Local queer-owned salon turns three

Wow Hair and Beauty Bar in Roath opened its doors three years ago and now the business is in a position to support other queer enterprises in the city  

two women sat down with a picture of their friend in between them at their lgbtq+ friendly salon
Mandie (left) and Paige (right) with a picture of Vicki who helped make the dream a reality

Queer-owned salon Wow Hair and Beauty Bar in Roath just celebrated its third birthday and now the business is looking at how they can help the LGBTQ+ business community.

Since opening its doors three years ago, salon owners Mandie Rees, 48, and Paige Jones, 23, have welcomed lots of different clients from the LGBTQ+ community and therefore often cross paths with other queer business owners.

Wow believes in the celebration of these queer businesses, and after three successful years’ trading they are now in a position to help celebrate and promote other local businesses in their salon. “We’re all about a community, so it just made sense” said Rees.

Rees and Jones originally met working at the very popular LGBTQ+ friendly Wow bar in Cardiff and became great friends. Vicki, the then-owner of Wow bar and their old manager, who also became close with the pair, had always encouraged Mandie to pursue her dream of opening a salon. Not long after the bar closed down Vicki got a terminal cancer diagnosis and offered Mandie the Wow name. 

Unfortunately Vicki passed away, but the salon has been a way for the pair to honour her memory and provides another safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to come to.

“It seems to be a running theme that everyone talks about how community based it is”, said Jones. The community she refers to is the local queer community that the salon has been a hub for since opening.

One of the businesses the salon promotes on its premises is DesignShedCymru, a Welsh shop which creates inclusive designs and one-of-a-kind products aimed at the queer community.

When asked about the impact Wow has had on their business, owner Katy said, “It has been lush to not only be a customer with Wow but also have them as a fellow ally in the queer business world.” They went on to say that Wow have been there since the beginning and helped massively in the start-up process.

Wow now hopes to open a second salon and to start their own training academy to support individuals in the community with life skills, and practical hair and beauty skills.

The academy will be aimed at those who have struggled with mental health difficulties, neurodivergent individuals and people who struggle in mainstream education. “They’ll come to us and they will learn basic life skills, key skills like literacy and numeracy,” said Rees, “but more importantly, life skills on how to deal with challenging situations.”