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Monday, April 15, 2024

Choices Hair Studio Dominates the 2024 Beauty Besties

The Delmar salon was led by owner Leeanne Shade, manager Tammie Martin and associate trainer Mellyia Maicus.

Watching Choices Hair Studio stylists Tammie Martin, Mellyia Maicus and Leeanne Shade interact, it’s easy to see why the three hair dressers swept the Beauty Professional category of this year’s Bestie Awards: They’re besties themselves.

“All of us have friendships with each other outside of the salon,” says Choices manager Martin of the 22 women who work at the Delmar salon. “We are so connected to each other and feel such a strong bond. It’s important to have that family feeling because we spend so much time together.”

Both Martin and Shade began working at the salon in 1988, five years before Shade took over as the owner and changed the business name to Choices. Since then, they’ve been building up a team of talented hairdressers who offer all sorts of services to clients at a wide range of price points.

“Leeanne encourages you to be the best you are as an individual person and stylist,” says Maicus, who joined the Choices team in 2013 and is now in charge of training new stylists. “She doesn’t want a cookie-cutter salon where everybody’s the same. If your strength is in one area, she’s going to empower you to do that.”

The result? A salon where customers have (you guessed it) choices—believe it or not, not everyone is looking for balayage. Clients can choose a stylist who’s 17, or one who’s nearly 70. They can choose someone who specializes in curly hair, extensions, facials, nonsurgical grafting for hair loss or—yes—balayage. They even have choices when it comes to how much they pay.

“We do women, men and children here,” Shade says. “So I didn’t want a name that was too female driven. I wanted to incorporate that we do everything.” 

And don’t think that the abundance of services at Choices is at the expense of the salon’s quality. They do everything well. In addition to first, second and third place honors in the Beauty Professional category, the salon went home with first-place wins for Facial, Hair Salon and Customer Service—out of all businesses in the Capital Region. Martin and Maicus even nabbed first- and second-place wins, respectively, in the Hair Dresser category.

Choices’ success after all these years can be at least partially attributed to its workplace culture—the Choices stylists aren’t worried about one stylist taking another’s client. “We’d rather have them come to anybody here than go up the street,” Shade says. “So we work as a team and consult as a team.” Another part—and this is a biggie for Choices—is continuing education. The regular classes Shade holds at the salon to keep stylists up to date on the latest beauty trends are one of the main reasons Maicus was drawn to work there in the first place, and Martin is known for never missing a class—even one that was held on the day after she had major surgery.

But the biggest piece of Choices’ success story is its staff’s members’ passion for their work. “I just enjoy being able to give somebody confidence in themselves,” Martin says. “When you get a card in the mail that says ‘I’ve never felt so beautiful,’ it’s so rewarding.”  

Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore
Natalie Moore is the director of content at Capital Region Living and Saratoga Living.

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