• Wearable Hair
  • Wearable Hair
  • Wearable Hair

PLACES: The alt-salon approach is alive and snipping in north London at Bebop, thanks to owners Chloé Hervé and Pont Smith. Expect a gender-neutral price list, mental self-care for staff, vibing interiors, and aftercare styling

Photography: Panos Damaskinidis
Interview: Katharina Lina
Film: Aris Akritidis
Special Thanks: Chloé Hervé, Pont Smith and everyone at Bebop Salon

Bebop is at 9-10, Access via, 8 Hornsey St, Eden Grove, London N7 8EG


“Yeah we can polish it off and do a big bouncy blow-dry, that’s absolutely fine and looks stunning, but most people aren’t going to be able to recreate that the next day so they only get one day out of it. But if we teach them how to do their hair, then their hair can look good until they need their next haircut.”

Chloé Hervé

Just around the corner from Holloway Road station on a quiet side street stands Bebop, a friendly hub with a hot deal on good vibes and wearable hair. The large, airy space is filled with pops of colour and gentle house music, the kind you might play on a relaxed Sunday. Last time it was a nostalgic playlist of late ‘90s to early ’00s alternative rock. Very different vibes, but both feel authentic to the space. While settling in either Jordan or Lorraine will hand you a cute little menu of complimentary drinks. I like it here.

Five years ago Chloé Hervé and Pont Smith opened their co-owned hair salon Bebop, merely a stone’s throw from their current location, with the intention to build a salon environment that consciously works to provide wellbeing to clients and staff alike. But hair was only the beginning; as the salon evolves into a lifestyle brand, a nail bar moved in followed by a tooth gem corner characterised by the evocative dental chair. 

Hairdressers spend notoriously long hours on their feet, doing work that require high concentration at all times. A casual chitchat in an office might result in wasted email time, whereas the salon dramatically heightens the stakes at the risk of permanently ruining someone’s hair. Though physically and mentally taxing, the job appears to be a perfect fit for Hervé and Smith who both emphasise the immediate payoff, the pride of seeing a pleased reaction. “The way my brain is hardwired, it’s almost searching for those dopamine bits, the enjoyment of seeing the satisfaction on people’s faces straight away and getting that all day, every day.” Smith explains. 

Although the beauty industries sometimes have a reputation of superficiality, Hervé observes how beyond beautification, there is a power in making clients feel seen and heard. “I don’t think it’s just about the hair. It’s how we’ve made them feel as well. Someone’s asking questions about you for the whole hour and you don’t always get someone just asking about you. We all enjoy having our own identity and I think stylists understanding that about you and getting your style right… the confidence that that can bring!”

How did you first get into hair?

Chloé: Growing up I was always leaning towards doing something creative. I’m dyslexic so I knew I wasn’t going to be an academic. I was introduced to hairdressing quite young, some family members are hairdressers. I started when I was 15 and literally haven’t looked back and just carried on that journey.

Pont: I got into hair almost as a joke because I’ve always been quite creative but the school I went to really just focused on pushing you academically. I remember it was careers day, there were people coming in and everyone was saying all this stuff about going to uni. And me being a little bit of a rebel I just wanted to say something that was the complete opposite to what they were saying, so I said hairdressing. I kind of said it as a joke but the career’s advisor was like ‘Oh you don’t really want to be doing that. You’re not going to earn much’, things like that, just really slating it, and I was like ‘actually I AM going to be doing that’ so luckily I went down a good career path with it. For me it works really well because it’s creative short bursts and I get to meet lots of people. I’m happy I made that joke. 

Hairdressers are known to have these special connections with their clients. Clients often feel comfortable talking to their hairdressers about all kinds of personal things. What kind of person do you need to be?

Pont: The client hairdresser relationship is very special and important. A salon can be quite an intimidating place. You come in, it can be quite loud, there’s lots of things going on, there are a lot of cool looking people. As a client you can get quite intimidated by that. One of the things we teach here is trying to get that connection. You can connect with everyone, we believe in that. 

