Upon entering the doors of the “Southern Steele Salon” on Thursday, September 7, the first thing that stood out was the intoxicating aroma of pumpkin spice. Just inside the entrance was a full table of refreshments, haloed by bubblegum pink, shiny black and pearl white balloons.
“We’re excited about this grand opening and ribbon-cutting celebration,” Teresa Hammond said, kicking off the brief presentation. Hammond is the Executive Director of the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. “We’re excited to be here with Tia [Steele, owner of “Southern Steele Salon”] and her staff and we’re excited to celebrate with you this new addition to Highland Avenue and we wish you much success,” Hammond concluded before turning it over to Matt Garten, Alleghany County Board of Supervisors.
“Growth is fantastic… I’ve passed by your little cubby hole there by the railroad tracks and watched you grow and grow and grow, and to get to here, it’s fantastic.” Garten said. “… I applaud your investment and your hard work, and it’s nice to see cars parked in a building that was empty.”
Bryan Thompson, Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation, followed Irvine. “Congratulations, and anything that the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation can do to help continue your growth, I think it’s awesome what you’ve already done and looking forward to seeing what you’re going to do in the future.”
Both Jeff Irvine, Mayor of the Town of Clifton Forge, and Tom Sibold, Mayor of the Town of Covington also gave their best wishes and congratulations to Miss Steele prior to Miss Steele sharing a few words of her own.
“Thank you for coming, everyone” Steele began, “I know on a Thursday in the afternoon, it’s kind of hard rushing around sports and all the things, but I do appreciate it and the support from my friends, family, and a lot of my clients.” After her humble showcase of gratitude toward guests, Tia Steele then introduced her staff made up of: Lexi Ostling, London Critzer, Olivia Simpson, and Deborah Smith. Ostling, Critzer, and Simpson are all hairdressers, with Simpson being the shop’s barber. Smith has a station set up as Southern Steele’s masseuse and will start “hopefully within the next month or so,” according to Steele. “Also, I know they’re not here, but Brandon Wright reached out to me and offered this building to me when he could have posted it for anybody to have it, so I really want to do a big shoutout to him and appreciate him doing that because he didn’t have to.”
Shortly after, the festivities were moved outside where the official ribbon-cutting took place. The Virginian Review was able to catch up with Steele afterwards to ask a few questions about “Southern Steele” salon.
“When I was in school, I always said I’d own my own place,” Steele said of her new salon. She started out in Roanoke before moving to the area and opening shop on Hawthorne and now, on the corner of Highland Avenue.
Steele says she is still looking to hire two more hairstylists for her salon and will absolutely hire fresh, out-of-school hairdressers. “I actually cut deals for them,” she said, “while they’re growing… instead of charging them what somebody would charge everyone, when they’re first staring, I start them out really slow…” Steele said this method is to “keep them from getting discouraged,” and allow them to gradually build their clientele and still make money, rather than breaking even to pay for their chair. Instead, she rents out her chairs for a very low price, adding on to it little by little until it reaches a certain point.
As for store hours, Steels says the staff is usually “in around 10 [a.m.] and leave about 6 or 7 [p.m.].” “Southern Steele Salon” is located at 804 S. Highland Avenue in Covington and, according to their Facebook page, it is easiest to get an appointment by calling one of the hairdressers directly. Those numbers are:
Tia Steele: 540 958-1545
Olivia Simpson (barber): 540 958-2804
London Critzer: 540 958-6065
Lexi Ostling: 540 816-8263