salon where you all sit and have a group chat,” Nikki said.
Now that they have their own place, another goal is to give back to the community. “We were both born and raised here,” Nikki said. “We’ve worked here our whole lives so we really wanted to be able to give back.”
They donate to local fundraisers and organizations, and sponsor kids and teams. “The goal is to be more involved in general,” Lisa said.
And where did the name come from? While sitting at Loco drinking coconut margaritas one day, they ran through names of crystals, flowers, and the like, but most of them were already taken. “Why not make it more us? What about MW Hair Studio?” said Lisa, who calls Nikki, “the M to my W.”
“I feel like [studio] makes it more personable,” Nikki said. “It’s very customy. It’s a lot of custom cutting and color.”
“And people feel like they are getting a unique experience,” Lisa said. “The idea of it being a hair studio makes it a little different. I don’t want to be like anybody else.”
“No, I want to be like us,” Nikki said.
- Website and to book online: MWhairstudioboston.com
- Phone: 617-752-4212
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @mwhairstudioboston