Hairstylist helps clients express their style


Journeyman hairstylist Melanie Boudreau puts the finishing touches on her client's cut. Angele Cano/NNSL photo

Journeyman hairstylist Melanie Boudreau puts the finishing touches on her client’s cut.
Angele Cano/NNSL photo

With the arrival of spring and ever-increasing sunlight, there are many people wanting to ‘lighten and brighten’ in more ways than one.

Melanie Boudreau is currently helping many people do just that.

The licensed, certified journeyman hairstylist, professional makeup artist and all things in between specializes in colours. She said that, although it’s what she does most, she enjoys many aspects of her job.

Her salon, ReNew Hair Spa, has been running for five years in Hay River’s Old Town, and has a large client base.

I definitely have a passion for this line of work,” she explained. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m getting to know people, creating relationships with clients. Knowing I make a difference in their lives, with how they feel, definitely feeds my ego.”

Boudreau began her apprenticeship at the ripe old age of 15 as she was attending the Alberta High School of Fine Arts and taking cosmetology.

Now at 30, she has roughly 15 years of experience in cuts, colouring, styling, makeup artistry and so much more. Her services cost a ballpark figure of $50 per hour, depending on how much material is used.

Boudreau starts with a consultation, getting a feel for what a client, male or female, would like. Then she sets to work with her plan, alternating with six different scissor blades. Her main work involves colour theory and practice. Before she can achieve the correct colour, she sometimes needs to pre-lighten.

She hadn’t initially planned on coming back to Hay River. Having secured a three-year apprenticeship in Calgary with renowned master hairstylist Vi To, she continued onto make-up artistry school while building up her own client base. She moved back to Hay River seven years ago and began styling for both men and women in a salon in the Mackenzie Place high rise and later Godwin Mall before striking out on her own.

My dad was in sales and he talked me into moving back here and I’m so glad I did,” she said.


Boudreau now works in her own salon, which is a converted sun room attached to a deck. In summer, she said some clients take it outdoors in the sun to let their colour set. But the sunny salon isn’t a bad atmosphere, either.

It’s so nice and sunny in there now,” she said. “It’s my little oasis. I love my job and this spot here. It’s so nice and private and peaceful.”

Surrounded by sinks and mirrors, scissors, colour tubes, hair products and colour samples, Boudreau noted her work isn’t only technical, but social.

“What’s said in the salon stays in the salon,” she said. “I hold many secrets and people know they can trust me. It’s almost a therapy for them because it’s a lot of one on one. People can come in and renew, and leave feeling relaxed and revitalized.”

Boudreau isn’t big into advertising, and believes the best publicity is through word of mouth.

She also welcomes constructive criticism, noting feedback is essential to the profession.

I encourage many people to tell the stylist what they are thinking, because otherwise we don’t learn and grow,” she said. “That’s a fundamental part of the profession. Communication is number one.”

— Angele Cano