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Hairbase Plus owner Sally Mehmet throws in towel (and clippers) as Stoke Newington salon closes

PUBLISHED: 12:30 17 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:15 19 December 2016

Stylist Sally Mehmet at Hairbase Plus with customer Samantha Morris. Picture: Polly Hancock

Stylist Sally Mehmet at Hairbase Plus with customer Samantha Morris. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The slightly sci-fi-sounding Hairbase Plus shuts on New Year's Eve. The Gazette heard why it's been such a pillar of Stoke Newington life.

Hairbase Plus will close on New Year's Eve. Picture: Polly HancockHairbase Plus will close on New Year's Eve. Picture: Polly Hancock

The owner of a Stokey salon that opened in 1980 will cut her last head of hair on New Year’s Eve.

Sally Mehmet, 58, has run Hairbase Plus in Stoke Newington High Street since she was 21.

Even before that, she was working as a hairdresser in the same road as a teenager. In fact, she knew she wanted to be a hairdresser when she was nine.

“Hair is not a job,” she said. “It’s a love.”

"Hair is not a job. It’s a love. Hairbase is one big community"

Sally Mehmet

Her clients, who feel the same about Sally, have not been taking news of the closure well.

“I only let them know last week,” she said, “and they can’t come to terms with it.

“People have been breaking down crying.

“My neighbour made me a huge poster that I’ve put in the window letting people know. You can see it from Dalston.”

Stylist Sally Mehmet at Hairbase Plus with customer Joanna Tamar. Picture: Polly HancockStylist Sally Mehmet at Hairbase Plus with customer Joanna Tamar. Picture: Polly Hancock

Other clients feel the end of the era should not be overlooked.

“The priest came over the other day and thinks we should have a mass because we’re closing,” she said.

Hairbase Plus welcomes clients from as far afield as Suffolk and Kent. “The majority of our regulars are from outside London,” Sally told the Gazette, “because I used to cut their hair when I was younger and since then they’ve moved away.”

Sally and her staff offer more than just a new hairstyle, she added.

In numbers

87: Distance, miles, from Suffolk to Stoke Newington – a trek regularly undertaken by Sally’s more loyal customers

42: Years Sally has been cutting hair

4: Generations of clients in some families

2080: Average number of haircuts the salon carries out per year

74880: Estimated number of haircuts carried out in Sally’s 36 years at Hairbase Plus

“It’s an advice centre. Hairbase Plus is one big community – one big family.”

Pelin Mehmet, Sally’s daughter, said: “This shop means so much to a lot of people in Stoke Newington”

Today Sally is still cutting the same people’s hair as when she was 18, seeing them go through four decades of styles.

Asked if one hair trend had stuck throughout the years, Sally said: “The layered bob is always there – all the other styles go and come round again and again.”

She laughed: “You’re making me feel vintage.”

Michelle Saberback, 50, has been going to Hairbase Plus since it opened and is one of four generations of clients. “My mother went to her,” she said. “So does my daughter and now my granddaughter.

“Sally is always there. It’s not just about being a hairdresser – she’s also a friend. She’s a lovely lady who’ll be sorely missed by everyone.”

The salon’s new occupier plans to shake things up a bit, but his face will be familiar to many of Sally’s clientele. “My son is taking it over,” she confided, “but he’s knocking it down and turning it into one of those trendy hipster barbers.

“He already owns one in Shoreditch. My clients wouldn’t go there.

“In his barber’s they sit on apple crates as waiting rooms. Can you imagine my old girls sitting on them? They’d get splinters.”

Dismayed, she added: “They use skateboards for their units.

“It’s two different worlds.”

If you have memories of the salon, e-mail gazette.letters@archant.co.uk.

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