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Chez Snips Hair Salon: The Home-Made Lemonade and Good Karma are Free

Posted by Amie / June 19, 2010

Nadyne - Chez SnipsWalking into Nadyne Kasta's apartment on St-Denis, just north of the Laurier metro, makes you feel as if the world just got a little nicer. Lemonade, a bowl of fresh peaches, the bubble gum smell of the shampoo and the conditioner of mint, eucalyptus and sage take their turns tickling your senses over the course of your appointment.

This was not a normal interview with a local business. I wanted the real insider's perspective...and I desperately needed a haircut.

Chez SnipsIt's pretty easy to find a good haircut in Montreal, but it'll probably cost you a fortune. It's also easy to find a bad haircut...and it may still cost you way too much. Enter Chez Snips - a new home-based hair studio in Mile End. The owner, Nadyne, used to work at Lise Watier on Laurier and the now defunct St-Laurent Trends, but now that she single-handedly owns and operates her own studio, her high quality cuts cost you a whole lot less, since there's no receptionist, staff, or other salon owners to take a cut (completely unintentional pun) of the cost you pay. With women's cuts going for $45, this is a much safer option than going for a junior stylist cut from one of the teaching schools in the city. Trust me, I've tried that with massage and it's not a good idea. Picture 5 students staring at you tensely while you're barely covered in a sheet while the massage therapist working on your shoulders gets drilled by the instructor on what she's not doing correctly. I think the knots in my back grew. Completely counter-productive. My point is, for how good she is, Nadyne's prices are very fair.

Okay, so the money part is out of the way. The real question is will she give you a haircut you like? It's tough going to a hairdresser you don't know. They may not get exactly what you want hair-wise. Nadyne explained to me that people can be very particular about what they want, but a haircut can be a hugely positive experience. When her clients feel beautiful it makes them happier. Life seems a little sunnier, even after stepping out of her cute, retro apartment. When you go to Chez Snips, it's all about you. There's no chaos of a big salon, impatient people waiting their turns, snobbish fashionistas, or judgment. That big mirror with bulbs? There's just one, and you're the focus of it.
The HaircutMy Chez Snips Haircut

I'm pretty laid back about my hair, I think. After a few times going to the same person you can trust them to know kind of what you want, but for a first time I gave a list of criteria and even maybe went a little overkill by providing a photo of a past haircut that I had liked. Basically I said take a few inches off, there should be some layers, no bangs, has to be long enough to go into a ponytail. Other than that, well, mullets are no good. She agreed.

And off she went.
Chez SnipsThe wash: Here's where the bubble gum smell hit. In terms of products Nadyne likes to go as environmentally-friendly as possible. She likes to use Nature's Gate, a product that can be purchased at health stores (she also loves Aveda, but they won't supply small salons like hers). Basically if there's anything she can make greener about her business, she'll give it a go.
Chez SnipsHer website also features all sorts of helpful washing, drying and styling pearls of wisdom that you don't necessarily get at big-box salons, like avoiding conditioning the roots of your fine hair if you want more volume. Speaking of conditioner, mint and a bowl of peaches is a really good combination.

Oh, and while all this washing and smelling is going on, your ears are treated to a playlist of Nadyne's favourite (mostly Canadian) musical talent, like the Darling Damaes and Amy Milan.

Post-wash, there's some hair examination. She tells me that my previous cut gets longer toward the front of my head. I nod as if I remember this from the last time my hair was cut. Do I want to keep the different layers, she asks? Sure. Probably a good idea. She agrees.

Well, this is pretty easy.

Snip, snip. I kind of feel like I should be asking her about what's she's doing to my head, but it's more fun to talk about her salon, her family, why she came to Montreal. After working in TV in Toronto she wanted a different kind of life, and she'd always been good at, and enjoyed, doing hair. She mentions a client who's coming in soon for an updo for a graduation ceremony. She says she doesn't do a lot of those. For her own graduation she did her own hair...but maybe that's just her, she says. Probably a good sign to get out of TV and into hair.

Chez SnipsThe gist of the conversation was that she loves Montreal, her apartment, her business, being close to St-Laurent and Mile End. She's a big fan of the Sparrow, the Mile End hang-out, and even though I'm sure her life isn't all fun, she gets enough time to plunk away at her guitar, though she leaves it in the salon in case a client wants a go at it. Colour and highlights can be really long and boring.

Lots of blow-drying and some dry-cutting later, we've moved on to the final stages of operation "no mullet". She's stretching the hair in front of my head in different directions, wondering how short I'll let her cut it. I give the go-ahead. One hour in her apartment and I trust her. Then a straightening iron for some curl and some anti-pouf (Montreal is a sticky city) and I'm done.

Am I happy? Yes. Will I come back? Yes. By far, my best Montreal hair experience. If only it didn't rain so much here, as it did 5 minutes after I left Nadyne's apartment.
Chez SnipsChez Snips
5460 St-Denis (north of Laurier)



Mandy / June 19, 2010 at 02:11 pm
Beautiful cut! Ever since my last hairdresser - someone I had an emotional attachment to - skipped off to New York, I've been searching for a new hairdresser that I can bond with. This just might be the place!
Alice / July 15, 2010 at 04:07 pm
After reading this blog post I decided to head on over to see Nadyne at Chez Snips. It was a really good experience. Although it was really hot out I enjoyed her lemonade and the laid back atmosphere of her salon. My hair smells wonderful and I am quite pleased with the cut.

You should really go see her!
Alison Carpenter / August 7, 2010 at 01:22 pm
I feel like I have luxurious hair after spending a few hours with Nadyne for colour and cut. It was an all-round lovely experience. She is a fabulous lady as well as a skilled hair artist. And she makes you feel like a fab woman as well!
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