Betting on beauty
For some serious hair to toe pampering, head to this gorgeously restored hub for
up-and-coming hair stylists, beauticians, and health practitioners in Mayfield.
For decades, Mayfield locals had been used to seeing stacks of newspapers in the shopwindows of the eye-catching curved brick façade of 53 Maitland Road. In the late 1930s, the Perry sisters had custom designed the building to house their newsagency on the ground floor, with their own living quarters above. Legend has it, the unconventional ladies kept a bathtub full of coins. Alas, the coins have never been found. After going through several hands, almost 90 years later, the newsagency still existed in 2017.
The first floor had been converted into a boarding house and the building overall needed some serious TLC. With the commencement of building works for Coles in Mayfield still two years away, it was
sitting in a bit of an inner-city wasteland.
Now, the art deco building has become a thriving hub of beauty businesses, a launchpad for young entrepreneurs and their budding micro ventures, thanks to the grit and determination of owners Kristy and Tanille Elley who bought the property in 2016.
“We could see the beauty, the potential of the building and of Mayfield. So we decided to take a bet on both,” they said.
Kristy spent some of her childhood in Mayfield East and in neighbouring Tighes Hill and had noticed the changes in recent years, following the closure of BHP.
“You could see young families moving in and the car badges were starting to change,” she quipped.
“Mayfield is in such a great location, so central to everything. It’s close to the Newcastle CBD and it’s easy to get to the Hunter Valley, but it retains its very own charm, a sense of its industrial past.”
It was a vibe that Kristy and Tanille wanted to preserve, and they named the building Muster Point, a place for people and businesses to come together, not unlike the old BHP muster point nearby.
While researching business ideas for their new venture they came across booth rentals for hairdressers, a concept which was gaining traction in the UK.
Known as ‘rent-a-chair’ in Australia, it’s an opportunity for hair stylists to start their own business within a fully fitted out salon, yet without the upfront cost and entrepreneurial risk that is utterly daunting when working in a job with notoriously low pay.
Breaking new ground
“It was a gamble to open the first 100% rent-a-chair salon in Newcastle when the concept only existed in major metropolitan areas,” said Tanille.
“Plus, we didn’t know anything about hair. But we loved the idea of creating a collaborative, nurturing environment for freelancers to start a micro business.”
First up, they brought in a food truck to activate the outdoor space. In the sunny courtyard, Jules from Perry the Feeder serves up locally roasted, freshly brewed Josie Coffee and some of the best toasties in town. She quickly gained a following of both locals and construction workers from the nearby Coles construction site.
The ground floor hair salon, The Cutting Division, has an edgy, industrial vibe with exposed brick walls, barn doors and black window frames. With custom-designed fixtures and a high quality fit-out, the couple quickly found their first two chair renters. Many others followed.
Young musicians from several heavy metal bands moved into the first floor.
“The boys loved that they could make as much noise as they wanted after 9pm and nobody would ever complain,” Tanille laughed. Yet with the outbreak of the pandemic, everything changed.
Read more about Musterpoint in our Spring Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.
Supported by the Business Improvement Association for Mayfield and City of Newcastle.
Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography courtesy of Muster Point and Frank Schulze.