Melissa Castleman is first a mom.
“My daughter is 17 and my son is 4,” she said. “Actually I have three children, if you count my husband.” Ian Castleman is a career Navy guy stationed at Everett. She loves her family and dotes on them.
Melissa, 37, also owns a beauty salon on Broadway in Everett. She is a third-generation stylist and a hair-color scientist. Many of her customers are women of a certain age.
Are you drawing a picture of Melissa in your head? Erase it and start over.
Melissa rides her bike to work because she wouldn’t think of adding to air pollution unnecessarily.
Depending on her latest whim, Melissa’s hair is pink, red, blue or some other color on the wheel. She sports a nose ring, has been a roller derby player, named her salon Eclectik and cleans the air in her shop with a wall of plants. And she loves Everett.
Eclectik has become a hub of sorts for the North Broadway neighborhood. People stop by just to say hi. They hang out. Melissa enjoys this vibe. As her tattooed left forearm testifies: “Ohana,” referring to her love of extended family and her mission that “nobody gets left behind.”
On a recent day, retired nurse Susi Borovina of the Everett fishing family brought with her a frozen salmon filet for Melissa’s husband.
Susi tells the story about visiting Melissa’s salon for the first time for a haircut and wondering if Melissa would become her regular stylist.
“I got the scalp massage and that was the slam dunk,” Susi said. “Melissa is generous and giving, she has such a big heart for veterans and people who are down and out. Plus she is fabulous with hair and I like her style.”
Indeed, Melissa calls hair her “canvas.” The salon, decorated with beautiful kimonos and screens collected when her husband served in Japan, is bright and fashionably shabby chic. Melissa dresses the part of an artist, with big glasses, cute jeans and a mod apron.
And she admits that she likes to give of her talents. During certain events and times of the year Melissa cuts hair free for veterans, teachers and women trying to get back into the job market. She does house calls for frazzled brides and has saved numerous prom-going girls from disaster. She donates regularly to AIDS Project Snohomish County.
Sandy Chimenti comes into the shop with her granddaughter Zoey, who needs her bangs trimmed. They sit in an empty salon chair and chat with Melissa and Susi. After awhile Susi and Sandy realize they know each other because nurse Susi vaccinated Sandy’s son Jake back in the 1980s.
Melissa gets into this connection, delighting in the small world that revolves around her shop.
Not wanting to leave Sandy’s granddaughter out of the conversation, she said, “Do you remember where the toys are, Miss Zoey? Go get ‘em.”
Zoey’s dad Jake is next into the shop, carrying a wallet he found on the sidewalk.
“Take it to the pot shop a few doors down. They’ll know who it belongs to,” Melissa said. While they wait for Jake to return, a woman in a wheelchair zooms by the front window.
“There’s Grace,” Melissa said, just as another wheelchair zips past. “And her boyfriend.”
Richard, a homeless guy from the neighborhood, stops by on a regular basis. Melissa serves him his favorite flavor (mint) of instant hot chocolate and gives him $5 to sweep the sidewalk.
Melissa grew up in this sort of atmosphere in Montana, where her mother ran Dorothy’s Best Little Hair House in Helena.
“We really do have a community along North Broadway,” Melissa said. “We business owners look out for each other and we invest in our neighborhood. This summer I want to throw a block party. With a tiara and a cape, I could conquer the world.”
Kristen Keenan, who lives in the neighborhood east of Broadway, supports the block party idea. Keenan is the owner of Vertical Gardens Northwest (and made the wall of plants in Melissa’s salon). She stops by occasionally to water the wall and chat with Melissa.
It’s getting on to 1 p.m. by now and Corky Montgomery has shown up for her new hairdo — a punk cut sporting white roots topped with shades of hot pink and burgundy. This is a project she and Melissa have been planning for awhile.
“I am so lucky that people will let me do this sort of thing to them,” Melissa said with a grin.
And just when it seems it can’t get any busier, in pops Melissa’s Tyrolean mother-in-law, Elisabetta Giacon, visiting from northern Italy.
Elisabetta has a food blog, Culinary Roots & Recipes, and Melissa wonders aloud if she will write about the ranch dressing at Brooklyn Bros. pizza in downtown Everett. More likely, though, Elisabetta will write about the Seattle’s Pike Place Market and include her son’s recipe for honey spiced salmon grilled on cedar planks.
Speaking of Ian, Melissa’s handsome uniformed husband walks through the back door with a bouquet for his wife.
“I’ll keep him,” Melissa said.
He hands her the flowers and she hands him the salmon from the Borovina family, which he ogles with great delight.
A few customers leave, a couple more arrive. It starts to rain, and Melissa moans about another wet bike ride.
And then she laughs.