Felipe Rettig has been cutting hair at his Mount Pleasant home for over three years. When the 48-year-old stylist isn’t working at Aveda Georgetown, he typically sees clients on his front porch in the summer, moving into his house when it gets cold.
But when the pandemic hit, Rettig had to reevaluate. He knew people would be reluctant to go into salons for quite some time, preferring a more one-on-one experience, but where would his clients sit come winter?
Enter the backyard shed. “I had to get creative,” Rettig says. “I had to provide for my family.”
Along with the help of his friend Danny Maeda of Next Generation Remodeling, Rettig went to Home Depot and Community Forklift to source materials for his 48-square-foot, open-air hair salon. The whole thing took about two months and $4,700 to build, says Rettig. It has large casement windows and French doors that Rettig can crack for open-air circulation, as well as a heater and a green roof for insulation. There’s a marine pump for water with a heater, too, so Rettig can wash clients’ hair and do color treatments. “I have to hand-carry the water—that’s the only chore,” he says.
Rettig’s business, Open-Air Hair Care, has been a success with those looking for a safe way to get their hair cut: He received so many appointment requests after posting the shed on Nextdoor, he says, that he had to take the post down. He says he’s booked for appointments months in advance, with folks coming from all over the DMV to see him.
“The people that come here, they just don’t feel comfortable in a salon environment,” says Rettig. “A lot of them just say thank you for doing this, because people want to maintain themselves during hard times. Everyone wants to feel good, so it’s a little bit of escapism.”
Rettig’s backyard salon is open Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. And he says the shed is a precursor for bigger moves to come: an eventual brick-and-mortar Aveda salon of his own—not in his backyard.