The Barn which used to house Victoriana in Station Road, Petersfield has been sympathetically restored and revamped to create a light, bright salon, WeLove.
But this isn’t really a hair or beauty salon; it’s something new and rather unique.
Actually, it’s more like the front room of some lovely barn conversion; whitewashed brick walls, a large corner sofa, a huge painting of a meadow on the wall, reflected in the mirror opposite, and a woodturner in the fireplace.
What WeLove aims to offer is a day spa – hair stylists, make up artists, therapists and nail technicians all under one roof, with a relaxed but luxurious home from home feel.
My day spa experience begins with a cup of herbal tea and a chat on the huge sofa. Creative director Rae asks me what changes I’d like to my hair and whether I have any questions. “Good lord, just make me look like a grown up!” I think. Rae explains the treatments and who will be working the miracle of my new look.
Firstly, local make up artist and beauty consultant Nicky Rattray completes my colour analysis, laying swatches of fabric over me to see which tones and colours suit my skin tone best. I’m a Summer, it turns out – cool, muted tones. I do tend to choose grey greens and blues, silver rather than gold, and I never wear coral or orange, although it has taken me 20 years to work out what suits me. “It’s easy to wear whatever is in fashion, but all that happens is people focus on the clothes rather than you,” she explains. “The best choice is flattering to the skin and something which brings out your eye colour and makes people see you rather than what you’re wearing.”
Once my skin tone is established, I am handed over to Sarah Spiers, art team director and head master colour technician, to work out which hair colour would suit me most. She advises that I needed to get away from the brassier tones of blonde and go for cooler tones with natural shading and highlights. She gets to work with foils and colours as I chat to Rae about the whole concept of WeLove. Each of the staff are self-employed, so they have the flexibility to fit work around children and other commitments, but they have a share in the business which means they care about it working well. Weddings will be a mainstay obviously, but Rae also offers pre-wedding days where the bride to be and attendants can get a preview of the hair and makeup they’ll be getting on the day, all with a few glasses of bubbly, obviously…
Rae herself is an award-winning hair stylist who trained in London with the top creatives of the day, eventually setting up her own very successful salon in Southsea. But she wanted something more; something different.
She fell in love with the Barn as soon as she saw it, and knew it would be perfect for what she wanted. It’s central, within walking distance of the train station and town centre, it has parking and is in an iconic building. “When we first started work on it, I had quite a few people who came in just to see what we were doing. They really care about this building; they were worried I’d spoil it. But I think we’ve done it justice. I wanted to keep as many of the original features as possible – I love it. It’s beautiful.”
She now lives nearby and her daughter is at Bedales. “I love Petersfield,” she said. “It has a really good sense of community and it is a very creative place.”
The upper storey is still a work in progress but ultimately the vision is to have more treatment stations, a healthy juice bar, and room for yoga or Pilates. Dr Rupert Critchley has been invited to run a medi-spa here, too. She’s open-minded, she says, and is happy to hear from anyone who is interested in offering their skills.
While I wait for the colour on my hair to take, Nicky gives me a manicure, using a range of products called nailtiques. My nails being quite weak, I need Formula 2, which gets painted onto my nails in a thin, strengthening coat. I have a bottle to take home, so I can continue the strengthening treatment. A hand conditioner contain collagen, pure aloe and jojoba oil is massaged into my skin and there’s an oil therapy for my cuticles, a nail conditioner and cuticle gel applied. Nicky tells me she came to Rae when she noticed WeLove signs going up and offered her services. “It’s so lovely working here,” she said. “I love what I do and the people I’m working with here are like-minded.”
Hands done, she sends me back to Sarah to wash my hair colour out, then I’m brought into the therapy room for a relaxing hair treatment and scalp massage. WeLove uses Eksperience hair products from Brittany which contain sea minerals and hair-enriching algae. I drift off to soothing music as Sarah massages.
I’m feeling like a pampered mermaid when I emerge, ready for the next phase of my transformation.
Then Rae appears with a bag containing lunch – Madeleine’s Kitchen in Lavant Street has provided a delicious sweet potato frittata, chickpea, tomato and harissa salad and a whopping slice of French almond cake which I feel it only fair to share with my therapy queens.
Birute Thomas is next in line, to do my make up. The Lithuanian-born style expert has just returned from a photoshoot in Richmond. She likes to keep busy; when she’s not beautifying or photographing she can’t stop herself from tidying and cleaning. There is definitely an atmosphere of calm capability at WeLove; people just getting on with whatever needs to be done. Like, well, mums.
None of the women here are heavily made up; all look natural and youthful.
Using make up by British company Delilah, Birute applies a light foundation. I have a few single false eyelashes applied, tones of grey eyeshadow, and blusher and lipstick with blue rather than orange tones.
Then Rae takes over for my hair cut. She leaves a much of the length as possible but gives me some shorter layers at the front; nothing too drastic but enough to give it some more volume and movement. It’ll be easy to style, she says, as I’m a busy person and like to spend a minimum amount of time getting ready in the morning. She dries and shapes it, moving my parting to the other as it suits me more, she says.
I wait until the very last moment to put my glasses on – for the final reveal. I look like a grown up! I feel fantastic.
Not once throughout the whole process did I feel I was just being processed. Everyone was very friendly, interested in me as a person, good-humoured and professional. And I love my new look!
72 Station Road, Petersfield
Open Mon-Fri 8am-10pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm