The flair q&A

Kathryn Melo

Tell me about your business or specialty.

I own One On One Salon where we strive to provide our clients with exceptional service and uninterrupted time in the hair chair. I work at the salon as a stylist and manage a team of women whom I feel extremely lucky to know and work beside!

We’re located in the Village of Rhinebeck and we’ve been here for over six years already. I specialize in hair cutting and creating natural looking hair color for my clients with products that protect us all from harmful chemicals. We have a really cool unique view of the village from the second floor, which makes the location feel extra special. I opened with one styling chair in 2014 the place looked too big and beautiful for just one chair…we expanded organically as need and demand grew. In addition to cuts and colors, we travel all over the Hudson Valley providing hair and makeup services to brides and their wedding parties.

How'd you get to where you are now?
I credit each and every person in my career who has given me a chance to work for them or who has worked alongside me. I really appreciate the time I spent working as a stylist for other people and now seeing what it feels like to be an owner and valuing my employees so much, there’s nothing better. Also, I should credit my Mom, my first client, whose hair I unapologetically experimented on many times. She never complained and she always let me try something new. She never questioned me when I told her I was coming home from college with no immediate plans or direction...which was the ultimate turning point for me. My husband too, he helps me with so much at the salon. He wakes up before sunrise to help with anything from cleaning to building furniture, and I couldn’t do it without his love and encouragement!

How has the Covid crisis affected your work or business? Any new ideas or approaches…or lessons learned so far?

Resilience, Innovation, Connection, Lysol...are just a few words that come to mind. We were always a “one on one” style salon (hence the name), though I never expected to need to work within the parameters we were given due to Covid. We were set up perfectly for social distancing from the beginning, but we used to have a waiting area and offer everyone tea or water. Now, I wear two masks and a shield and people wait outside until we’re ready for them. My business was completely shut down for three months. We had to message hundreds of clients and cancel their upcoming appointments in one day…it was terrifying, uncertain, expensive, and messy.

But the truth is, I’ve never been any good at giving up so when Covid hit, I refocused and sold curbside products. I sold shampoo, hair items, gift certificates, essential oils, handbags…anything other than salon services. I offered curbside, delivery or shipping. I remember standing in line at the post office questioning my own safety and weighing the potential health risks that just standing in line presented at the time. Somehow I stood there and mailed an order. I think I learned that I can do anything I put my mind to. When you’re handed a pandemic and a shutdown you don’t give up, you just transform into whatever you need to be and you keep going.

It was the generosity and support that I experienced during the shutdown that still inspires me today. It made me want to give back to my community more than ever before. Kindness has that kind of powerful effect on people - it inspires, it motivates, it transforms.

What surprises you in your work, now or in the past?
I would say it surprises me that there’s always so much more to learn. I’m constantly evolving as a business owner and as a stylist, even when I least expect it. I’ve been working as a stylist for about 15 years and I still love to watch haircutting and new techniques in person or virtually. It’s completely hypnotic and inspiring. I love hearing about other people’s lives, too, when they’re in my chair…people surprise me all the time! My clients are so amazing! I learn so much from them and really appreciate how much they share with us. I really enjoy knowing a good deal about a person and their lifestyle and how they manage their hair from day to day before making any color or cut suggestions. I want to create something that matches their lifestyle and personality.

Also what is surprising to me is when I come across a picture of my work from years ago that I remember being particularly critical of at that time but, upon rediscovering it, I appreciate it. I think it’s easy for anyone, especially in such a creative field, to question their ability or to be overly critical of their work, so it’s good to have those moments of grace for yourself which can help me gain some perspective. I think it’s important to value yourself and your abilities at all different stages in your career, even in the beginning and not be too critical (easier said than done) - and to continue to take chances and challenge yourself.

What drives you crazy?
Oh boy…lol. I think the pressure is out there on all of us to compare ourselves to others and to try to be bigger and better, and to grow our business all the time. That can be exhausting and contribute to a lack of balance - and that drives me crazy. Whatever we want as individuals is okay and we don’t have to continually grow the business in new ways or be just like others in our industry to be successful. I want to encourage women to think about what their personal and professional goals are equally as often as they think about what would fulfill and enrich their lives and then try to align the two. I opened the salon when I was 27. Being a young woman in business with a friendly voice presents its own set of challenges. It was hard at times when I wasn’t shown the respect I know I deserved….and the worst is when people responded differently to my husband if he requested the same thing on my behalf.

Dare I continue? Another thing that drives me crazzzzy is the expression “it’s not personal, it’s just business.” It’s such a bad expression in every way. Every decision in business is made by a person or a group of people. Every decision that is made in any business will affect someone personally. I hope one day people will stop accepting this nonsense. We would all benefit by businesses treating things more personally.

Who inspires you? (it can be anybody you know, or don't know)

So many people! True leaders…people who fight peacefully for justice, equality, safety, animal rights, forests, oceans, climate, everything. This world is all we have and we have to protect it. In the hair world I admire Vidal Sassoon. He was a pioneer in his day. He took cutting techniques to a whole new level and created haircuts that allowed the hair to move freely and look amazing with its natural texture. I’ve admired his methods for years and his team that now carries on his mission today, they really inspire me.

You're a trailblazer - what are some highlights in your career to date?

My favorite part of my career so far is right where I am today. I’m grateful to my clients for helping me to grow this amazing business and for the girls alongside me who have helped me have such a wider outreach than I ever could have managed alone! I’m so grateful that the salon brings my family together, we’re constantly talking about it, coming up with ideas, decorating, cleaning. It’s just one of the ways we act as a team. I know this coming year will bring a lot of change to my business and I’m ready for it and can’t wait to see it evolve again and again.

Words of wisdom or thoughts?

Know your business, learn as much as you can, foster community, build morale, be generous, don’t get too hung up on the numbers all the time, stay busy, be kind, connect with people and help’ll be glad you did.


Kathryn Melo (Kat) is the founder and master stylist of One On One Salon with 15 years of experience. She skillfully works to create shape and remove weight to achieve a balanced style. She works to create a style that will suit your hair type and personality. She founded One On One Salon in 2014 so that your haircut can feel like a personalized experience where you always feel cared for. She began her hair journey at NWSHC (Northern Westchester School of Hairdressing and Cosmetology), pursuing hair as a creative outlet. She has trained at Sassoon Academy in Boston among other training, she has been trained by some of the top stylists in her industry. Inspired by nature, her hairstyling tends to be natural, blended, and refined. She is committed to a lifetime of learning and inspiration. Her mission is to carry eco conscious cruelty free products that are safe and gentle on the hair and scalp. She chose Kevin Murphy because of his mission, ethics and ingredients. Kat will take her time to give you a precise cut and color. In addition to running her business, she is an active trustee on the Starr Library Board and is invested in community fundraising and events highlighting the food pantry and environmental efforts. She is passionate about early childhood education which turned into a homeschooling journey for her and her daughter in 2020-2021 and a passion project: leading an outdoor storytime for a group of local kids. She has four fur babies and a second home on wheels (a vintage Westfalia van) which she and her family hope to see the country in as soon as the world allows!

published 2021