Chloé: It’s trying to find that common ground and making them comfortable so that they know what they want to ask for. They’re often so used to ‘just the trim’ because they don’t know what to say and that comes down to the environment you’re setting. I think you also build an unusual relationship with clients compared to a lot of other jobs because we’ll be doing their hair for years and we could be spending three, four hours each time, and you tend to see them at really important times of their life. Every time before a job interview, before they’re getting married, before something big in their life. So you do tend to build that loyalty.

Pont: But don’t get me wrong, I think it does take a lot out of you because sometimes you are kind of performing. The salon is essentially a stage. If you’ve got bad things happening in your personal life, you can’t bring that to the client because that’s going to affect the process. 

Chloé: It’s interesting what you said about the stage, because that’s what we say to our staff as well; they’re going to go through tough times themselves and then to suddenly have to put on a happy face for a client can be hard.

I guess it’s the kind of relationship where you can bounce off each other’s energy, but equally I can imagine if clients come in with a bad mood it can also affect you?

Chloé: Yeah, it can change so much just during the day. You can have someone who is a really difficult client who completely drains us and then the next client who walks through the door is the complete opposite and you instantly forget about whatever you were doing two hours ago, which is nice because it doesn’t stay with you for too long.

Pont: I think that’s a special skill that hairdressers learn, trying to gauge all those social cues, and the subtleties of everything. Like Chloe said, it can be someone who’s had a tough day and they just want to be silent and relax. And it’s trying to gauge all that and working the service to that. 

Chloé: Knowing when to not talk is probably a bigger thing than teaching staff how to talk to clients. 

How did you meet and how did you get together to start this business?

Chloé: I moved to London and started working for a brand that Pont was working at. He was actually educating at the time so he was teaching me. We just clicked, got on really well. We realised that we were both at the same stage and feeling at that point in your career where you’re just getting a little frustrated because you have so many ideas and you can’t really do them. So we both felt ready to start actually seeing those come to life.

Pont: I was in my position for a long time, I was doing a lot of education for different brands and companies. But you get to a point where you’re starting to get frustrated and you kind of see things in different ways.

Chloé: Well, it gets to a point where you’re either going to just talk about the things that annoy you and the things you want to change, or you do something about it.

Pont: Yeah and I didn’t just want to be moaning all the time, so I was trying to look out for essentially a business partner and then luckily Chloe came along and we instantly gelled. I think I put together a little bit of a test —

Chloé: He tested me.

Pont: —to see if she was alright. We put together a photo shoot to gauge how stressed she gets and how she reacts. And yeah it went all good, we produced some really good looks, she had a lot of great creativity and we gelled really well.

“We noticed there was a lot of ego hairdressing, where it was just the hairdressers doing what they wanted to do and kind of forgetting about the person that’s underneath.”

Pont Smith

What were some specific frustrations that led you to decide to do your own thing?

Chloé: I think there were so many different parts. It’s different from hair to business, staff, everything really. Hair-wise me and Pont both really enjoy working with more curly and natural hair, and a lot of the salons we worked at weren’t necessarily doing that. So that’s something that we knew we could create ourselves.

Pont: A lot of it was breaking down stuff we didn’t like. At that time, there was no gender neutral pricing which was very weird for us because we both did a lot of short haircuts on both genders and men were paying much less. There was stuff that didn’t make sense. Also hairdressers being more inclusive of different hair textures wasn’t really a thing. I think a lot of salons did just one thing and we wanted to be inclusive of everything.

Chloé: And experiment. We like working a lot with razor cutting and that was something that wasn’t really around for us over the last ten years. And we all work differently. So even when Pont and I came together we still maintained our different styles of cutting and colouring. That doesn’t mean that either is right or wrong. We wanted stylists to be able to still have their own touch even though there’s a certain standard that we put in place.

Pont: We noticed there was a lot of ego hairdressing where it was just the hairdressers doing what they wanted to do and kind of forgetting about the person that’s underneath. 

Chloé: We were saying ‘bringing it back’.

Pont: Yeah bringing it back to the client. This is what we tried to evolve here.

Tell us about Bebop’s ethos. What sets you apart?

Chloé: Wearable hair. That’s one of our big ones. Hair that moves. Hair that works with people’s lifestyles. Thinking of how you style it everyday, like wash and leaving, working with a natural texture, working with how often you come and get your hair done.

