The Austin fashion scene has certainly seen an abundance of growth through the years with boutiques, new designer labels and stylish salons popping up around town. And since you can’t have a great outfit without a great hairstyle to match there’s one salon that has put roots down in town for more than 13 years to make sure you are fashion ready.
If you have been around Austin during the pre-fashion boom, you probably are family with an eclectic salon located in 26 Doors, Urban Betty. This busy salon owned by Chelle Neff has grown into a business that surprises her but doesn’t really surprise anyone who knows this go-getter.
Betty “Chelle” Neff (she goes by her middle name) went to beauty school in Abilene while she was in high school, meaning when she graduated, she already had her license. And even though she retired from doing hair a year and a half ago, she is one of Austin’s best-known stylists – a career she knew she wanted to chase after ever since she was 10.
“I was really good at it, had a knack for it, just playing with Barbies and dolls,” she says, “That’s where I first learned to braid hair.”
Her first job was as a receptionist at Supercuts, and after gaining a year of experience, she moved on to Regis at the Lakeline Mall in 1996. There, she started going beyond simple cuts, with colors and updos, which she really liked.
Next up, she moved to Salon 505 at The Arboretum, and for over three years, she built up her clientele, becoming known as the updo queen. Neff also worked at Bella Salon, but after another year there, she set out to do her own thing. She rented space at the Gallery of Salons and Spa in the Northcross Mall and ran her own little suite for three and a half years and by that time, she had a portfolio (a photo album with her styles and cuts glued inside) and really wanted her own brand.
When it came to naming her new business she knew she wanted something fun, hip, trendy and cute. She specialized in updos, but updo.com wasn’t available…
“I was like, ‘think of brands where you like the name,’ and I thought of Urban Decay makeup. I combined that with Betty. I asked some people if it worked, Urban Betty was available, this feels like home.” The rest is updo history.
Urban Betty operated just upstairs from their current location, but as she brought on new people, they needed a bigger space. The salon now operates in 3400 square feet with 23 styling chairs. And get ready for a second Urban Betty location scheduled to open Fall 2018.
Chelle and her Urban Betty tribe are also big on giving back to the Austin community. Her annual clothing swap gives back which having fun too. It’s no wonder she was recognized with a Golden Boot for philanthropist of the Year at Austin Fashion Week 2014.
“This was something I didn’t even know about, using business as a tool for nonprofits and those that need help, so we do a SafePlace clothing swap, and everyone brings in clothes and trades them out,” she says. “It didn’t cost any money to do but benefited tons of people.”
Urban Betty is located at 1206 W. 38th Street #1107, Austin, TX 78705 Salon hours are 8:30 am – 9 pm M-F and 9 am – 6 pm Saturday and Sunday.
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