When Wendy and Richard Lukstat were eating lunch at Uncle Elder’s BBQ in downtown Culpeper and saw the old Hope Community Church building for rent, they knew it was time to take the leap.
Hair and There Salon and Décor at 121 E. Culpeper St. is a unique business filled with fun, family and flare. Owner, stylist and stager Wendy had been dreaming of implementing this idea for 15 years.
“We decided when we saw this,” she said, that “this place was perfect for this kind of concept I wanted to do, which obviously was part salon and part staging.”
“We found this perfect space, the perfect town, in the historic district, that we could be in, so there is less footprint,” said Richard Lukstat, owner, carpenter and marketing wiz. “And so, we were like, ‘Let’s go for it!’ ”
The atmosphere of the Louisa County couple’s salon and design shop is open and welcoming, with high ceilings and space defining curtains.
The salon offers a full range of services for women and men, from basic haircuts to perms to facial waxing to coloring in a private coloring room. Additionally, for all the men out there, they are now offering shaves.
“I want it to be a very nice, pleasant experience for people,” Wendy said, one where people are not confined to a chair but can get up, move around and shop.
“People are here for two or three hours, sometimes,” Richard said.
“You said,” Richard added, referring to Wendy, “your whole point was making the salon experience something different. So, you weren’t just sitting in a chair among chairs, processing in a chair.”
There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but the couple’s idea was to give a salon experience a fresh take.
“So, she said, ‘I want a private color room where people can sit with Wifi and be able to shop while processing—walk around and shop,’ ” Richard said.
Customers rarely pick up the salon’s available magazines because the staged rooms are so much fun to look at and walk around in, they said.
Each of the staged rooms reflect a different style. In the Farmhouse Finds room, Wendy doesn’t refurbish any of the items she’s found. She leaves them as they are, so folks who like to refurbish and repurpose can do it themselves without having to dive into old barns or dubious sheds. Richard calls it the “rusty, dusty, stuff.”
Wendy ensures the shop’s décor is accessible and reasonable as she knows how people’s tastes change over time. “So, you either walk away with the room,” she said, “or walk away with a piece of the room or walk away with something sitting on a table.”
An eye for detail, interior decoration and design is an integral part of Wendy, just as is her keen sense of style. Before Hair and There, Wendy was rearranging and curating her own home and the homes of family and friends.
She’s staged homes before they hit the market, consulted friends on how to achieve their desired home atmosphere, facilitated furniture sales and designed entire office spaces. And she did it all free of charge.
After she had created her nephew’s new office space from scratch—complete with sketches, furniture and design—the response from his co-workers and friends was so positive that her nephew told her, “You need to stop doing it for people like this and you need to do it, do it.”
Wendy now offers on-site consultation, evaluation and staging.
Richard worked in Washington, D.C., for years in public relations and advertising. Now, he works in real estate, and is a skilled carpenter. Equipped with her hair licenses, years of experience as a makeup artist and her stellar staging skills, Wendy, along with Richard’s expertise, cut the ribbon at Hair and There on March 25.
Neither Wendy or Richard had owned a business before. They said the town of Culpeper has been overwhelmingly supportive of their enterprise, and is crucial to their success.
The folks from The Chamber of Commerce and Culpeper Renaissance Inc. have been wonderful in the information, encouragement and the step-by-step assistance they provided, both said.
Other small businesses downtown, such as Pepperberries, gathered around them in true community spirit, lending support and ideas to encourage their enterprise’s growth and sustainability, they said.
“Culpeper is a really supportive town,” Wendy said.
The Lukstats said they want to contribute and preserve the community of which they are now part.
Hair and There’s building dates to the 1950s. Their awning honors that by its historical accuracy. Prior to their business, the building housed Hope Community Church, and is still distinguished by the large “HOPE” sign on its roof.
“We didn’t want to change the sign,” Wendy said.
Several locals had told her how it uplifted them whenever they saw it, so this they wanted to preserve. They had to use the sign, however, within two years or lose the ability to keep it.
Richard explained that, “by incorporating it into our brand, we’re using the sign.”
It’s an inspirational message and one that reminds Richard of who they are as individuals and as a business. They don’t knock down walls or tear down signs.
“The difference with us,” Richard said, “is that we work with the existing footprints.”
And they work with family. Their daughter, Kristin Harrington, is the salon director and a stylist. Sailor Rose, an old soul, future stylist and grandma’s assistant, plays and assists whenever she can.
“It’s a thrill for me,” Richard said. “My wife and daughter are working together. We’re trying to build something and leave a legacy.”
Hair and There desires to be a legacy and brand that people connect with differently.
“We don’t want it to be transactional,” Richard said. “We want to be environmental and experimental.”
Right now, Hair and There is running an Easter special through April 24; if you like them on Facebook and Instagram, you get 20 percent off a fifty-dollar purchase—single or combined.
And remember, look for the “HOPE” sign on top.