Hybrid Hair + Tattoo Salon Hosts LGBTQ Community Events this Summer

Meet “Mae Salon” Owner Aja Ottero

Hi Aja!  Can you tell us  your story leading up to opening “Mae Salon”  and what makes your salon stand out?

Hello! My name is Aja Ottero and I am the Owner of Mae Salon + Wellness, in Denver, CO!  In addition to having some of Denver’s most Nurturing and attentive hair stylists with a wide range of specialties. In addition to our amazing salon team we also host home for an IV hydration nurse, Lash and Brow Artist and a Hand Poked Tattoo artist.

We are also a community + wellness hub! We typically also host 1-4 events a month, anything from yoga, mediations, sound baths to artisan markets, clothing pop up shops, permanent jewelry, intimate concerts and so much more! We aim to partner with other small businesses/offerings to cross promote within the community.

The reason behind this is; the beauty industry is heavily saturated and in this day and age we collectively talk about “self care” way more than we used to – however as women or feminine expressing bodies most “Self care” is service or retail based that is rooted in vanity. “If you look good you’ll feel good” and while that does tend to reign true. I wanted to bring in more community centered opportunities to connect and belong and look at beauty from within and start to shift the mindset to “When you feel good, you look good” beauty starts from within and we need more spaces to connect to that.

As a Lesbian, Woman owned business it was also very important to me to create a safe space for the queer community to be nurtured and welcomed! No matter what point in your journey of sexuality and gender expression were here to guide, support and teach. Helping folx achieve the looks that allow them to feel most at home in their expression.

I joined the industry in 2010, lived and did hair in South Korea in 2014, Taught at the Aveda institute for several years in 2016 and In 2017 I opened a salon suite called Chemistry Hair Lab, in 2020 moved into my first “Real” salon which had 3 chairs in downtown Englewood. Signed a lease in my “Big” salon and started construction in May 2023 and We opened July 2023 – we also rebranded at this point.

What are some of your specialties at the salon?

What are all the Services you Offer?

Our salon has a variety of specialists! Our main focus is one of a kind customized hair colors, extensions and hair and scalp health. Our goal is to have a specialty for everyone!

We have curl specialists, blonde and “bronde” specialists, mullets and fashion colors, and several extension specialists.  

So grateful for our amazing team! 

Hannah- our tattoo artist does Hand poked tattoos, this is a machineless method which tends to be less painful and more rhythmic and almost therapeutic. Hannah also does Tooth gems !

Nikki- Our IV nurse, offers a multitude of customizable hydration services as well as vitamin wellness shots and medical weight loss assistance.

Kaitlin- Our Lash and Brow artists, offers a wide variety of lash enhancements, as well as brown shaping, tinning and lamination.

We love the idea of a Salon that offers Tattoos!

Can you describe the style of “Hand Poked” Tattoos?

These tattoos are a bit old-fashioned and created by manually pricking the skin with a single needle. Without the use of machines, the process is generally slower but also less intense than a machine tends to be. Hand poke tattoos have a rich and diverse history spanning across many different cultures and civilizations. This method has been recorded as far as 2000bc on Egyptian mummies!

How did you decide to incorporate Tattoos into your business? 

I met Hannah while working at a local brewery and was super impressed with her work! I encouraged her to come check out one of our brand new suites and consider joining our team. Hannah is passionate about bringing comfortable tattoo experiences back to the community. Where consultations feel intentional and impactful and you get time to decide exactly where you want that tattoo to be placed with no pressure, and your tattoo appointment feels peaceful and therapeutic.   

What Events do you have coming up?

  • Yes! Our next event is June 21st! We will be teaming up with Wckd Collective (A slow fashion pop up shop) to throw our first Annual PRIDE patio kick off party! We will have a braid and glitter bar, a DJ, shopping, drinks, food, IVS, tattoos and so much more! 

  • We also have our Second Sunday morning yoga. Every second Sunday at 10am. 

  • Details coming soon about our first year anniversary party! We have an events page on our website as well as current events frequenting our social media pages. Stay in touch – we’d love to see you out at an event! 

Are you from Colorado? Which neighborhood did you choose for your Salon?

I am a Colorado Native! Born and Raised in the low income side of north boulder In the early 90s. Moved to Denver once I started beauty school. I have always lived right around the DU neighborhood and really loved that area of town.

We stumbled across our new location at 2425 S. Broadway and couldn’t resist a beautiful South Broadway store front with lots and lots of natural light! (and parking!) We had thought about adding a second location in the Highlands but this space was too good to pass up! (maybe we’ll come back for you someday highlands 😉 )

What challenges have you faced along your journey? 

I think most small business owners can agree that too quiet of a building or team means something is headed down the pipeline…haha!

No, the biggest thing I feel that I meet regularly is the hiccups and the unknowns with doing something new and outside of the box that isn’t being done. Not only in our business structure, but also our team culture and systems. So paving the path with the experience and knowledge I have gained along the way while creating something new and incredible without a paved road to follow.

We are a combination of everyone we’ve ever met along the way in our lifetime. Grateful for lived and shared experiences guiding me to this point! 

And of course my team for trusting me and our salon to guide them with this time period of their lives and careers! 

What do you love about the design of your space?

Design has admittedly always been the first thing ever done in our spaces. -our bathroom’s neon signs were the first items I ordered for this space..

I have a side passion for interior design and truly believe a well curated space can bring so much joy, peace and calm from the moment you step in, and that is our golden feedback from most of our guests – “nothing can describe the way it feels when you walk through the doors”

I was aiming for a “Millennial Chic, Eclectic Resort in Bali” type of vibe, if you will. Bright, Beautiful and calming but with some fun design aspects to keep our clients intrigued and inspired!

My dream for this space was also to lean heavily into our post covid “Work from home” culture and create a really loungey, cozy space for clients while they are waiting to start an appointment, processing or heck even if they have no appointment at all. Our client area features a 14 foot work bar for those who are crushing some work while they visit or just looking for a different energy and environment for their work that day. We have a fully stocked drink, snack and espresso bar for our clients whether they have an appointment or not. All are welcome to come soak up the good vibes and hang in our lounge.

The wellness rooms were very open and “unknown” when construction was happening. I dreamt of anything from tattoos, massages, acupuncture, therapist, lashes, to breathwork and meditation. I was very open, but ultimately trusted that the universe would bring the perfect people and businesses to complete our space. 

How would you describe the personality or “Vibe” of Denver?

As a native, I think the vibe in Denver is ever growing and evolving in the coolest of ways! We have really become a melting pot of folks from all over but I think it will always reign true that Denver loves a health, fitness, wellness and outdoor vibe! With a good side of local music, art and craft beer!

Website + Social Media for “Mae Salon”?

www.maesalon.com

 @maesalondenver

We are just stoked to be here and connect with our community no matter what walk of life that looks like.

We cant wait to see you all and nourish your souls! <3 XOXO – Mae Salon 

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