Dodgy fringe trims, shaved heads and out-of-control locks – it’s safe to say that people all over London have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of hair salons on April 12, after months of them being closed.
But finally getting a new ‘do isn’t the only thing to get excited about – the next stage of lockdown restrictions easing also includes non-essential shops, meaning you can finally peruse all your favourite independent stores, which will make a nice change from just doing your weekly supermarket shop, right?
Nail salons are also reopening, so if you’ve been desperately waiting for a new set of gels or a colourful manicure, now’s your chance.
Now that things are reopening, we’ve rounded up our pick of 12 of London’s best independent shops and salons that we can’t wait to visit.
Despite the name, this cute nail salon actually has two branches – one in Shoreditch and one in Dalston, which gives you double the chance to nab an appointment to get your nails done. The salon prides itself on being as green as possible, offering vegan and cruelty-free nail polish, skincare and wax, as well as natural and organic scrubs, balms and oil. Treatments range from a simple polish to a mani and pedi ‘full works’.
If lockdown has left you hankering for more plants in your home, or you’re looking for a way to liven up your working from home desk setup, look no further than Hackney plant shop Prick. Dedicated to cacti and succulents, you’ll find all kinds of varieties here, as well as lots of gorgeous pots to put your new greenery in. The shop even does its own line of ‘Prick pots’.
If your idea of fun is wandering around a cosy bookshop with no distractions, you’ll love Libreria in Spitalfields. The walls are lined with yellow shelves, packed with a huge selection of books. Best of all, it’s a technology-free space, so you can leave your phone in your bag and concentrate on finding your perfect read.
If you’ve taken up letter writing as an antidote to communicating via video call in the last year, you’ll want to make a beeline for Choosing Keeping. At this West End stationery shop, you’ll find everything you need to send beautiful letters to your loved ones, including fountain pens, fancy stationery and even old-school wax seals. It’s also a brilliant spot to pick up cards, wrapping paper and gifts.
Feel like your brows are out of control? We feel you. A visit to Bambrows on Hackney’s Broadway Market should solve all your woes. This salon specialises in brows (obviously) and lashes, with treatments including the ‘virgin brow wax’ for newbies, the ‘full works’ (including tint and reshape), as well as lash lifts. They promise you’ll leave feeling ‘like the best version of yourself’.
Chances are, you’ve spent a lot of time in your kitchen over the last year. If your knives could do with an upgrade or you’ve accidentally smashed all your favourite mugs, you’ll find an excellent selection of wares at the effortlessly stylish Labour and Wait. It’s not just kitchen stuff, either. Look out for fancy soap and apothecary jars for your bathroom, tools and toolboxes for all that DIY you never got round to doing and lots of handy gardening equipment (pruning knife, anyone?).
This east London salon prides itself on putting sustainability first – whether that’s the towels in the salon or the products used, which are all cruelty-free, natural and vegan. Co-founder Shelley is from Iceland and you’ll find her roots coming through in the treatment list – try the Icelandic luxury soak and massage, which uses pure Icelandic sea salts and exfoliating scrub infused with Icelandic moss, Arctic thyme and Nordic birch.
Go for a stroll along Exmouth Market and you’ll find it hard to walk past Botanique Workshop. Here you’ll find beautiful flowers (fresh and dried) and plants, but that’s not all. It’s a one-stop shop for all your gift needs, selling cards, candles and jewellery made by the shop’s house jeweller, who uses dried flowers to leave an imprint on handmade bronze pendants, creating a totally unique necklace.
Set up by Anita Rice and Stephen Buller (hence the name), this salon is all about great hair that doesn’t cost the earth, with a focus on sustainable products that don’t compromise on quality. It has branches in Stoke Newington and Walthamstow and offers services including blow dry, cut, colour and bespoke services. Good news for animal fans, too – it’s dog-friendly, but the blow dries are just for humans, okay?
Stroud Green Road is full of independent shops, but you won’t want to miss this iconic book shop in Finsbury Park. Founded in 1966, New Beacon Books was the UK’s first black publisher and specialist bookshop. It was saved by a crowdfunding campaign in 2017 and continues to champion black authors and literature. (Reopens on April 16)
As the name suggests, the site of this antique shop was once a local picture house in the early 1900s. These days, the 10,000 square foot space is packed with antique furniture and vintage goodies. You’ll find everything from mid-century sideboards to vintage glass chandeliers – ideal if all that time spent at home has left you wanting to change up your interiors.
Fast fashion has no place at this Brixton gem. Founder Kate Richards opened this ethically-focused shop in 2013, after she was left feeling uninspired by the high street. The shop sells everything from jumpsuits to jewellery – and you can expect a focus on sustainable fabrics and beautiful pieces that are designed to last.