lchemy Hair Labs in Philadelphia will host a mixer in celebration of Trans Day of Visibility. On the evening of March 31, guests can network with local professionals and discuss aesthetic, cultural and legal topics related to transitioning.
Erica Engstrom is the owner and founder of Alchemy Hair Lab, a gender-free hair salon that prioritizes environmental stability as well as body positivity and self-love.
“I think the salon culture a lot of times can be super intimidating to people who are transitioning or even who identify as gender nonbinary,” Engstrom said. “When I opened my salon, I wanted to make sure it was something [where] people felt safe and comfortable. I felt like doing an event for Trans Day of Visibility was pretty hand in hand with that.”
Through this event, Engstrom, who identifies as pansexual, wants to provide the trans and nonbinary public with a safe space where they feel supported. “We’re just here to celebrate and have some fun,” she said.
People from a variety of professional backgrounds will be attending the event, including a legal professional, skincare specialist, wardrobe stylist, yoga instructor and of course, a hairstylist. Nancy Sokol, an employee relations consultant with a background in human relations law, will be at the event to talk about legal issues that may arise during the transition process.
“I tried to look for broad resources of things that come up as people transition — maybe if they’re changing their name at work, asking for different pronouns.” Engstrom said. “I thought [Nancy] would be a great resource because a lot of times in some of the queer groups on Facebook and other public forums, I’ve seen a lot of people requesting advice for that.”
Tia Pinizotto, lead esthetician at Heydey in Rittenhouse Square, will also be there to answer questions people may have about skincare in conjunction with transitioning.
“I have somebody that I work with at Heyday right now, she has really talked to me about how the community feels scared to come forward and ask questions,” Pinizotto said. “Especially when our bodies are changing, our skin changes, and there’s a lot that can already feel a bit [scary] to talk about. In my profession, it’s important that people understand what’s happening with their skin and why it’s happening in ways to help them get more confidence through that.”
Engstrom has been working in the hair industry for 14 years. After spending time working for high-end studios in Rittenhouse Square, she decided to open her own studio in Fishtown in the fall of 2018.
“It felt very inauthentic to myself, and the point where some of my clients felt like they had to dress up to come see me or were intimidated,” she said. “I wanted to open something up that’s more in my community.”
She makes a point to ensure her clients feel comfortable, that they can bring their crying baby or their dog to their hair appointment if need be.
“A lot of times it’s just me and one client and a time, so we have this really great, intimate personal space just to catch up and connect,” Engstrom said.
Alchemy Hair Labs is located at 2401 E. Letterly Street in Philadelphia. Guests of Trans Visibility Day can enjoy snacks and beverages in addition to conversation. During a future event, Engstrom will offer complimentary haircuts to transgender attendees.
“I’m glad we can have people from different parts of the industry come together and answer questions and guide people to make them feel more confident,” Pinizotto said.
To Schedule an appointment, email Engstrom at [email protected]