Jane Wei: A Loft Story
Competing in the business world relies on a mix of a great product or service, catchy business name, and impeccable operation, but adding an extra touch of style may be the avant garde flair you need to stand out.
Cue Jane Wei: creator of hairdressing salon, A Loft Story, who understands the importance of great style and adds as much flair to her business’s space, as she does to her client's hair.
Incredibly quirky herself with long white tresses, Jane details the importance of style for A Loft Story and how it has helped her business stand out in a saturated industry.
Arriving at the premises feels a bit like wandering into an artist’s garage; illustrations of Indigenous art are plastered alongside the outside wall on the business’s back street in Newtown. Fresh white light, floods into a contemporary space, and a warm atmosphere permeates from the moment you step in.
“I’ve always loved the space. I lived down the road and used to come here all the time. It used to be a café and then a ramen noodle bar, I fell in love with the high ceilings and bright natural light”.
Discovering the space was soon to be up for lease, Jane made the decision to start her own hairdressing business.
“It was a gamble because if I was going to open a business, I’d be putting everything on the line and I needed the right space to give me a good start. Perseverance is everything, so I really nagged the agent…I told him it was my birthday and he couldn’t let me down”.
Jane signed the lease a day after her birthday, and began an impressive, six day transformation of the space before she opened her doors to a long list of regular clients and intrigued newcomers.
Designed from her own hand drawn floor plans, Jane highlights, “there’s a whole bunch of weird stuff going on in one place but complementing one another.”
Some of the items on display include a 1.8metre 80-year-old long horn fern, a motorbike and an ostrich egg.
“People like knowing they’ve found or learnt something that others don’t know about yet and they can share at the next dinner party."
"Word of mouth has been great to my business, and it seems the more crazy things I decorate the space with, the more people love it!” Jane enthuses.
The ultimate aim of the space is to collaborate with other artists as much as Jane expresses her own personal style.
Showcasing local artists work, pieces featured in the salon are put on rotation and curated by Jane to fit the mood of the space. There’s even talk of the venue being rented out for classes and functions or possibly becoming the setting of a boutique cocktail bar in the evenings.
Leila, Jane’s loyal client turned business advisor says, “she’s got an amazing eye for fashion and decoration, she doesn’t only style people’s hair but the entire space!”
“Jane chronically undersells herself”, Leila adds, “she’s picked every piece in here: everything from the amazing plaques, to the artwork, to the unique items of clothing for sale on that rack”.
Jane continues “You’d never think that tucked behind the sea of shops on King Street there’s a calming space you can interact with."
“When you’re getting your hair done you could be somewhere for hours; here you can look at some of the handpicked clothing and accessories on sale, enjoy the art, and grab a coffee at the café."
Born in Beijing where she lived until the age of 12, Jane’s creativity and key eye for design manifested from an early age.
“I was never the study type, I’ve always been, how can I put this… ‘distracted’!” says Jane, laughing loudly, “at school in China I’d be force-fed all this knowledge and yelled at for not doing my homework”
Luckily for Jane her mother, a teacher, recognized and encouraged her daughter’s creativity and allowed her to embrace her individuality in their new Australian home.
Jane smiles recounting anecdotes of friendly bets, conversations with customers and avant-garde haircuts, before pausing reminded of a quote by Coco Chanel: “a woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life”.
Needless to say, great service and style see Jane's clients almost always come back for more…could this be A Loft Story?
“A story has different chapter and allows you the freedom to change: it’s a journey” says Jane about the name, “I don’t mind if it sounds like a love story because it should evoke a feeling in people, I want it to be a little bit romantic…”