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The Shop at Shaw's AC and Jamie Lynn // Photo: Trent Johnson

The Future is Now at The Shop at Shaw

Jamie Lynn and Aaron Claxton are something of a dream team. With a bevy of talented stylists – ones who put their art and customer care first – the co-owners opened The Shop at Shaw in 2018. In the year they’ve been open, the team has cultivated a different kind of salon environment. Cuts are genderless, the salon is receptionless, and creativity and inclusion are just as important as making sure you leave with a style that reflects your individuality. We chatted with Claxton (better known as AC) and Lynn about what makes their salon so pioneering, their passion for hair, and how they hope to encourage positive change and lead by example in the world of hair and beyond through their business.

On Tap: What first drew each of you to hair?
AC: As a kid, I always cut hair – like in my basement. I was in a lot of rock bands, so I did a lot of mohawks and some weird design stuff. My mom said I couldn’t live in the basement and play the guitar and not go to school or work. So, I walked into the [hair] salon where my girlfriend then – wife now – was getting her hair done because she was a hair model for a show. I looked around and was like, “These people are like me.” They’re listening to music. There’s this cool vibe. They’re not behind the desk – they’re being social, they’re being creative. I started sweeping the floor there the next weekend and continued to work on music, and then obviously just focused on the hair.
Jamie Lynn: My background is actually in art and I love everything aesthetically pleasing. I have a very visual eye, and I am very creative. I just kind of segued into hair. I always wanted to do it. I really like makeup [and] everything from fashion, so I just pushed myself and made myself do it. I was running a beauty salon out of my college bathroom. I thought I had another career in mind but then I was like, “Oh wait, I think I like this a lot.”

OT: How did you come together to open The Shop at Shaw?
AC: We came together because I had already found the space. I was building it out and ready to go. I was looking for someone to be my right hand – someone who could be down here all the time to kind of run the show, which is what Jamie does. Two of my best buddies from high school [the Wilder brothers] own two restaurants here in Shaw: Chaplin’s and Zeppelin. They used to come to me for years. But then once they got super busy down here, they started seeing Jamie. I was looking for someone [to work with] and they told me, “You’ve got to meet this lady.” So, we went and got a drink.
JL: I had a vision of shaking things up – changing and curating things into a new idea of what a business behind hair would be. We’re receptionless [and] genderless. We let people run their own business within ours and we are all artists first, so everybody that we hire is an artist. Anything that anybody can bring to the table in that regard moves us forward.


AC’s Work Must-Haves
Hattori Hanzo shears
Work apron
Wahl 5-Star Cordless Magic Clip clippers
My amazing crew
My amazing work environment

AC Can’t Live Without
My wife Erin
My three kids Colette, Charlie + Maeve
Recording studio
Guitars
Boat + fishing gear


OT: Tell me more about the services you offer, especially the genderless cuts. Why was it important to you to set up your services this way?
JL: The biggest thing [with] the genderless [cut] is looking a little bit at the pink tax, [and] knowing that this was one of the last things that was acceptable for a woman to be charged more for – no matter the length of her hair or the length of time it took. It’s a no-brainer. We actually based it on the length of time it takes to do your hair. We’re kind of forgiving in any area when people book wrong – we just have to re-educate them. So saying, “This is actually what it means to cut medium-length hair, so it’s a medium-length appointment.” But it could also still be a long appointment. I tell people that have two inches of hair [but still] want to spend some extra time with me to book a long appointment.

OT: Do you find people are more comfortable with genderless services and feel empowered to embrace styles that truly make them feel like themselves?
JL: We definitely have targeted a very gender-neutral clientele. It’s really rewarding the first time you see somebody that got to book a medium haircut and they identify as they.
AC: It’s pretty rad, and as Jamie said, just a no-brainer. It’s just fair.

OT: Getting your hair done is both personal and an art form. How do you help your clients express themselves when it comes to hair?
AC: Part of it has to come naturally. Not everybody’s cut out for this. You can give some guidelines to people and you can get guidelines from people about what’s okay to talk about what’s not okay to talk about – What do you bring up? What do you leave out? – but I think 90 percent of it is you.
JL: I think it’s communication – having a clear understanding and building a relationship with trust. Make sure that you’re on the same page before you actually go in and touch somebody. Your head is a very intimate area. It’s also just admitting when something’s not your skillset. That’s how we end up really working as a team. Not everyone’s strong on the same thing. Even though it’s considered one industry, we all have different areas within that industry.


