Life & Style

Muster Point

Unique hair salon experience coupled together with food.

A meeting place and safe space to bring people together. And it's toastie heaven!

Mayfield artist and the all-round stylish duo, Kristy and Tanille Elley, have weaved their reno magic again. 53 Maitland Rd will never be the same again with Muster Point moving in. It’s a new concept and one, I’ll admit, that was a little confusing to begin with but, WOW, it’s amazing! To explain all in their own words we did a little Q&A with Kristy & Tanille. 

So what’s The Cutting Division?
It’s a hair salon, but one that houses a collective of independent hair stylists and barbers. Unlike a traditional salon, those behind the scissors work for themselves, running their own businesses within our space. We're huge believers in the power of the collective, and have seen in so many instances, across many industries, the impact of like-minded people working together, challenging and inspiring each other. We really wanted to explore the concept and support people to achieve more together than they would solo.

The 'rent-a-chair' structure allows us to muster and support talented and driven stylists by providing them with a platform to launch their own businesses, without them needing to invest in a huge salon fit-out or sign a long lease.

So who have you got welding the scissors?

We have limited spaces available, and have so far assembled a dynamic group of stylists. We have @hairbymisssophie, an a absolute kickass colourist with mind blowing creations using vivid colouring, @tiffanyjane_barber, the resident fade queen who brings to us clipper skills honed from her time in Fitzroy, and @whipblowhair with the delightful Kelly, who is the sweetest soul you'll ever meet and has 15 years industry experience after training with David Stewart. We can't wait to see their successes!

We have room for only two more hair stylists, with an exciting addition expected in the next few weeks (keep an eye on our social media pages!).

The Cutting Division isn't your typical salon, is it?
No, it really isn't. The combination of design elements is unique and we’ve worked hard to make sure the space is impressive from every angle. We've included original artwork, we make sure cool tunes are playing, and we've carefully selected the best mags and books to enjoy. Then there’s the access to The Feeder…not many salons can claim that!

Another unique feature is the one on one experience clients are treated to. It’s rare these days to have your stylist look after you from start to finish - that kind of personal service is standard at The Cutting Division.

And what’s The Feeder?
It’s a food truck (@the_feeder_foodtruck) that we're lucky enough to have parked up in our courtyard from Wednesday to Saturday. Mrs E. runs that show, and she's been known as a feeder for more than 30 years, with her family having the best lunches packed for them every day, and quite the queue of her daughter's friends wanting to move in and be treated to the home cooked meals every night and delicious breaky waiting on the table every morning. It was time for Mrs E. to start feeding the masses, so The Feeder was born.

Being Mayfield locals, we knew there was room for something new. Mayfield is fast becoming Newcastle's most progressive suburb. We knew there wasn't a need for 'another coffee shop' (the locals were very keen to tell us this throughout the reno!), so we went in a completely different direction. It's quirky, cute, and offers a space where you can wander in with your pram, you pup, or the paper and enjoy some of the best from the food truck window.

Then what’s Muster Point?
Muster Point is the name of the building - we hope this doesn't confuse everyone! We came up with the name to acknowledge the history of Mayfield, with the original focus of the suburb being heavy industry, particularly back in the BHP era. We also love the meaning behind a 'muster point'...a meeting place and a safe space, and 'muster'' meaning to bring together. Muster Point (@musterpointcollective) is also the overarching brand that The Cutting Division and The Feeder sit under.

Did you initially set out to bring a Hair and Food experience together?
I'm not sure that we initially planned to bring hair and food together...we instead saw the two businesses as operating mostly exclusive of one another. As the concept unravelled, we saw that the food truck could also be part of the collective. We started to look at our own salon experiences, identifying the extras we'd love to have at our fingertips while getting our hair done. I think it was at that point we realised the truck would play a big part in the salon, adding to the experience of the clients… and the stylists!

The courtyard is a fantastic space, can anyone drop in to The Feeder or do you have to be having a cut?
The Feeder is for everyone! It has access directly from Maitland Road, so you don't even need to go through the salon to get to it.

What kind of food can we expect from The Feeder?
The Feeder is fast becoming famous for toasties, or 'grilled cheese'. With gourmet fillings from Pork Ewe Deli just down the road, and the best bread you can find from the local farmer's market, it's no wonder the menu was tweaked in the first fortnight to add more toastie combos. The 'Sloppy Joe', with meatballs, chunky tomato sauce, American mustard and cheese is probably the signature, but we can only vouch for the vego option, which is delicious.

There's heaps more than toasties on the menu though, with old school milkshakes (yes, milo!!), new school smoothies (best green smoothie ever), brunch specials (last weekend it was vegan crumpets with coconut yoghurt, berry compote, and toasted almonds), and chef made soup from Hunter Valley Pasta Co.

As an added bonus, The Feeder has a range of 'dinner made easy' options from Hunter Valley Pasta Co. You can grab a lasagne (vego available) or soup to take home and heat for dinner.

The space has been completely transformed can you tell us a little bit about the reno?
We approached the reno as if we were building our dream home. Ideally we'd love to live in a warehouse conversion, so this is as close we could come to creating that (at this point)! It took us 6 months to secure the purchase of the building, and we spent much of that time feeling quite anxious, but carefully planning each stage of the transformation and sourcing images to determine a flavour. We ended up with way too many ideas, and hundreds of images, so when the tradies were about to start we had to pull out our 'must have' ideas, and narrow them down to those that would work well together. 

You don't do things by halves do you?
No way….so often we torture ourselves with our high expectations. 'Standard' was never going to be an option, but as well as style, functionality was so important to us. As non-hair stylists ourselves, we had to pay extra attention to create a space that would impress clients, but feel amazing to work in as well. This meant huge hours on site and often having things custom made. Apart from the cutting and basin chairs, we found we had to design our other fixtures and have them made for us.

We are very fortunate to have had a truly beautiful building to start with, with amazing curved art deco windows, crazy high ceilings, and double cavity brick that allowed us a lot of play. We also knew we'd be working with Kristy's signature 'limited palette', so would only be needing to buy black and white paint (though lots of it!). We were quick to rid the building of all 'mission brown'...the black paint was out in full force on both levels of the building, inside and out.

What is the highlight of the reno in your opinion?
The main feature of our space (if we had to choose one!) is the huge industrial roller door that opens up the salon but also connects the inside to the courtyard. The door proved quite the challenge to install into what was originally a double cavity brick wall, and was engineered throughout to make sure we didn't have our upstairs inhabitants land on the salon floor. 

We worked with incredible tradies throughout, who soon realised we wanted to push the boundaries and test their ability to think outside the square. Kristy remained on site every day of the build, long after my three week stint, to make sure the tradies kept to our flavour. She has such an eye for detail, and her creative thinking can be seen in every inch of the space. The result is exactly what we hoped for....raw, spacious, edgy, industrial....but softened by @helloholt styling.

Has this been something that you’ve both always wanted to do?
I don't think either of us saw ourselves as owners of a hair salon! But it was an opportunity that presented itself, and we absolutely took it with both hands. We were watching trends overseas with ‘rent-a-chair’ or ‘booth rental’ salons, which fitted well with our interest in collectives of like-minded people. We've both played with residential property in the past, and Kristy also had experience in commercial investment, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine our experience, but try something new at the same time.

This is a massive building, the upstairs space is yours as well, do you have some big plans in place?
We sure do! Keep an eye out! So many ideas.