In this ongoing series, ArtRat Gallery Social Media Manager Maddy Visscher explores the people, places and things that make our neighborhood great. Email Maddy with feedback and suggestions about the topics you want to see us cover!
Are you looking to make positive changes in the new year? Self-care is always a great resolution. If you’re in the market for styling and pampering, Grand Rapids’ Heartside neighborhood offers a palette of beautifying businesses within a 5-minute walk of ArtRat Gallery (46 Division Ave. South).
Like the neighborhood itself, Heartside’s salons and stylists offer everything from classic elegance to the cutting edge. Since it opened 10 months ago, Lilith’s Lair (25 Division Ave. S) has set the standard for coloring outside the lines. The rainbow-colored basement salon invites you to come as you are and connect with a look that expresses your identity.
Owner Laura Signore described the underground salon as “creepy cute. It’s basically a permanent spot for my Halloween decorations.”
In addition to nine independently contracted stylists, Lilith’s Lair provides shelf space for the products of half a dozen local artists, including adorably weird stickers, prints and handmade lashes. “It’s a total sensory experience,” Laura said.
“It isn’t about reinventing yourself,” Laura told ArtRat. “It’s about being who you have always been meant to be!
"I’ve seen people walk in here with natural blonde hair and leave with a head of rainbows. It may take nine hours, but it’s always a blast.”
The rainbow walls aren’t just for show: Every stylist in the shop is part of the LGBTQ+ community. (But Laura promises they “won’t check your gay cards,” and everyone is welcome.)
The stylists at Lillith’s Lair offer options that range from natural or vivid color, voluminous layers, and short, spicy cuts; to hair and lash extensions; to tinsel and glitter spray. “There’s something for everyone!” Laura exclaimed.
“So many queer people have shared experiences of not feeling comfortable in a normal salon,” they said. “Some stylists go as far as to completely deny a certain kind of haircut. Here, it’s OK to be alternative. This is a judgment-free zone.”
“In 2022, we were so blessed to find stability, and in 2023 we want to do so much. We’re excited to participate in our community more and more. We want to interact with local organizations. We want to have more events, like we did on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, and to keep pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a sex-positive, gender-affirming, safe place for the queer community.”
Whether you need a short, masculine cut; lush natural color; or a rainbow mane, you can head to Lilith’s Lair’s Instagram and Facebook to peruse the salon’s work and find the perfect artist for your needs.
(A color tip from ArtRat: As a special January deal, resident stylist Young Lotus is offering new clients a free haircut with any paid color service. She only has nine spots available, so be sure to book soon!)
Lilith’s Lair is open 11am-7pm Tuesday through Saturday.
Here are some more choice cuts from Heartside’s salon district:
Pure Vanity (3 Oakes St. SW) is your destination for wigs (both synthetic and human hair); tape-in extensions; and beautiful balayage. In English or Spanish, owner Paloma Maldonado offers customers an “ever-evolving” resource for hot new Heartside hair talent — whether you’re looking to bring some life back into your mane, picking out the perfect lace front, or seeking a stylist que tiene los mejores chismes, Pure Vanity has you covered. Appointments 10am-6pm on Wednesday and Thursday, 10am-8pm on Friday, and 12-5pm on Sunday.
Blonde Theory (64 Division Ave. S) is a small, sultry and sophisticated boutique focused on creating a luxurious, individualistic salon experience. Blonde Theory can take you from a brunette bob to 12” platinum blonde. Blonde Theory is available by appointment only, so head over to the salon’s website to book your appointment.
Avenue Barber Shop (123 Division Ave. S) is a “grassroots-as-you-get” homage to the classic barber shops of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Grand Rapids native Chris Lapham opened the shop in 2017, where he cuts hair and trims beards with a staff of three. Ask about bookings for wedding parties! Appointments 11am-7pm Tuesday through Friday (lunch break at 2pm),11am-2pm on Saturday.
Posh Nails and Spa (38 Commerce Avenue SW) After fighting tooth-and-nail through 2022, why not stop in for a mani-pedi? Posh offers both dip powder and acrylic options as well as a variety of aromas for your pedicures. Whether you prefer a Lavender Field Escape or to be Pampered by Pitaya in state-of-the-art massage chairs, Posh promises “everything it takes to restore your energy and revitalize your spirits.” Appointments 9:30am-7:30pm Monday through Friday, Saturday 9:30am-6pm, and Sunday 11am-4pm.
Did we miss any of your favorite salons, nail artists or stylists in the Heartside area? Write us at email@example.com so ArtRat can hype them, too!