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Palette to Palate: Hairstylist Kim Coté

Kim on nChair in her lounge
Kim takes pride in her space and providing a positive customer experience.

There comes a point in our life where we find ourselves in need of a haircut. Or perhaps something even more drastic. But what happens if you’re new in town? The options can be overwhelming, and finding a stylist that you get along with and trust with your hair is akin to finding a unicorn. That is to say, it can be extremely difficult. It’s almost like dating, where you might have to date a few stylists until you meet “the one” and decide to become exclusive. In this instance, it’s helpful to have a friend act as matchmaker and make recommendations on where she gets her hair done, which is how I ended up meeting Kim Coté at the Lavender Hair Lounge in downtown Amherstburg. 

    I’ve been “seeing” Kim (in the hair sense) for a year and a half now and I love my visits to the salon. While I’ve been to salons in the past that felt sterile and unwelcoming, Lavender is the true opposite. It’s light and bright, comfy and cozy, serene and spacious. When she sat down almost four years ago and envisioned what it would be like, these are the things she thought about. Kim explains “I wanted something that was going to suit the vibe we were going for – which is relaxing and upscale, but chill. Not only is lavender a relaxing and calming scent, but it also happens to be a color! It felt like a good fit.” Who wouldn’t love going into a place where you can relax in a comfy chair while drinking fancy tea or sparkling water, and then come out looking amazingly? This is why Kim and her partner Laura Gauthier have such a successful business. It’s tough to believe that Kim might not have even been a hairstylist. 

Kim Coté and her business partner Laura Gauthier.
Kim Coté and her business partner Laura Gauthier.

    “My family preferred me to go to school for something “more lucrative”, so I took a three year Human Resources program at St. Clair, and when I graduated, we were hitting a recession and jobs were scarce. So I convinced my family to let me try hairstyling – six months later, I was enrolled at Marvel Beauty School and received my diploma one year after that. I had received three job offers before I graduated.” Kim speculates that if she wasn’t doing hair, she’d likely be working in HR somewhere, but she wouldn’t be as fulfilled as she is now. And while it may not seem like it, having that HR background has definitely helped with her own business. After all, doing hair requires you to chat with clients all day long, and in addition to that, Lavender Hair Lounge actually rents out station space to other stylists. Managing all of this and running a business definitely makes use of those people skills. 

    As we laud the trailblazing women of our community for Women’s History Month, this microcosm of female business owners is nothing short of inspiring. Kim puts it best; “We offer booth rental in our salon, meaning our stylists rent chairs from us and are in turn, their own bosses. So to top it all off, we’re surrounded by many amazing female small business owners every single day, and they are powerhouses! They’re amazing moms, wives, friends, sisters, aunts, and small business owners, and we’re fortunate to be able to learn from and grow with them.” It’s important to see women supporting other women, because many times, even today, they are not taken seriously as entrepreneurs, or they are questioned every step of the way if they really know what they are talking about. Yes, still, in March of 2024. Kim offers advice and wisdom for ladies wanting to pursue their dream of starting a business. “You’ll have lots of people tell you that you can’t do it, it’s too much work, that you won’t make enough money, that it’s just a ‘hobby’, that you should focus on your family, or get a ‘real job’. They’re wrong. You CAN do it. Yes it is a lot of work, but the reward is greater. Stay driven and focused and nothing will stop you from achieving what you want.” 

Kim consulting with a happy client
We asked Kim if she consider herself an artist. “Absolutely! My canvas is almost always a collaboration, but every once in a while, if I’m lucky, I get a blank one!”

    Lavender Hair Lounge also puts out positive energy into the world by supporting local charities and girl’s sports. Every holiday season in December they donate to a different organization. One year they raised money for the Alzheimer Society of Windsor-Essex in honor of Kim’s grandfather who passed away from vascular dementia. Last year they gave clothing items to the Windsor Youth Centre, and they’ll donate non-perishable food items to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission. 

    There is also an adorable photo plaque on the wall next to the cash register showing the smiling, happy faces of the championship winning girl’s youth soccer team they sponsored (wearing purple jerseys, of course). With all of these things going on, it probably seems like Kim lives at the salon, but she does have free time here and there, during which you can find her doing whatever her two-year old son wants to do, practicing self-care, eating out with friends, or rocking out at a concert. While she’s at the salon though, it’s all about hair. I asked her some deep questions about the job, because enquiring minds want to know. 

Q: What do you love about doing hair?

A: I love the challenge it brings every day! Hair can be so much more complex than some people realize – no two heads are the same. I also love getting to know people from all different places and all different walks of life.

Q: What is the weirdest thing a customer has ever asked you to do to their hair? 

A: I once coloured a man’s beard like an Italian flag for a soccer championship game.

Q: Do you do your own hair? And if so, how the heck do you manage that?

A: I try very hard to avoid doing my own hair, because it’s not easy. There are a few things I can manage myself, but I prefer to talk someone else into doing it for me, which usually involves having to do their hair too!

Q What’s your favorite or absolute must have tool in the salon?

A: I really like my curling iron, it’s a great curling iron! And music – it makes the long days so much easier.

Q What’s a historical hairstyle that you think we absolutely should bring back? And conversely, what’s a hairstyle that we should never have to see again?

A: Large, deep waves like in the 40’s, and bright, yellow, permed hair from the 80’s. (RTT note: look, everyone was getting permed in the 80’s and 90’s, don’t judge us).

    So whether you’re looking to get a standard cut, or a scalp massage (yes, a new service!), or maybe even a perm or Italian flag beard, a visit to Kim, Laura, or one of their independent stylists is in order. Plus, there are some other exciting things coming up that you don’t want to miss. If you also love and miss Terra Green Gardens which used to be right next door to Lavender, then you’ll be happy to learn that these two forward thinking business ladies are collaborating on a line of hair care products. All I can say is, I’m likely a Lavender Lady for Life.

Palette to Palate: Featuring Hairstylist Kim Coté

Special to the RTT by Tammy Joho

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