78 Photo Essay: Allison Chambless

Words by Ingrid Hogue | Image by Blakeney Clouse

Studio 64 is a tiny gray house. The front door opens to a sunlit space with wood floors, the smell of coffee, and the sound of country music dancing in from the rooms to the left. A lady basks under a color-processing lamp, the coffee pot trickling nearthe opposite wall. 

Off the hall to the right, a lady has her eyes closed and head back as warm water rains down her scalp. Allison Butts Chambless stands next to another lady perched in a black leather chair, her hair sectioned between five enormous clips. Allison has discerned her wishes; she’s noticed the silver roots that line her rusty brown locks, and she’s observed the shape of her face and her skin tone.

She slips into the back, squeezing a clay-colored substance from tubes into a bowl on a scale. She returns, striking up a conversation as she divides locks of her hair with the pointed end of a paintbrush, then flips the paintbrush around and touches up the roots.

Allison had always loved getting prettied up, from doing makeup for prom to eradicating acne. This passion was put to the test when she enrolled in Skinactics School of Aesthetics in Birmingham. She immediately applied her newfound knowledge on real bodies and faces in 30 hours of studio time per week. 

This passion found a new outlet when she started working at Harper’s Salon in Mountain Brook Village with Cherie Greenburg. As Allison witnessed Cherie’s skill and passion for cutting and coloring, she couldn’t shut down the nagging wish to do the same. “I prayed and prayed and prayed,” she says. Allison tucked aside her job and degree in aesthetics and enrolled in Jasper Beauty Academy. 

In 2015, Allison was one of four independent beauticians in the salon in a tiny gray house. One of the ladies left the salon industry, leaving an empty room and a gaping opportunity.“ I could have lollygagged through life and never opened my business,” she says, “but my Dad was like, ‘What are you waiting for?’” 

Allison shook hands with the crazy idea of owning her own business and named it Studio 64. 78



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