It came to her in a dream.
After moving to Denver from Miami four years ago, Alyson Shea was unsure what her future held.
That’s when serpentine imagery slowly started creeping into Shea’s life: through dreams, artwork and the odd promoted Instagram post.
Unable to ignore these visions, Shea sought out a deeper meaning. In doing so, she discovered that serpents represent a creative life force and the divine feminine. Inspired, she combined these visions with the educational symbolism of sage and realized she could marry her creative aspirations with her expertise as a colorist and a leader.
Over the following year and a half, Shea assembled a team committed to staying on the cutting edge of hair trends. Enter Sage and Serpent: a collective of experienced hair artists dedicated to their craft.
Now the creative director and shop owner for Sage and Serpent, Shea is committed to establishing a safe, inspiring and educational space for her staff and clientele alike. As such, the collective represents a pushback against the oftentimes competitive salon atmosphere. This pushback is essential to the nature of the collective: in this safe space, the hop’s barbers, stylists and colorists have the freedom necessary to hone their creativity and do their best work.
“There are a lot of toxic elements about the salon industry. There’s this competition with each other, even in-house,” Shea shares. “That’s a big pillar here: nobody treats clients like property, and nobody has to fight each other to get a paycheck.”
To help bolster her staff’s expertise, Shea wanted to ensure that education was as much an aspect of the collective’s mission as client satisfaction. Frustrated with the repetitive nature of traditional salon education, Shea envisioned an educational experience that would help the collective’s stylists, barbers and colorists thrive behind the chair.
“I wanted to provide a space where people could grow and not be micromanaged and not feel retraumatized by past bad experiences,” Shea noted.
As the end of October marks two years for the collective, this educational aspect is still growing, from in-house training to mentorship among the team. In the future, Shea envisions collaboration among other small businesses and salons in Denver.
The team at Sage and Serpent is committed to helping clients feel their best as their hair grows. One pillar of their mission is to create tailored, timeless looks that still look fresh as they grow out.
As such, Sage and Serpent cultivate the perfect balance between innovation and convention. With a traditional barbershop in the back and a team of creative specialists manning the salon, this collective provides a space for anyone to feel their best–regardless of age, hair type and gender.
The shop’s team of barbers, stylists and colorists are as unique as the clientele: they rely heavily on collaboration to help their clients look and feel their best.
“I love playing on the strengths of the individual stylist and not making people be a jack of all trades just to pay the bills,” Shea states. “I’d rather do collaborations — color, cut, extensions, whatever — so people really enjoy what they’re doing behind the chair and can give the best result for the client.”
This collaboration is a huge factor in establishing the vibe of the salon: as every member of the team is doing what they truly love, the positive energy in the shop is palpable. With a team of experienced creatives, clients can feel safe knowing they’re in the hands of a specialist.
Above all else, Sage and Serpent is committed to supporting the unique style of every client that walks through the door. This individualism, Shea noted, is an aspect that sets the Denver hair and fashion scene apart from others across the country.
“What I love about Denver is that the hair is so varied. I have never ever — I could honestly say in my entire career — seen so much cool shit happening,” Shea noted. “And it’s all really personalized — the shags, the mullets, the shaved head, the long hair, extensions, color blocking, there’s really no end to it. I’m blown away by the talent.”
Sage and Serpent Hair is located at 2931 W 25th Ave Ste: 102, Denver, CO 80211.