Gilbert mom Sarah Wallace

Gilbert mom Sarah Wallace chose Ahwatukee for her salon for kids, Pigtails and Crewcuts: Haircuts for Kids, because she saw an unserved market for the type of services she offers.

Pigtails & Crewcuts: Haircuts for Kids opened its doors June 11 with a rousing reception from family and friends.

The bright and colorful salon at 4810 E. Ray Road, designed especially to appeal to children, is the first Pigtails & Crewcuts franchise opened in Arizona, though another is planned in north Phoenix.

Owned and operated by single mother Sarah Wallace, the choice of the franchise itself and the location of the new salon were both results of serious and time-consuming research.

“My personal mantra is ‘Do what is right, not what is easy,’ she explained. “I did a lot of research to find a business that fit into that mindset and frankly rejected many businesses on the grounds of there not being a good ethical fit.”

Wallace, a mother of four children ages 9 to 16, said, “Both the Pigtails & Crewcuts franchise and their CEO Wade Brannon truly believe in the values they espouse – honesty, fairness, and integrity – and those resonated with me. They’ve also been a great source of support so far.”

A Gilbert resident of 12 years, Wallace said she scoured the East Valley looking for just the right place. 

“Ahwatukee didn’t really have any children’s haircutting salons; there used to be one but it closed, so there’s a lot of demand,” she explained. “That’s the niche we want to fill.” 

Opening her dream business during COVID-19 was a scary proposition, but in early May when Gov. Doug Ducey lifted the shutdown of salons and barbershops, Wallace breathed a sigh of relief. 

As the single parent of three boys and a girl, Wallace is cognizant of the need for social distancing in her salon as well as following all CDC guidelines for sanitation protocols. She said she wants parents and their children to feel total comfort in her Pigtails & Crewcuts salon.

“We’re limiting the number of people in the salon and we’re using only three salon chairs to ensure proper distancing,” she said. 

Appointments are encouraged, though if the salon isn’t busy, Wallace said they may take an occasional walk-in. The waiting area is no longer available; clients are asked to wait in their cars until they’re called in by their stylist.

Playful masks that read ‘I am smiling!’ are worn by Wallace and her one stylist, hands are washed between each haircut, and all stations, chairs and surfaces are sanitized regularly.

An unfortunate loss due to pandemic restraints are the salon’s sharable toys, and even the franchise’s traditional train table.

“We’re wanting to be on the safe side, and we look forward to bringing them all back when we’re given the go-ahead,” said Wallace. 

There’s plenty to entertain the kids merely by being at Pigtails & Crewcuts.  

The salon’s walls – which were transformed from everyday white to cheery chartreuse and three other eye-popping colors – bring an immediate smile.

The children’s salon chairs are child-size cars of various makes and colors and, leading the line-up, the franchise’s iconic red and black train engine. 

For older children or adults, there are the more traditional salon chairs.

At this writing, Wallace has only one stylist available, and that, too, is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn.

“It’s been really hard getting stylists, and I’m hearing that from so many owners all over the country.  People are either scared to come back or they’re making too much money on unemployment. I worked at an ASU research lab after graduation, and I was making less there than people are making now on unemployment,” said Wallace, who continues to advertise for stylists.

“But it will pick up,” she stated optimistically. “And the one stylist I do have, Jenna McCaleb, is the best. 

“She’s worked for Pigtails & Crewcuts in Kansas and Texas, and when she moved to Arizona last year, she started looking for kids’ salons because she likes working with children. She heard through our franchise we were opening, and she waited patiently for us to open our doors.”

Wallace is a 2017 graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She will graduate from West Texas A&M in December with her master’s in business administration.

 As a mother, she understood the need for services that cater to children. Doing her due diligence, she met with a mentor from SCORE, and a private business consultant in her quest to find the perfect match for her and her family.

That research led her to Pigtails & Crewcuts.  

“I loved Pigtails & Crewcuts because the franchise was affordable and I love working with kids, so it’s a comfortable fit for me,” she said. “And with lots of families with children in Ahwatukee, I knew it would be a perfect place for this business to thrive.”

Pigtails & Crewcuts, billed as a stress-free haircutting experience for the whole family, offers other services, including a First Haircut package that includes a lock of hair and a photo; ear piercing, braiding, detangling, hair glitter and hair scents and even nail polish. 

Salon products include the hair care products, Rosemary Repel to prevent head lice; brushes, toys and gifts, headbands, bows, hair clips and more. 

Even with her start during COVID-19, Wallace cheerfully recounts her belief that this was the perfect answer to her search for a future for her and her family. 

“I was looking for a business where I could end every day knowing that I did my best to be able to do something good for someone each day, and seeing the parents and kids smiling faces when they see their reflections in the mirror after their haircuts fits that bill nicely,” she said. 

“I love this business and I’m hoping we can form meaningful connections in the community for years to come.”

Ahwatukee’s Pigtails & Crewcuts is located at 4810 E. Ray Road in the Foothills Park Place Shopping Center and directly across 48th Street from Target.

Hours are Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. They’re currently closed Monday and Tuesday but will be expanding hours to be open Monday as more stylists are hired. 

Information: Pigtailsandcrewcuts.com/Ahwatukee or 480-561-8760. 

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