For years, a storefront located at 218 Lexington Avenue sat empty and completely underutilized, which was unfortunate considering its prime location – close to Elmwood Avenue and bounded by a series of nearby thriving businesses.
It wasn’t until developer Nick Sinatra bought the building that the future of the space began to look bright. Coincidentally, another nearby parcel was also part of Sinatra’s acquisition – 616 Elmwood Avenue. The small Elmwood building was home to Relle Organic Salon, owned by Dawn and Brandon Kline. “When Nick bought the Elmwood building he asked us if we wanted to move over to Lexington Avenue, where he would build out a larger custom space for us,” Brandon told me. “The move allowed us to take an already gutted space and move forward with an (almost) cart blanch design. The Lexington space was a vacant frame shop for many, many years. Now we have three chairs and we’re expanding upstairs. We incorporated many reuse elements into the space, including lumber from Buffalo ReUse and The Foundry. We also incorporated scrap metal in the hand forged metal brackets which were fabricated by local artisan Mike Thomset.”
Aside from coming up with a stunningly beautiful salon, Dawn and Brandon have also successfully positioned themselves in the forefront of the organic salon movement. For anyone who cares about the chemicals that they are continually exposed to in the salon and cosmetic industry, there are safe havens such as Relle that use the safest and least harmful products that are on the market. “Our natural products are still effective,” Brandon explained to me. “People don’t understand how harmful synthetic products can be. Only now are studies coming out that show how harmful some products are. Everything we carry is USDA certified, organic, soy based… you can tell if a salon is using chemicals because you can smell it in the air when you walk in – it’s an overwhelming odor that should tell you what’s going on.”
There is a simplicity behind Relle that transcends the entire business model. According to Brandon, he wanted the salon to be very calm, and not at all chaotic. The naturalness of the space and the products, combined with Brandon’s overall interior design sensibilities, has resulted in a very unique salon setting in the Elmwood Village. “The bigger space will allow us to offer manicures and pedicures, skin care such as body sugaring, and I’m even contemplating hosting a meditation group after business hours. Relle is a salon that cares about wellness, and the body caring process. We want people to get together to learn how to take better care of themselves in mind, body and spirit. If we can contribute to someone not only looking good, but feeling good, then that’s important to us.”
*Relle is currently hiring