At first glance, Model Citizen Salon may seem like any other place to get your roots done or a new do. However, upon stepping through the old, wooden doors, it’s apparent this little salon off Prince Avenue is much more than what meets the eye.
Model Citizen prides itself on three different things: its knack for funky hair colors, its charitable work within the Athens community and the kicker—the fact that there is a tattoo parlor at the back of the salon.
Coming up on its five-year anniversary, Model Citizen has been a “safe space” for employees and customers alike, according to hairstylist Maddie Mansell.
“People feel comfortable—they can just walk in whenever, whoever,” Mansell said. “We’re allowed to be who we are…I just feel safe here.”
For the people
Model Citizen Salon is located between the Daily Groceries Co-Op and Avid Bookshop. Almost five years ago exactly, Athenians Elizabeth Elliott O’Shaughnessy and Shayne Jordan McBride opened Model Citizen to meet the creative needs of customers and serve their community.
Current manager, Lauren McCarthy, said the heart and soul of the salon was originally founded on the concept of community outreach. Other than the owners being rooted in Athens, they chose to open the salon here due to its tight-knit community and opportunity to give back.
“We try to do as much volunteer work as we can through this salon,” McCarthy said. “We love it.”
Volunteer work done through Model Citizen includes partnering with the humane society to give animals haircuts, free haircuts known as ‘cutathons’ to benefit different charities and donating their services for various auctions.
An upcoming event is April 30 at The Rook and Pawn, where Model Citizen stylists will shave peoples’ heads to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for children with cancer.
“I think our best contribution is supporting the people who come in here,” McCarthy said.
“We do make a point to do volunteer work outside of that, but that emotional connection with people is a really strong bond.”
Nestled in the back of the salon is Chico Lou’s Fine Tattoos, a separate business owned by Sarah Fogle and named after her 19-year-old Chihuahua.
O’Shaughnessy and Fogle went to the same gym when they realized Fogle was leaving her old shop and O’Shaughnessy had rentable space. It’s two years later, and both Model Citizen and Chico Lou’s Fine Tattoos funnel each other customers.
Despite Fogle’s trepidations of venturing out on her own and leaving the life of working with other artists, she said she feels as though she is living out her college dream of offering clients a place to get their hair done and get tattooed as well.
“It really does go hand in hand. The cosmetologists, the stylists—they’re artists too,” Fogle said. “So we can kind of commiserate over that.”
Other than the privacy and control she has by being the only tattoo artist in her shop, Fogle said she is drawn to the fact that it is not as intimidating as typical tattoo shops are.
“You walk in there [traditional tattoo shops] and it’s a cool kids’ club, and it can be a little overwhelming,” Fogle said. “So I was really trying to create a space within this awesome space where people were relaxed and not intimidated.”
Creativity at its finest
Filled with hanging lights, indie music and flags, the salon exuberates creativity and calmness—an environment the staff strides for.
“We make a point to be really open. We want people from all walks of life to feel welcome here.” —Lauren McCarthy
Clients can get regular services done such as a cut or highlights, however, this salon is known in particular for its experimentation with color.
And by color, they mean blues, pinks and pastels.
“The girl in the shampoo bowl right now—we’re doing part of her hair a red-black color, and then a quarter section white,” Mansell said. “You know like, I just have the coolest people come in here.”
McCarthy said when hiring stylists, the main assets they look for are good personalities and open minds—those and a knack for creativity.
“The number one thing is general human kindness,” McCarthy said. “You can train people in the way you like things done, but you can’t train personality types.”