“Every morning when I walk in here, I can’t believe this is my shop,” said proprietor Mindy Yagin, of Hair Kouture beauty salon and barber shop. As owner-operator alongside beautician Serena Ho’opai, she obviously takes a lot of pride in the establishment, resourcefully created from antiques, recycled furniture, repurposed pallets and shipping containers, family teamwork, tons of heart and ingenuity.
“I’m into art, and I wanted a ‘modern pop’ look for the shop,” said Yagin. “I also wanted something vintage and traditional, and this is between the two.” Contrasting elements—sleek black chairs and modern fixtures against homey wood floors and retro textures and prints—work well together for a relaxed, comfortable environment at Hair Kouture, where many of the décor items were donated by Yagin’s grandparents.
“My grandfather collected antiques all of his life,” said Yagin. A frequent customer, gardener and enthusiastic promoter, grandfather Bob McGillivray has a story for everything in the shop including the 1957 “cold beer” sign from Walnut Creek, Calif., and an old milk can from the family farm in Olney, Ill., that he said is half-filled with old letters from girls to their son.
“She loves what she does,” said grandmother Lettie McGillivray as she gets styled. “She’s very creative and does a really good job. She’s amazing.”
Born in California, Yagin said she always wanted to be a beautician and first started cutting hair at age 13. In high school, the ohana moved to Waimea, where five generations still live on the family property, and Yagin graduated from Parker School, class of 2000. She attended college on Oahu, and had planned to join her parents’ business, Ban-Nix Medical, when an opportunity opened up at Graciella’s Salon and she eagerly picked up her scissors.
When the chance to have her own shop materialized, she took the next step, including the search for another beautician. Yagin said she had worked with Ho’opai before, and Ho’opai had actually cut her hair twice. The two have been bringing out the beautiful in Big Island men, women and children ever since.
“She was the first person I thought of,” said Yagin.
Young customer Jack Henry Bremseth, 22 months, seemed to enjoy his haircut, according to his mom “He didn’t cry. He just let her do her thing,” said Xenia Bremseth.
Raynard Torres said he likes to come in for a trim about every three weeks when his starts getting thick. “I get a headache and I don’t want to wake up with poofy hair,” he said with a smile.
As a special treat for Grandpa, Yagin and Ho’opai offer McGillivray an old-fashioned barber shop shave that starts with warm towels to relax the beard, brush-on shaving lather, and a clean and close straight razor shave, followed by cool towels and brisk aftershave. For women, in addition to haircuts and styling, the ladies provide hair coloring, highlights, waxing, eyelash extensions and more. They are also available for weddings and other group events.
“We’re pretty much always up for a challenge,” said Yagin.
Yagin said business has been very good since Hair Kouture opened in December, and they are grateful for the support of family, friends and colleagues.
“The owners of the building really wanted us to be here and helped out in so many ways,” said Yagin. At the end of the day, with so much support, a positive attitude, mad skills and a great retro-style environment, it’s easy to see how customers, and staff too, continue to “walk out looking fine.”
Hair Kouture is located in Waimea’s Ironwood Center, 64-5193 Kinohou Street, open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday by appointment. Prices start at $18 for children, $20 for men’s haircuts, $45 for a straight razor shave, $45 for women’s shampoo, cut and style. For more information visit www.hairkouturebeautysalon.com, or call 808-443-3453.