Pont: Yeah I think it’s just tailoring it for each client because there is no set way for each person. There’s nothing wrong with people extending their haircut period, we’ve just got to account for those months in-between. It’s the same with the advice given. It’s okay not to use any products, but if, let’s say, you’ve got a good shampoo and conditioner, that’s gonna help you. It’s trying to manage everyone’s expectations, because everyone likes their hair to feel different. And there’s nothing wrong with having it super polished all the time, you’ve just got to account for that. It’s really bringing it back and tailoring it to the person so that it’s wearable for them. 

Chloé: And we teach the clients to do their own hair. I think that massively works for us because it’s not about them leaving with a perfect style that one day — yeah we can polish it off and do a big bouncy blow-dry, that’s absolutely fine and looks stunning, but then most people aren’t gonna be able to recreate that the next day so they only get one day out of it. But if we teach them how to do their hair then their hair can look good until they need their next haircut. Even just explaining to someone how to put a product in their hair properly.

Who is the Bebop clientele?

Pont: A Bebop client – it’s hard to define that because we want it to be as open and inclusive as possible but to be honest, a lot of our clients are similar to our stylists. They’re into fashion, they like to have a bit of fun, it’s a whole range of different things, it’s hard to pin.

Chloé: I quite like that though. That we can’t pinpoint a certain client because it should be that everyone can come. A part of the way that we wanted the salon to be is that it feels inviting to everyone, whether you’re young, old, it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t be intimidating and salons can be intimidating. 

Pont: For us it’s making sure that the environment we create here is something that we enjoy as well and clients can feel that. 

Did you have any key moments before starting your own business where you felt ‘this isn’t good for my wellbeing’?

Pont: What I’ve noticed about the industry, with hairdressers in general is we do take on an emotional and mental impact dealing with clients because sometimes we’re almost performing in a way. And that can lead to quite toxic traits like drinks and drugs, and we’ve been in salons where that kind of environment really starts to affect the whole atmosphere and everyone involved. For us trying to focus on the hairdressers’ mental wellbeing is super important because if you’re not mentally doing a lot of self-care yourself, how can you transfer that onto your clients? It’s easy for hairdressers to fall into a rhythm of partying on the weekend, going mad, to kind of release that emotional and mental impact. But then that can have lots of different effects in other parts of their lives. I don’t think a lot of people are talking about it really. 

Chloé: A lot of salons that we were in it had been like that for years. That kind of back-to-back, client after client, not a minute to yourself. Long hours, everyone’s tired. And there’s only so long everyone would do that for. I suppose we were probably at that point when deciding to open Bebop because you realise that work life balance doesn’t exist. And it’s fine when hairdressers enjoy what they do, but it is still work. That was really important to us, how we treat staff in a way that gives them more balance. We give them gaps between clients, so they feel they’ve got a bit more one-on-one with each client, and make sure they’ve got enough free time at home and encourage them to have hobbies outside of work. Hair doesn’t have to be everything. I think it’s important to enjoy it and the only way to enjoy it is to be able to step away from it as well.

Pont: You’ve got to look after your staff in all aspects. One of the things we do is we give them credit each month for this app called Urban. It’s a massage app, so they come around to your house and they massage you. That’s really important for a hairdresser, we do put our bodies through a lot of stuff so you’ve got to be physically well to do it, as well as being mentally well.

Do you sort of organise wellbeing sessions with your staff? 

Chloé: We try to do regular get togethers anyways but we’ve got Mikey and D’arcy who work a lot on the mental health side. Mikey’s just started doing his Friday breakfasts, just as a chance for staff to get together and to talk openly without us there. 

Pont: Yeah without management there.

Chloé: So they can feel like they can speak freely. I think we have an environment where people speak quite freely anyway but I think it’s still important for us to step out of that every now and again and give them a chance to be with each other. We try and do outings. Bowling seems to be our new one.

Pont: For some reason everyone here loves bowling and karaoke. We love it. Rowans is the best. 

Your new salon atmosphere is so welcoming, open and colourful. Can you talk a bit about the overall design approach?

