While few D.C.-based colorists can say they cater to celebrity clientele on a regular basis, Ian McCabe tells a different story. The 31-year-old colorist has a long list of A-listers who frequent his namesake salon, including former White House big wigs, fitness guru Tracey Anderson and even some of the Orange Is the New Black cast.
Located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. and coated in a palette of soft blues, grays and whites, the Ian McCabe Studio combines an atmosphere of streamlined innovation and modern comfort. The salon's upscale offerings correlate with those in some of the nation's mainstream beauty hubs, like New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
Even though Washington, D.C. seems worlds away from bigger name beauty scenes, in terms of caliber—there's a salon on almost every avenue in the Big Apple, if not two—McCabe believes the nation's capital is ready to join the likes of the major East and West Coast players.
"Location doesn’t limit a skill set and I think people have finally started to realize that," McCabe says. Thanks to the power of social media, more and more cities, especially Washington, D.C., have the ability to becoming beauty-centric powerhouses in the near future. "It's no longer only about New York or Los Angeles," McCabe says. "There are talented hairdressers everywhere and social media is giving them a voice and creative platform to do what they love, and share it on a larger-than-life scale."
Flashback to 15 years ago, McCabe got his start shampooing at a local beauty spot and quickly climbed the ranks. Once he graduated beauty school, he found a job at a Baltimore salon and developed a passion for coloring. "This was a time when no one in Baltimore specialized in color," McCabe says, "so it was a huge leap to make that commitment." A few years later, he found himself in downtown D.C. and continued paving his path, eventually leading him to open up a salon in his mid-twenties.
The Ian McCabe Studio is located at 1101 23rd Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Today, McCabe continues to play on his strengths as a colorist, but hires stylists with skills in both coloring and styling, creating a completely departmentalized salon. "This really adds extra expertise and craft to our skillset, and creates even more of a family-like atmosphere."
While most underestimate their future successes, McCabe says he could've predicted where that he'd be where he is today. "If you had told me I'd be where I am today, I would've believed you," McCabe says. "I had such a laser-focus mindset and drive." And, he's not slowing down anytime soon. Come summer, McCabe will open his second location in a D.C. neighborhood called NoMa, which has a completely different vibe from his current location.
"It’s edgier, versatile and hip," McCabe says of the area. "My first salon is in a very subtle and charming part of D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood, where there's still colonial architecture.” While the clientele will be largely different in McCabe’s new digs, he says that "it all comes down to people who want to look great and be treated well." No matter where you work—be it a different neighborhood, city or state—that's a winning combination.