Fox & Mane hair salon creates a cosy queer haven in Guildford

Couple Jo and Lou have been working hard to dig out a special, cosy den for the LGBTQIA+ community in Guildford.

The duo decided to found and develop Fox & Mane last year, a combination hair salon, homewares store and gallery space that embraces their queer family, and the wider local community.

We caught up with Jo and Lou for a chat about why it was important to them to carve out a queer space in the suburbs, ditch the gender binary and how their relationship strengthens their joint venture.

“This is my 27th year! I can’t even remember why I got into hair but I absolutely love it. As soon as I went for it, I just took to it like a duck to water,” Jo said.

“I’ve seen many changes happen over the years, even in the language that we use to describe products. Saying cleanse instead of shampoo…”

Jo argues that if the fundamental language of hair styling can change, why can’t more salons be more inclusive in all areas when serving their clients?

“We’ve completely abolished the 1950s price list and we’re charging by cut now. There is no ladies cut. There is no men’s cut,” Jo continues.

“We wanted to include non-binary people because we wondered how they would feel when they don’t fit in to those pricing structures,” Lou adds.

The pair tell me they were inspired to make the policy changes after hearing the words of non-binary poet Gray Crosbie, shared with them by a friend.

“When I saw that slam poetry, I was literally horrified that somebody wouldn’t have a good time at the salon,” Jo explains.

“It should be fun. It’s meant to be fun. You shouldn’t have to sit there in anxiety the whole time!”

While Fox & Mane was born out of a long-running hair business, the team have developed the space into a welcoming haven for visitors that encourages people to stick around and get comfy, with Mane Homewares and The Mane Collective curated by Lou.

“I never would have seen myself in hair to be fair,” Lou explains.

“Jo and I have known each other for a very long time, and have been together for two years now. We wanted to build something on what was already built by Jo, which was a very successful home salon.”

“With the merging together of our households, we thought it would be fantastic if we actually took this to a commercial premise.”

“I’m not actually a hairdresser myself, I’ve started to assist in the salon and I do extensions as well, but my contribution to the business is the homewares, and we do a monthly artists collective as well.”

The collective brings together the wares and creations of LGBTQIA+ artists and community craftspeople from all around – and Lou is always on the lookout for up-and-comers seeking a space to show off their talents.

It was also important for Lou and Jo to find a space where LGBTQIA+ folks would be embraced, while ensuring they could cater to people who don’t live or frequently venture into the city.

“I never go to the city for anything because I can’t parallel park!” Jo laughed.

“It also costs money and takes the entire day. Around here you’ve got free parking, the pub opposite, you’ve got lunch or brunch if you want to…”

The pair note the Rose & Crown, across from Fox & Mane, regularly hosts events for community group Lez-B-Frendz, affirming they’d chosen the right spot.

“We started thinking and brainstorming some ideas, and we wanted to be in an area that was going to be accepting of our community – and us,” Lou shares.

“We find Guildford brilliant for that, we haven’t found any negativity, everybody we’ve met so far has been wonderful.”

Fox & Mane is located at 1/106 Swan Street, Guildford. You can connect with the team on Facebook and Instagram.

You can also check out Mane Homewares and The Mane Collective on Instagram, and LGBTQIA+ artists and craftspeople and encouraged to get in touch with Lou for info on how to get involved!

Leigh Andrew Hill

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