Nothing beats the feeling of a good hair day. Style director Louise Hilsz shares a new inner-city hair salon that delivers on that dream.
"There is no other duo I trust more with my hair than these two style gurus. Kurt Counsell for his precision cutting and Whitney Stevens for her colour expertise. The magic this combination can create sees me looking my best for any occasion."
When friends Kurtis Counsell and Whitney Stevens decided to open a salon, it was an urban loft-style premises tucked in behind Auckland's colourful K'rd on Cross Street that ticked all the boxes. The pair wanted an environment to create everyday minimalist hair looks that you as a client could manage at home. Louise Hilsz took a visit to get some on-trend styling advice.
What and who was your inspiration for this salon?
Whitney Stevens WS.
Our space has an industrial feel which we love. We did all the design ourselves and were inspired by so many different elements. Beautiful cafes, homewares, a Scandinavian vibe, which is characterised by simplicity, minimalism and functionality. We’ve softened the space with green plant life and different textiles. It’s everything we envisioned.
Where did the name Hiem come from?
Kurt Counsell KC:
Hiem stands for 'Hair Inspired by Everyday Minimalism', the letters make up the name. The pronunciation of Hiem (sounds like time) and comes from the Icelandic word Hiem, which means home.
What is 'everyday minimalism' when it comes to hair styling?
KC: Everyday minimalism for us means low key or simple. Our lives are hectic today, and we often overcomplicate things, so we wanted this philosophy to reflect the way we treat clients, in our beautiful salon space to create simple hair looks our clients can style themselves at home.
What do you both specialise in?
KC: We both specialise in beautiful natural hair colour. Think soft balayage and blonde baby lights, which are both favourite looks of ours. It’s what we first bonded over as stylists, and because of that, we have a large clientele who come to us for this exact colour technique.
WS: Kurt's colour and his skill he carries through the entire service, also his infamous blow-drying skills, which have a cult following.
Some balayage and baby lights inspiration from Hiem's Instagram.
What makes Hiem different from other hair salons?
KC: Our approach to the customer. By removing the awkward reception, and phone, and utilising online booking, we offer relaxed uninterrupted energy. We give undivided attention during your colour service and the entire salon experience.
What do you love about running your own business?
KC: Being my boss is great. I like having complete creative and financial control and also targeting people that we both want to have in our salon.
What are your favourite hair trends right now?
KC: I believe in taking elements of colour and styling trends and incorporating them into our work. I am drawn to a more natural lived in hair look, which is the type of work both Whitney and I do at Hiem, which also happens to be on trend and has been for quite some time.
What brands do you stock and why?
O&M styling products. And a beautiful ammonia-free hair colour from the same brand called CØR.color. It's gorgeous to work with and hands down the best product I've ever used. It is free from ammonia, PPD, resorcinol and gluten, which are all known allergens and carcinogens. It's made in Australia, environmentally friendly and designed for work with our UV light here In New Zealand, which is notorious for your colour fading. We also have Beauty Dust Co. a 100 percent natural hair care range, and root cover powder that is New Zealand made, it's eco-friendly with beautiful signature natural fragrances from France.
What has been your career high to date?
KC: I like to think success is measured by what my clients think of me. I come from very humble beginnings and have stayed true to that. When I started working for myself last year, this installed such a confirmation of my worth to people. Not just because they love me doing there hair but because I make them feel better about themselves. That’s a career high in itself, which I get to enjoy every day.
WS: This is it for me. I’m so excited about opening Hiem. Kurt and I have talked about having this space for about five years, and it’s finally happening! The timing is perfect; it's meant to be.
Doing work, we are proud of and having happy clients who we love and who love us, is also a constant career high for me.
What is your best hair tip?
KC: I’m going to bring out my inner mum - healthy hair starts internally. Take hair vitamins such as silica, evening primrose oil and omega 3's. Lots of whole foods and drink lots of water. Water feeds our skin cells, which supplies the roots and follicle of the hair, so drinking your eight glasses of water a day enables vitamins to stimulate the scalp and for you to grow healthier-looking locks.
WS: Treat your hair how you want it to look. Use the right products to protect and nourish your colour. Use protein-based shampoo and conditioner, especially if you lighten your hair this will keep it strong. Investing in the right haircare is invaluable.
What is the one beauty hair product you're never without?
KC: I love a good multi-use product. O&M Project Sukuroi Gold Smoothing Balm is my go-to for the base of all my blow-drys, and I use a little after to finish and define the dry style. Also never forget you can do a lot with a good can of hairspray.
WS: A good, nourishing hair treatment will change your life.