By Katrina Simyab | Photography by Hillary Schave
Growing up, Cassie Redmond always wanted to be a hairstylist, just like her mom.
“In our eighth grade [yearbook] the teachers guessed what we were going to do, and mine was a hairstylist!” she says. However, her journey as owner of artsy salon Rebel Hair wasn’t always easy.
Following her graduation from beauty school in 2005, she worked for years as a hairstylist and hair color educator for others. In 2013, she opened her own tiny salon suite. But this first attempt at entrepreneurship wasn’t successful due to her unhealthy relationship with drugs and alcohol.
“I couldn’t manage my life, my money, [and] my clients, and it just got really, really overwhelming,” says Redmond.
Redmond joined a recovery program and has been sober since 2014. Afterward, she went back to school, earned a graphic design degree and landed a job — but it didn’t fulfill her aspirations. She took a leap of faith and quit her job so she could go back to pursuing her passion.
After a few starts and stops, Redmond rented a salon suite and launched her new business, Rebel Hair.
Specializing in vivid hair color, Redmond has built a creative space that has grown in popularity. As her salon continued to thrive, Redmond was strategic with her finances. She secured a business loan from Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) and Kiva, a crowdfunding loan platform WWBIC introduced her to. As of press time, Rebel Hair will be settling into a new, six-chair, 1,600-square-foot salon on Madison’s west side.
“My-pie-in-the-sky dream is happening,” says Redmond.
As a self-described “hair magician,” she’s built a positive workplace. She doesn’t require hairstylists to sign non-compete contracts to limit their ability to work if they leave a salon — a common practice at other salons. She also provides regular, free education for her employees, has flexible work hours and doesn’t require hairstylists to work nights or weekends.
Rebel Hair is also proudly LGBTQIA+-friendly, with gender-free pricing and inclusive language with customers.
“We want everybody to be able to come in and feel safe getting their hair done.”