Stylist Spotlight: Ashley Gray, Ash Salon
Our stylist community is our family. Each Stylist Spotlight, we love sharing with you these brothers and sisters who not only support Virtue, but also help share our vision that everyone deserves to have truly healthy hair. They inform and enlighten us, and in turn, we continue to deliver the most revolutionary hair care they could ask for. What we’re trying to say is, we couldn’t do it without them.
Ashley Gray of Ash Salon in Haymarket, VA, didn’t grow up with dreams of becoming a stylist. But after taking a job shampooing at a local salon in high school, she fell in love with the profession. Fast forward past long hours behind the chair and countless hours of travel and education to hone her skills, and still has an unyielding passion for the craft that she brings to her salon daily. Here she discusses the quick and pleasantly surprising success of her salon, their 360-degree approach to clients, and the classic haircut that just never gets old.
Q: What made you decide to open your own salon / become a stylist? It was always a goal of mine to one day open a salon. I had acquired a large, steady clientele for years, but I was waiting for the right time. I went through a divorce and, after a couple years, after I felt settled again, I thought, now’s the time! I wanted to do it on my own and that was very empowering.
Q: What is the most challenging thing about owning your own salon? Wearing all the different hats is challenging. I still take clients 4–6 days a week, but I’m trying to be better about sticking to four days a week so I can turn my energy to other aspects of the salon. I want to focus more on my apprentices and create more time for monthly check-ins with my staff.
Q: What is your best moment about the journey? When did it feel like you caught your “big break”? Opening the salon has been so rewarding. I find so much happiness in seeing my team grow and improve. I feel my big break was seeing how the community responded to our salon. Within months, all my stylists were booked out and we were crazy busy. We outgrew our first location in the first year and moved into our new location last fall. We tripled our space, added a spa wing, and we’re still booked! Our staff has doubled, but I feel like we’ve maintained our tight family feel.
Q: Is there anyone in the industry or beyond, that you really admire, or someone who inspired you in your career? I love the Behind The Chair show. I went for years before I opened the salon, and I always left feeling so inspired, like I could achieve whatever I wanted. Mary, the founder, is so inspiring. I really appreciate her and all she has done for our community.
Q: What is your salon’s unique approach to beauty and style? How do you define a “success” after a client leaves your salon? We try to suit each client’s individual look. We have a broad range of stylists here specializing in all kinds of different styles, so it really all starts at the front desk. They do a great job of listening to the client, hearing what she needs, and then placing them with the stylist they see fit for the job. We want to accommodate the clients’ wishes first, and we can always influence them to try something new or different once they’re comfortable. A success to me is when they leave happy, but you’ve already inspired an idea for the next visit, so they are excited to return!
Q: Who would you say is a true “style icon” in terms of beauty, fashion, life? I have always loved Rihanna because she's not afraid to try anything! She switches up her hair and style all the time. She's a badass. I’ve also always loved Sienna Miller’s effortlessly cool style. Her hair is always on point.
Q: Q: What is your favorite trend/style? A classic bob never gets old, especially if it's cut perfectly. I love blunt haircuts; they are so satisfying.
Q: What was the worst haircut you ever had? When I was in the 5th grade, I got bangs that took over my head. I swear they were like, four inches deep! It was awful, and hell to grow out.
Q: What’s your personal hair routine? I’m so lazy! I maybe wash my hair 1–2 times a week, so I love dry shampoo! I use VirtueⓇ Recovery Shampoo and Conditioner since I’m bleached out. I always use a detangling primer and oil in my hair before I blow-dry, and I’m obsessed with texture spray for volume. I usually rock the messy look, so every day it just gets better and better.
Q: What other things are you passionate about that aren’t hair related? Working out keeps me sane! I love the gym; lifting weights and HIIT workouts are my favorite. I also love to travel! I tend to be a workaholic so that’s when I truly escape and relax.
Q: What’s next for your career? I really want to take more time off from behind the chair to focus on growing my team. I have a handful of amazing apprentices, and I would like to be more involved with education. They are my future; I want to pour everything into them so I can be confident putting them on the floor.