PHOTOGRAPHY Sabella Kahn
I don’t want to say that blondes have more fun, but when I’m blonde I do feel like the best damn version of myself. I’ve been dying my hair platinum for around two years now, but the color was always quick to fade into a brassy yellow. There had to be some sort of solution that would keep me satisfied with both my color and maintenance routine. Enter The Bird House, a hair salon delivering dreamy cuts and colors out of Gowanus.
Located on quiet, industrial 10th Street held the answer my hair had been yearning for. Affectionately referred to as a “speakeasy salon”, The Bird House is so discreet that I walked past it multiple times before finding a sticker on an unassuming steel door with the salon’s name on it. Upon entering the salon, I was instantly welcomed by Nicci Hubert and Brooke Jordan Hunt, sisters and co-owners of Bird House. Even on a snowy New York winter day, the space felt bright and airy, only enhanced by Nicci and Brooke’s infectious energy.
“What are we going for?” Brooke asked. I struggled to explain that I’d like to be blonde but, just like every 20-something, needed a style that requires little maintenance. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure if that was even possible. Somehow, Brooke was able to synthesize my disarray of thoughts and settled on a color she described as “champagne blush.” I liked the sound of that.
Brooke meticulously applied layers of bleach to my very thick head of hair, explaining to me that “blonding is a process.” Suddenly my years of bleach-fueled trials and tribulations made sense to me. I had always thought achieving perfect color could be done in a one shot. My stylists would try to take my strands too light, too fast, causing damage and leading to that unsightly yellow/orange tint happening almost immediately after I left the salon. As Brooke put it, “good hair is a marathon, not a sprint,” and I was willing to wait if it meant I’d finally get my desired results. We would need at least two sessions to get my hair exactly where I needed it to be.
Brooke has been running a bit of a marathon herself. She opened The Bird House in 2011 in a one-chair studio in Carroll Garden. By transforming sad mops of hair like mine into perfectly coiffed ‘dos, she quickly garnered a loyal fanbase. After a hiatus from Brooklyn, Brooke returned in February of 2015. By September that same year, she needed to move into a full-fledged salon. So Brooke, along with Nicci, took over the industrial space in Gowanus that The Bird House now calls home. Now in 2018, The Bird House is on the verge of expansion yet again.
Through a combination of balayage and babylights, Brooke brought my hair back to life from a pale yellow into a luminous pinky-golden hue. Without reaching my final destination, I was already feeling revived. I parted ways that day feeling like myself, but better. The way good hair should make you feel.
Already feeling more confident about my hair, I returned a month later, excited to know it could only go up from there. I caught up with Brooke as I would an old friend, and the bleaching commenced again. Just a few hours later, I was blonde—and I liked it.
Confidence can be affected by the way my hair looks on any given day; rather than trivialize the fact that hair can be an emotional experience, The Bird House embraces it. “Our goal is to feel the emotion of the hair with every client,” Nicci told me. One thing I desire when having a stranger go at my head with sharp tools and chemicals, is complete comfort and assurance that I’m in good hands. The Bird House provided me with just that.