So much has been written and sung about holding on to one’s dreams that stories tend to lose their meaning. But there’s often a lot of truth in those whimsical words and lyrics.
In Brentwood, Melissa Schleicher personifies that message. The owner of Parlour3 salon and Barbour3 has fashioned herself as a stylist from the time she could hold a pair of scissors.
“I’ve always wanted to do hair, ever since I was a little girl,” says Schleicher. “I cut the hair of every Barbie doll I had. I started cutting hair for kids in the neighborhood when I was 10 years old. Then my mom would get mannequins from a beauty school and I practiced on those.”
By her own admission, Schleicher was not a stellar student at Nashville’s Overton High School. But it was not due to a lack of passion for knowledge or learning. Quite the opposite. Her childhood dream to make it big as a stylist never wavered and evolved to the point that she attended beauty school to become a hair and makeup artist.
While her career path was unconventional, no one can argue with where it led. She’s had steady work for more than 20 years. Her salon and barbershop in the heart of Brentwood are destinations unto themselves. And she has developed a niche as hair and makeup stylist for some of Nashville’s most recognizable celebrities.
While working as a salon assistant many years ago, she was asked to work with some musician clients. As she does with anyone and everyone, Schleicher became their friend, “and one thing led to another,” she says.
Alan Jackson has been her client for 18 years. Lee Ann Womack followed shortly thereafter, as did Rascal Flatts and Jason Aldean. And more than a decade ago she connected with an up-and-coming artist named Carrie Underwood who was bound for international stardom.
While most people would be content with that type of career and clientele, Schleicher never stops thinking ahead. “I’m a freelancer and work can be hit-or-miss,” she said recently while working on tour with Underwood. “You can work every day for two months, then be off for a month. So my wheels are always turning.”
That relentless motivation is how Parlour3 came to be. And when it was time for her dream to become reality, she turned to her Brentwood roots for a location.
“Brentwood really didn’t have anything and I have a lot of clients who live between here and Franklin,” she says. “I knew hairstylists everywhere and knew that they were interested in my idea of a salon that is high-end and glamorous. Something that’s fresh and new.”
When her realtor showed her vacant space in an old building on Franklin Road just north of Church Street, Schleicher knew Parlour3 had a home.
“I told my realtor my vision and he said he would give me a good deal if I would make the space look good,” says Schleicher. “So I drew it up on a piece of paper, went to my architect and said, ‘this is what I want.’”
While the salon turned out just as she imagined, with luxurious sofas and fine furnishings, she admits to being nervous when the doors opened on December 27, 2011.
“I didn’t know if anyone would show up,” she says. “But on the first day, the salon was packed. I thought, ‘Wow, this is cool! It’s really happening here. And we’re going to need more people!’”
It’s not a cliché to say that Parlour3 clients get the star treatment and it begins the moment they step inside.
“We hire the most amazing people and it starts with the front desk staff,” says Schleicher. “I have stylists who are specialists. Some only do haircuts. Some only do hair color. And we want clients to try different stylists. We want them to experience others, to try out everybody. And since I work with artists I have all these connections with makeup lines so I have access to all kinds of great products that you can’t find anywhere else in town.”
Schleicher understands that the glamorous approach is only as good as the service. And she takes pride in the fact that celebrities and those who are not in the limelight enjoy coming into the salon, “just to hang out.
“We give makeup lessons and we want clients to talk to a color consultant before we do anything,” she says. “First consultations are so important. To me it’s always interesting to see how someone who used to not style their hair, changes over the years.
“That’s why I opened Parlour3. I’ve done women with cancer or who have gone through a divorce. If I’m not on the road, I’m in the salon. When I put makeup on a lady and show her how beautiful she can look, it’s the best feeling ever. That’s the thrill. That’s why I do it. Everybody deserves to feel great about themselves.”