Walk into Trim Salon off Mitchell Avenue in Fondren on a random afternoon, and you're just as likely to see an old-school southern Junior Leaguer from northeast Jackson as you are a creative covered in tattoos from the neck down. You might even see them sitting next to one another, chatting as they wait for their stylists.
That's exactly how Kate McNeely likes it.
McNeely, who owns Trim with her partner (in life and in business) Christie O'Bryant, was born in Jackson, but moved with her parents to Montana when she was in elementary school. They moved back to Mississippi during McNeely's junior year of high school.
She says hair and makeup has been her passion for as long as she can remember.
"I've always been into it, since the very early age of 4 or 5," she says. "My mom wore Beauty Control, and I would always play in her makeup. Then around 12 or 13, she allowed me to start coloring and cutting her hair, because I thought I could do it. I would watch 'A Makeover Story' on TLC and be like, 'I could foil her hair.' What took someone like an hour would take me four hours. My mom's hair would be blonde in the front and orange in the back—but I learned how to fix that, which is huge."
As a teen, McNeely started doing hair and makeup more frequently, for anyone who would let her—aunts, her parents' coworkers, friends. She did her own makeup and everyone else's for homecomings and proms.
After school, McNeely enrolled in cosmetology school, putting in hours in both Mississippi and Nashville, Tenn. Her life took a big turn in the middle of her studies when she got pregnant with her son, Finley.
"I was completely freaked out (about motherhood)," McNeely, 31, says. "Then I had Finley, and it drastically changed my whole life, for the better. It probably saved my life. I was on a pretty disastrous path."
Although the birth of her son grounded her preferred nomadic lifestyle, it also gave her focus. She graduated from school and got a job at Trio in Flowood, where she eventually became manager, in addition to styling full time. McNeely was at Trio nearly five years when the salon closed abruptly, and she made her way to Social Agenda. She worked there two years before she and O'Bryant bought Social Agenda and renovated the salon, rebranding it Trim.
McNeely says her goal for Trim is somewhat based on a salon she worked at while studying in Nashville. "This woman who owned it lived in New York," she says. "She had a manager, and it ran like clockwork. There were like 15 people working there, and it ran like a well-oiled machine. And it was the place to go. So I've always kind of held that as the standard."
O'Bryant handles the majority of the business side of the salon, while McNeely does hair and makeup, and works with clients. She also often styles for fashion shows, high-concept photo shoots and magazines (including the JFP's sister publication, BOOM Jackson). She says it breaks up the monotony of salon life and gives her a chance to experiment.
"You can get out and go to different venues, meet different people," she says. It's totally what you want to do. I get to experiment a lot. The people I usually work with have a lot of faith in me, so they don't give me strict guidelines."
While Social Agenda has focused on nails in addition to hair, Trim will be solely a hair salon by the first of the year. More renovations are underway to transform the manicure and pedicure room to accommodate a few more stylists. While McNeely and another stylist are comfortable working on all hair types, including natural hair, the salon is looking to bring in a stylist who specializes in African American hair, braids and more.
"Being in the area that we're in, we have all types of clients, and we want to be able to work with all of them," McNeely says. "We just want it to be a fun, funky place to get your hair done."
Call 601-982-5575 for an appointment at Trim Salon (419 Mitchell Ave.).
Got the Look?
As fashion weeks rolled across the globe last month, from New York to Paris to Tokyo, a few beauty trends popped up on multiple runways. Try one or more of these quick changes to freshen up your look this winter:
• Bold brows
• Wine lipstain
• Metallic eyeliner
• Smoky eyes
• Loose, messy bangs
• Updated cat-eye