In the early years of her successful career as a talented creative hair stylist, Lisa Stephenson Jones crossed paths with Dianne Degnan, a 16-year old tasked with the duties of folding towels and shampooing clients.
Both were working for Vidal Sassoon in Glasgow, Scotland, and little did either realize at the time how the trajectory of their lives would take them to lofty heights within their profession, reuniting them more than two decades later in Chattanooga.
Stephenson Jones, the owner of EV1 Barbershop & Salon that opened in 2016 in the heart of the thriving Southside community, climbed the ladder to assume a notable presence during her 17 years with Sassoon. She taught at the company’s academy in London before assuming the role of creative director with Sassoon locations in Atlanta and New York.
Ms. Degnan took a similar path from her native Scotland, following Ms. Stephenson Jones to London and Atlanta where she emerged as Sassoon’s color creative director for North America. After 20 years with Sassoon, Ms. Degnan launched the next phase of her career in Los Angeles, where she has become a highly-acclaimed colorist serving many of Hollywood’s elite.
Ms. Degnan will bring her skills to Chattanooga February 5-6, offering color sessions that have benefitted such clients as pop singer Christina Aguilera, rock legend Mick Jagger, actress Kim Basinger and supermodel Elle Macpherson. Degnan will also spend a day with the staff of EV1 Salon doing specialized training in color.
Those interested in booking an appointment with Ms. Degnan can contact the salon at (423) 803-9800. More information can be obtained online at www.ev1salon.com or via the salon’s Facebook or Instagram accounts. EV1 is located at 1301 Cowart Street.
“A lot of people claim to be a celebrity stylist, but it’s overused,” Ms. Stephenson Jones said. “I did Justin Bieber’s hair for two years when I was in Atlanta, and gave him that big haircut. But I wouldn’t consider myself a celebrity stylist. Dianne is legitimately a celebrity stylist, she works extremely fast, and she’s a bleach and tone specialist.”
Ms. Degnan’s visit is further evidence of Ms. Stephenson Jones’ desire to raise the level of excellence in Chattanooga’s hair stylist community, sharing her years of experience with Sassoon to impact those seeking the same career locally.
“It’s so exciting to have one of my contemporaries here,” Ms. Stephenson Jones said. “She’s so fun and she gets it. To have her here for a few days will truly be a thrill. To have that vibe with both of us being from the U.K. that sets us apart from everyone else, it validates what I’m hoping to accomplish in Chattanooga.
“Our staff will also be going to L.A. and working with Diane on some exciting projects there, seeing how that world works. We’re working on efficiency and our clients will ultimately benefit.”
Ms. Stephenson Jones never dreamed she would own her own salon in Chattanooga. Since starting her journey in the hair industry at the age of 16 in Manchester, England, she had an ultimate goal to someday perform her craft in New York. That dream was finally achieved in 2014.
“It took me about 16 years, but I got there,” Ms. Stephenson Jones said. “After eight years in Atlanta, I got transferred to uptown New York as the creative director at Sassoon’s flagship location in the U.S. That was the pinnacle of my career, and it was everything I thought it would be and more. I used to ride around on my bike with my headphones in and would almost cry. It just felt right, and I absolutely loved New York.”
But Ms. Stephenson Jones left Sassoon a year later, uncomfortable with the company’s direction since being acquired by Regis. She landed in Brooklyn at the posh Ludlow Blunt salon - then known as Tommy Guns - that was frequented by New York’s elite crowd.
Thinking her career would continue to flourish in the Big Apple, Ms. Stephenson Jones’ future was dramatically altered after meeting Todd Jones, a Dalton, Georgia native visiting New York on a business trip.
“I would normally go for some rock star, a uber-hip guy, and I went on a date with him,” Ms. Stephenson Jones said. “When he got out of his car, he looked so conservative. But there was something so attractive about him and I knew straightaway there was something special about him.”
The couple dated long-distance for a year, before Ms. Stephenson Jones moved to Chattanooga in 2015 and got married the next year.
“After all those years of wanting to go to New York, maybe it was for me just to meet my husband,” Ms. Stephenson Jones said.
Their daughter, Evie, was born in 2016 and served as the namesake for her Southside salon that opened in November that same year. The company’s logo honors Ms. Stephenson Jones’ heritage by resembling the British royal stamp.
Ms. Stephenson Jones convinced a former co-worker, Brittany Holmes, to move from New York to join her in launching her new salon.
“I told her ‘There is such an opportunity down here. Nobody’s doing what we do. No one is doing shaves, there’s no barber shops,’” Ms. Stephenson Jones said. “I believed we could make a big impression here and asked Brittany to just give me two years of her life and give it a go. She’s been here three years now and is such a big part of what we have done that I cannot imagine what I would have done without her.”
After completing a one-year training regimen, Gabrielle Henderson and Laney Millard are the latest additions to EV1’s roster of stylists. It provides the perfect blend to combine Stephenson Jones’ passions for education and creativity.
“Education is really the key, and in our industry, Sassoon is the Harvard of hair,” Ms. Stephenson Jones said. “I close the salon every Tuesday and teach my staff through the Sassoon model I’ve taught for years. It’s important that all of our staff is able to achieve a proper balance between work and life.”
EV1 has a stylish, comfortable feel to it, offering clientele a cup of English tea, hot chocolate, coffee or Chattanooga Whiskey while visiting the salon.
“I want people to have an experience when they walk in, and not feel rushed,” Ms. Stephenson Jones said. “You can expect consistency when you come to our salon, have a nice conversation, and no waiting around.”
Ms. Stephenson Jones hopes to one day open an academy to share her training to other stylists and graduates of cosmetology school as well as offering a concierge model that provides haircuts and shaves to guests at hotels.
She sees the continued growth in Chattanooga and the progressive mindset of its residents as a perfect combination.
“When I first moved here from New York it was a bit scary,” Ms. Stephenson Jones said. “But I’ve been pleasantly surprised. This is an educated, well-traveled people who know quality and want to buy quality. They are willing to pay for excellence. The city itself has been wonderful, and I think we arrived at the right time. I feel the excitement building and growing.”
Contact Paul Payne by email at email@example.com or via Twitter @Paul_A_Payne