Jamie’s Work Must-Haves
Listerine strips
IGK Jet Lag Dry Shampoo
A good Spotify playlist
Interesting humans
Lysol

Jamie Can’t Live Without
A solid true crime podcast // documentary
Cheese
Glitter
Honda Ruckus
Fluffy animals


OT: What’s been the most unexpected thing you’ve experienced since you got your start in this field?
AC: Just how great everyone’s done in the first year. I am proud of Jamie and myself and our staff. Also, just the amount of love we got from the neighborhood right off the bat. I knew people would grow to like us, but it was like instantaneous love and it’s been awesome.
JL: I came from Logan Circle and I was there for seven years, and not a single person in the neighborhood knew my name. Before we even opened here, this entire neighborhood was so receptive and knew our names and couldn’t wait for us to open. It’s more of a community feel. Everyone was like, “We want to partner with you [and] see what we can do for you” and we were like, “Is this the city?”

OT: What is your hope for the future of hair, both as a business and how people approach their individual styles?
JL: I would like for it to grow to be more inclusive [and] more well-known for the art behind it and what it actually takes to become a great artist behind the chair.
AC: More inclusive with more safe and creative spaces. We got more involved with not just the art of doing hair but music, painting and all kinds of creative stuff.
JL: Instead of just going in to have an appointment, a lot of our guests come in earlier. We have free Wi-Fi and a bar that sets up where you can put your laptop while your hair is processing. We partnered with DC Brau so we always have a keg on tap. People will grab a beer and just chill out. It has a little bit more of that hipster, “Oh, I actually belong here” feeling instead of feeling like, “Oh God, I’m here and everyone’s looking at me. My hair is not done. Do they notice my roots?” Just more, “Oh, I actually belong.”

Follow The Shop at Shaw on Instagram @theshopatshaw and learn more at www.theshopatshaw.com.

The Shop at Shaw: 1924 8th St. #145, NW, DC; 202-265-7467; www.theshopatshaw.com

Photo: Trent Johnson

A Day in the Life with Sense’s Erin Derosa, Hairstyler and Healer

There’s a beautiful, navy-blue row house tucked on the street of DC’s ever-growing Park View neighborhood. It’s home to Sense, a place that started as a salon but has quickly evolved into the multifaceted passion project of hairstylist and healer Erin Derosa. In addition to cut and color services, on any given day you can find local artists displaying their talents, workshops lead by various community members and breathwork sessions held by Derosa herself.

While the initial reaction to this three-part business under one roof might cause mild confusion, it’s all more connected than at first glance. And with Derosa’s holistic approaches to hair, healing and now art, she brings an understanding to the salon chair that will leave more than just your hair transformed. We talked to Derosa about her love of hair, why DC needs a space for creativity and healing, and what’s next for this innovative space and her team.

On Tap: How did you get your start as a hairstylist?
Erin Derosa:
I always wanted to do hair. But my mom told me I had to go to college, which I’m super thankful for. When I moved to DC, I had a job that I hated so much and it was this pivotal moment. I ended up changing my path and going to hair school and finding my passion for hair, and the rest is history. I worked at Immortal Beloved [on 14th Street] for five years before I left to open this spot.

OT: How did that lead to you opening Sense?
ED:
I’ve always had this entrepreneurial thing about me. When I was little, I had this gift-wrapping business called “You Buy, We Wrap,” so I’ve always had this spirit. But it came up naturally. I was really ready for this shift in my life and for things to change a little bit. It all aligned, and here I am.

OT: How does the wellness element of Sense come into play?
ED:
The wellness piece is something that comes from my own passions and hobbies and personal work. I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate this because hair is ultimately a healing experience. Some people come in and want to do something radically different with their hair. You can feel that they are in a shift or that they’re moving away from a certain thing in their life. People evolve with their hair as they do with their life. I started to marry the two and realized there are a lot of connections, and wellness is something I want to see more of in DC.


