Sherry Clayton, owner of Wavelengths salon and a stylist herself, now owns the 1920’s Ninth Street building in which Wavelengths is located. From its original tin ceilings (now painted an elegant silver) to its exposed brick walls to its history as a grocery store and union hall for Erwin Mill workers, the building tells quite a story. The building has likely heard a lot of stories, too, since the salon opened in 1994. Stylists will often tell you that their work is part talk therapy, part hair design. While that may or may not be true (depending on the stylist!), Sherry can confirm that she has heard her share of stories in her time at Wavelengths (not that she’d divulge any of them here!).
Sherry loves doing hair and makeup for client weddings. And, while she loves seeing the bride’s transformation, she is especially fond of working with mothers and grandmothers of the bride or groom. In addition to weddings, Sherry has done hair and makeup for the funerals of special, long term clients. After one client’s funeral, the client’s husband started coming into the salon every so often as a way of feeling closer to his late wife, and he would always tell Sherry how much she’d loved it there. It is, in fact, the clients - the stories they tell and the relationships that she fosters with them - that Sherry loves most about her work. She has had some clients for as long as twenty-five years, guiding them as they graduated from perms to balayage and from covering their grays to growing them out.
Another thing Sherry loves about her job is her talented and diverse staff. Some of the stylists - including Amira and Donna - have been with the salon for over twenty years. And while many barbershops and hair salons are still segregated spaces, Wavelengths is proud to have a diverse team - with stylists from both Morocco and Kenya - that brings in a diverse clientele. While these stylists provide a huge host of services, the salon specializes in color and curly hair. Their color services include highlights, balayage, and dimensional color, all done with high quality brands like L’oreal and Aveda. And anyone who has curly locks will tell you that they won’t trust their hair to just anyone - proper cutting techniques and curl-specific products (like the Ouidad line, which Wavelengths carries) are essential to keeping curly hair tamed and beautiful.
The business side of Wavelengths is not something Sherry was formally trained for. She attended beauty school right here on Ninth Street at the Atlantic Beauty College (now Elmo’s Diner!), but she never went to business school. Instead, Sherry learned on the job. Happily, she discovered that she was very good with money and resources. As a result, her business has thrived. The secret to running a great business, she says, is to show up and give the client more than they expect. Though she says it’s not quite true that salons are recession-proof, Wavelengths has enjoyed the steady support of the Ninth Street community even during tough economic times. These days, Sherry is delighted to see the new business brought in by the growth in the Ninth Street district. As someone who grew up in this area, Sherry says it’s wonderful to see Ninth Street come alive again.
When Sherry’s not at the salon, you might find her …
Spending time with her husband Doug and their three dogs - a Yorkie named Scooter, a Pomeranian named Arty, and an Akita mix named Duke.
Reading great books. Most recently, she’s finished The Slight Edge, a life and business advice book by Jeff Olson, and Little Fires Everywhere, a work of fiction by Celeste Ng.
Grabbing lunch at one of her favorite Ninth Street haunts - Happy + Hale, the Whole Foods hot bar, or Elmo’s.
Chatting on the phone with her son Sean, an attorney who lives in Charlotte with his wife Sarah.