Workspaces | Tonya Pottle & Jane Matthews

As part of her series on local workspaces, Megan Coles stops into Karma to get the goods on how the space was created and shaped

“We’re hippy-tested and diva-approved,” says stylist and salon owner Tonya Pottle.

The statement is in reference to Pottle and business partner Jane Matthews’ shared appreciation for maintaining environmental integrity without sacrificing a love of all things glamorous.

The two women went into business together in 2009 when they opened Karma Hair Salon on the corner of Water Street and Prescott Street in St. John’s. They have since maintained what they consider a both hip and eco-friendly salon, by purchasing and selling only products that adhere to their conscientious style.

Examples of their commitment can be found everywhere in their workspace. From locally purchased, in-season flowers to 100 per cent vegan hair products, Pottle and Matthews (mothers, both) want to preserve a healthy environment for their kids.

And it really is a family affair at Karma: a two-family effort as all hands chipped in prior to the grand opening in 2009. The women recount children pulling up carpets and mothers and daughters cleaning side by side well into the night prior to opening.

“We were here with my mom scrubbing the floors and painting, we slept for three hours and then opened the doors. Tonya had a full day and we never looked back,” says Matthews.

The workspace required a careful hand as its small size needed to be utilized as effectively as possible.

Renovations to the workspace, owned by a friend and former employee of Pottle’s, took over six months, with the women embracing the project as if it were their own home.

“We wanted to create a low-key environment that was also progressive. We wanted to create a space we would want to be in,” says Matthews.

The workspace required a careful hand as its small size needed to be utilized as effectively as possible. The two choose to maximize the space by situating the waiting area directly in front of a picture window with an unobstructed view of the harbour. The front desk faces the stylists’ stations, which sport cream-coloured chairs that spoke to the ladies aesthetically, rather than functionally.

Though the chairs stirred a “mad love” initially, the women have since realized that they present an issue, as cream is not ideal in a salon where hair dye is the order of the day. New chairs are forthcoming.

Both women love the location of their workspace and are excited by Water Street east’s continued development. New restaurants, condominiums and office space have revitalized the downtown neighbourhood, where business owners feel at home with one another.

As Pottle says, “That’s one of the great things about working downtown, it’s actually a neighbourhood.”

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