Can’t Live Without
Coffee
Socks
My boo
Hilarious Internet content
Really close, deep friendships // sisterhood


OT: Why do you find hair to be a healing experience?
ED:
Hair is something you can change right away. You can feel that shift immediately. But I always have clients that come in who are, for example, going through a breakup and want to go blonde, which leads to this very serious conversation of, “Is this a Band-Aid for that? Do you really want to be blonde?” Sometimes we have brides who come in and want to do a totally different thing and I’m like, “Oh, seems like you’re having cold feet. I don’t think you’ll want to be blonde in your wedding photos.” To me, that’s an indication they might be feeling a little freaked out about this other big change happening.

OT: So how do you bring up your healing practices in situations like this?
ED:
We’ve kept them a little bit separate because wellness in DC, I don’t think, is as big as in New York and L.A. where it’s on every street corner and everyone is talking about spirituality and wellness. DC’s a little bit different than that. Most people aren’t as comfortable talking about tarot or saging, so I gradually will bring up or answer questions instead of saying, “You should go to reiki service or you should do breathwork.” I’m not trying to push it in any way. I think it comes up organically and naturally. I have been known to ask questions. A lot of my coworkers have said I’m pretty bold with the things that I ask because I want to get to know people. If someone’s coming in and they have a lot going on, really talking about it is very healing.

OT: What does breathwork entail?
ED:
Breathwork is an active breath pattern where you breathe in through your belly and heart and out through your mouth. By doing this, you over-oxygenate your body and start releasing endorphins. Literally and scientifically, you’re unspooling these fears and tightly bound emotions that are stuck in your body. Releasing and letting go and moving that energy through is almost like a body scrub for your insides.


Work Must-Haves
Our amazing assistant
Trusting, happy clients
Solaris hair-painting powder
My favorite white-painting brush
Oligo blue shampoo and conditioner


OT: What drew you to this practice?
ED:
I was introduced to it through a coach I’d worked with for a long time who started as my hair client. I started working with her and going on retreats with her, and she brought me to the breath. It’s so crazy how just from breathing like that your body starts moving and shifting. There are physical effects, too. You can feel tingly or your temperature can change, or some people feel really hungry. It is a true shift. Right now, I offer private and one-on-one breathwork sessions. But I do see evolving to having group sessions.

OT: You recently started using the upstairs space at Sense as an art gallery. What led to that addition?
ED:
The gallery is sort of this wildcard. The idea came from another client-turned-friend who is a brilliant artist. She helped get the art in the salon squared away. One day, we were talking about what to do with the rest of the space. I had to put something there! It felt like a runaway train. We were like, this is really exciting and becoming bigger and bigger and bigger. We have shows scheduled for the rest of the year that change approximately once a month. It brings a whole new flavor to the space.

OT: What artists have you featured? Have they all been local?
ED:
The next show we’re doing in March is an international, worldwide show curated by a local person. We’re trying to keep things more local. The first show we opened was very DMV-centric. Rose Jaffe [a DC-based muralist whose work is featured in Blagden Alley, among other city locations] was the artist who curated it, and she picked a lot of people in DC who weren’t necessarily getting their work shown in a gallery space and making that more accessible and available. Moving forward, we’ll have more collaborations with Stable [in Eckington], which is another local gallery, to bring some of their artists and [include] shows around photography, too.

OT: What has your biggest challenge been in running such a unique space?
ED:
I still really want to do hair and spend time with my clients. That’s super important to me. If I’m doing that, I can’t be working on anything else. So finding the time and energy to do both was a big learning curve at first. But we’ve grown in a way where we’ve been able to hire more people, and I feel really lucky that everything’s falling into place. I’m feeling less stressed. That’s helping me to grow this other side of the business.


March Events at Sense
3/7: Women’s Circle with Danielle Waldman
3/8: Women’s Day Event: My Body, My Power
3/16: Navigating Touch and Consent 
3/21: Women Uncorked
3/28: Empowerment Circle with Kim Pendleton


OT: Why would you encourage someone unfamiliar with the wellness practices at Sense to give them a try?
ED:
I believe in this so much. I have seen things truly, literally shift and [help people] feel better. I wouldn’t want to push someone in that direction, but I think if someone is curious, that’s a good place to start. Curiosity gets you to the next step of asking more questions and learning what would feel the most comfortable for someone wanting to take the next step. I believe in organically letting things evolve. I think that’s so important with mental and emotional health. Stay curious and let it evolve.

For more on Sense, visit www.sensestudios.co. Follow the studio on Instagram @sense.dc and the gallery @sensegallery.dc.

Sense:
3111 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; 202-290-3113; www.sensestudios.co