At this Dundas West salon, customers come for the creative haircuts, and stick around for the DJ dance parties.
It’s tempting to dwell on Day and Night‘s multi-platform approach to business—in addition to being a salon, it’s also a retailer selling everything from earbuds to art books, and an events space playing host to bands and DJs. But its first-and-foremost concern is your hair: stylists Chanel Croker, Nikki Pereira, and Ben Raine are seriously devoted to their craft.
“The more that I entertain my interests outside of hair and fashion, the better a hairdresser I am,” explains Croker, Day and Night’s owner. “I don’t see any difference between wanting to host a live music event in the space and then open up and cut hair the next day—those things fuel each other. It’s all an extension of the brand and the culture. It is very fluid and intuitive when it works but, at the same time, people can be very confused by it—they think you’re an events space or a new venue in the city, which it’s not at all. It’s a hair salon and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel in that respect.”
Having worked in a salon since she was 15, Croker is, however, looking to add her own unique style to the mix. “In the last few years, women didn’t cut their hair,” she says. “It was like spindly, long, mermaid hair, unraveled and unkempt; the cooler you were, the messier it was. If you were a little bit posh then you were going to get the blow-out. All these blow-out salons started opening up in the city because everyone had long hair—no one cut their hair anymore. Now, people want to cut their hair again but they want it to still look cool and casual, not overdesigned.”
Croker is currently most excited by an androgynous approach. “Men are still wearing high fades and really clean haircuts, but growing it in a little more and then women are going shorter. A lot of men and women have been doing really androgynous haircuts—close at the sides, really tall and floppy, and swept off the face.”
That’s not to say Croker is only interested in prevailing trends. “I love classic haircutting—it’s not like I want to be experimental or really current with every client,” she says. “At the same time, you want to have room for that and I want to have room for people in the city who are 20 and will just let me do whatever I want to their hair. I want them to be able to afford to come here.”
Reasonable rates (cuts range from $40 to $65) helps Day and Night attract a clientele willing to experiment. “We wanted to really speak to the youth and a creative energy and keep our prices moderate,” Croker says. “I don’t want to be a high-end place; it really changes the demographic of your clientele and it’s very limiting. I think it’s a very narrow spectrum and we have a lot of range here.”
Especially important to Croker is that Day and Night’s design accurately reflects her aesthetic sensibilities, but is also adaptable as an events space. “I really want the space to be very much a blank slate and modular and be easy to pack up and move around, to play around,” she says. “I just wanted it to feel different than a lot of other places in Toronto feel: a modern, simple, and electronic feeling as opposed to earthy. But there’s still a natural, clean and relaxing element—not high-tech.”
Many of Croker’s clients date back to her previous chair at John Steinberg on King West—for some, the new Dundas West neighbourhood might be a little off the beaten path. “My clientele has really embraced the change,” she says. “They’re interested to have me bring them into a new neighbourhood—it’s been new for people and they’ve been embracing it and loving it.”
And Croker couldn’t be happier with her new space. “I was waiting until I found the right place and I was in no rush. I was in a good situation and was very happy working where I was,” she says. “Within a month of looking, this place fell into my lap and I knew it was right—I looked at a few other places, but I knew this is where I wanted to start something.”