Find Rachel Ripken at:
Music: i feel like a character in animal crossing by Commuted
"Come on in and pull yourself up a chair
Let the fun begin, it's time to let down your hair!"
- Cyndi Lauper, Pee Wee's Playhouse Theme
It isn’t a stretch to say that having a good hairdresser is about as important as having a good doctor. A trip to a new salon or barber can be just as harrowing as a trip to the walk-in clinic and each can easily leave you worse off than before. If you’ve ever had a really bad experience at either one, you already know that “Have you ever been called a hypochondriac before?” feels only marginally worse than asking for a ‘60s Goldie Hawn pixie cut and instead receiving an “I’d like to speak to the manager” bob. If you know the struggle and haven’t found the right one yet (hairdresser that is, please reach out if you know a good doctor), look no further! Rachel Ripken will fix you up, make you feel at home in her home and give you the anti-salon experience of your wildest hair dreams.
Rachel’s salon, Ripken’s Playhouse, has a vibe all its own. This itself is enough to explain why, after years of working at some very prestigious salons, Rachel decided to go independent and invite her long-time clients into her Queen Street West apartment for their regular appointments. Now when you get your hair done, you’re not just getting a dash of Ripken, you’re getting the full, immersive Ripken experience, which comes complete with the decor, the music, the refreshments and the very real possibility of a rooftop recorder concert (yes, recorder as in the instrument you learned in grade 2 - you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Rachel go ham on the recorder) for a never-ceasing lineup of tinder-profile-pic-takers in the famous Toronto graffiti alley below. There are other, logistical reasons for the move to become home-based: she can manage her own schedule and book clients at their convenience, not necessarily just within the hours or with the same breakneck turnover rate a storefront salon would have; she can set her own pricing, which is unisex and not the hyper-inflated rates you’ll find anywhere but First Choice; and she gets to be with her beloved Persian cat Charlie, the official mascot of Ripken’s Playhouse. Conventional salons will often appoint each stylist to a particular service (ie. “you do colour, you do cuts”), which finds you being passed from one to another, hoping your head doesn’t become a visual representation of “broken telephone.” Meanwhile, Rachel can do it all - women’s and mens cuts on all hair textures and lengths, colour (fun colours, bleaching, highlights, balayage, etc.), men’s barbering (as well as tapering, fades, etc.), styling and haircare - and she does it all extremely well, without picking up the “telephone” even once.
All else aside, the most important part of the Ripken experience is the friend each client invariably finds in Rachel. Her disposition is sweet and exuberant, her hospitality impeccable and for all the fun, crazy stories she has to share from her life, she also wants to know about you. After your first few appointments, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to just hang out and catch up on her incredible patio after your service is finished or stick around for an impromptu photo session because your hair just looks SO good. You will never walk away disappointed because Rachel knows what ‘60s Goldie Hawn means, as well as any other reference you throw at her. Your hair is one of the first things people notice about you and can be so key in shaping how you feel about yourself, so a hairdresser that listens to you, learns your hair and makes it somehow better every time you see them is huge. In the same way your mom might send a card to your family doctor, lawyer or financial planner around the holidays because “they’ve really been such a lifesaver”, you may find yourself getting a touch emotional over how you’d never really loved your hair until you met Rachel. So don’t wait - you can book your first appointment now at her booking site or slide into her DMs @ripkenhairs!