Pride Profile: The Kismet Co. Salon

Lisa Clarno is the owner of The Kismet Co. Salon in Ballard. She is committed to creating a safe space for everyone by offering non-gendered pricing and outdoor styling services. We recently caught up with Lisa to learn a little more about herself and her salon.


Can you tell us a bit about you and your business?

I am a stylist, and I am the owner of The Kismet Co. Salon. I’ve been a stylist for 17 years, but I have really shifted things over the past three years or so. Prior to the pandemic, I was operating in a small space in Ballard. I had invested a lot of my savings into the space and then the pandemic shut me down. One day I went out to the back parking lot of the building and, honestly, had a little bit of a breakdown! I was crying and freaking out in the parking lot and had the thought “why can’t I do hair out here?” So, two years ago, I opened the first outdoor hair salon in Washington. Eventually, that was shut down, so I had to rethink my situation and I started going mobile. I visited over 160 backyards and patios in Ballard alone. I know it sounds crazy, but I just found a way to do it because it wasn’t fair that a lot of people were going through severe mental health issues, and really, truly, something as simple as a haircut or color can help pull people out of that.

On the topic of safe spaces, you utilize a non-gendered approach to pricing. Can you talk about what that means?

When I went to beauty school 17 years ago, I was taught men’s cuts vs. women’s cuts. We had a male mannequin head with short hair and a female mannequin head with long hair, and so I assume that the charge division started with that length assumption. It’s just been the norm for a long time.

A few years ago, right before the pandemic, I had a client who was in the process of transitioning. We started going over costs and they were all broken down into gendered haircuts. It was in that moment that I realized how unfair and full of assumptions that was. Really, gender just shouldn’t have anything to do with it! Charges should be based on how long it takes a stylist to do your hair. Now, instead, we determine our charges by length and not gender. Short is mid-neck and above, and long is mid-neck and below. It’s as simple as that. Nowadays, there are also so many different options for color, but we just have it lined out so there is an hourly cost, and we do consultations for every client so we can gauge the time that we need for that service before we start.

How does this approach help create a safe and welcoming space for everyone?

It is simplifying the situation, not overcomplicating things, or placing assumptions. I feel like salons that are still basing prices on gender may be unintentionally causing pain. We want to create a space where everyone who enters our salon doesn’t have to feel nervous, they can feel safe. When a person is in my chair, you can see in their eyes when they feel valued and when they feel safe to truly be themselves rather than putting on some kind of front. Over the past four or five years, I have had a lot of clients come in who were in the process of transitioning, most often male to female. It was so upsetting to hear that they didn’t feel safe in larger salons because they were afraid to ask basic questions about things like blow-drying or styling longer hair. A lot of my trans clients have told me about buying wigs online to avoid embarrassment. It’s so important to me that the transgender community has a safe and welcoming environment.

Part of me feels guilty that I didn’t do it sooner. I just went along with so many things because that’s just the way it was. We should all be doing the same thing in any profession. It’s just time.

Where can people find you?

You can find The Kismet Co. Salon on 17th Ave NW in Ballard or you can visit www.thekismetcosalon.com. We have also now opened our permanent outdoor hair salon, just this month. There is a private patio entrance out back, and I’m hoping this can help provide a comfortable, safe space for people who haven’t had a haircut in almost three years.