Chloé: We have only been in this space since May 2022. We had the small space first, and we didn’t really want to have two because we thought once we start splitting up the team, everything is going to change so we just wanted to create one big space that we all grow into and all keep helping each other, the same faces, everyone recognises each other. Atmosphere wise it is very much to do with music which is where ‘Bebop’ came from in the first place. Music makes a big difference to the atmosphere. We change it depending on who is in and what kind of vibe they bring. Regarding the design, we based it a lot around —I want to say I went with a ‘70s interior vibe without making it look ‘70s. A lot of cork, open wood and wood panels. We like a lot of texture and colour because as hairdressers we are creatives, and we need to be inspired. The more things around me that are inspiring, the easier it’s going to make my job. We also designed the space very much to be able to be used for different reasons. The tables, mirrors and everything can be moved out of the way so it can be reorganised into an event space.

Do you have any highlights or favourite memorable client moments?

Chloé: I definitely had a few of those after lockdown with people making me realise what hair does for them. Even we lost that over lockdown and kind of went on ‘what’s the point’. And then that moment when you see how hair could change someone’s year again and just make them feel good. There were happy tears, people that really didn’t even realise that they needed that. Those are the moments I remember.

Pont: You are a part of these people’s lives. After these 2 years when hairdressing was back again, everyone was like ‘Oh, my God, I can get my hair done. I can go to the salon’. You really see the emotion. You realise how connected you are to them. There’s been a lot of lockdown babies as well so you are seeing clients who got busy over lockdown, who are now pregnant, and then you see all their kids come through. Those are really nice moments to share. 

Chloé: A few clients of mine have expressed, when I’ve done a big change for them that they instantly gone home and made other big changes in their life because they didn’t realise something needed changing until they felt good about themselves.

What invigorates you? What inspires you creatively or spiritually?

Pont: Coffee at the moment…What invigorates me is the range of different people I meet. I get inspired by them because everyone has their different stories, backgrounds, and is doing different things. I personally get quite inspired by that. I have got so many clients doing such amazing things both in their careers and even in life. Some of my clients have gone onto these weird camps where they are trying to connect with their soul, and listening to that and I am like ‘Oh, wow’. I get quite inspired by that. 

Chloé: You take something from everyone that you talk to, don’t you? I think it’s really important to find inspiration from things that aren’t necessarily related to what you’re doing. We always say that it is important that we follow artists and music and fashion and not necessary only follow hairdressing. You are taking it in subconsciously, and before you know it, I am doing a hair colour that I have seen on an artwork instead of something I’ve seen on someone’s hair.

Pont: Another main inspiration is music for me. Bebop is a jazz term. We were looking at music terms because we are both really into music. You get all these different subcultures that go with it and that dictates a fashion behind it and going off that is the hairstyles, the ideas, the attitude behind it. That’s quite inspiring as well. 

Who would be your dream makeover?

Chloé: I find that such a hard question.

Pont: The person whose hair I would like to get my hands on was this model from The Blitz Kids era. She was called Scarlett Cannon. A lot of looks done on her were quite extreme. She went to this salon in I think it was in Kensington Gardens called ‘Produktion’ and it was owned by two people. One of them is Ross Cannon who ended up being her partner. One of her iconic looks was essentially a black cross which was kind of shaped into her fringe and the rest of it was shaved off. I drew a lot of inspiration from them in terms of they were almost like an anti salon. You know, you come in and there’s quite heavy industrial music playing, they were turning out all these weird and wonderful cuts, and it’s good to see how far you can push it. She has done a lot of these shoots, especially for i-D which are so impactful. I’d quite like to get my hands on her hair because she was so open. 

Any advice to your younger selves or hairdressers starting out?

Chloé: Find the salon that’s right for you. I think that every salon is completely different. I definitely worked at salons that were not the right style for me. You definitely need to find that atmosphere and style you like. If you are in the wrong place, it does not mean the career is not for you. 

Pont: I think a bit of advice that I would give to hairdressers is to surround yourself with people who inspire you. You need to create that culture that prepare you in a way. Be openminded, and allow things to kind of happen as well and… 

Chloé: Patience.

Pont: Yeah, being patient. Work can be frustrating sometimes and it is the same thing with hair and that’s okay. You learn from it and you push yourself a little bit more, but as long as you are constantly finding that inspiration from others around you, I think that’s very important.