“It’s not just a hair salon.” It’s a little bit of everything — a home to hair, art, and music assembled by Cassie Krepel.
Fulton Grace, habitually tracking neighborhood openings, especially ones within blocks of our offices, bellied up to the reception bar at West Town’s Little Broken Things.
Cassie, shop proprietor and multimedia advocate, cooley took our appointment and spoke candidly about creating an alternative to “soft and pretty” salons, a place where men and women can feel equally welcome and comfortable.
Clients and walk-ins (or as the shop likes to dub “Walkens”) receive more than a fresh cut, color, or wax. They’re assimilated into Chicago’s art scene and invited to support. Monthly installations are displayed on the wall opposite the reception area. Locally produced zines fan out on the “living room” table, and cassettes for sale live in a repurposed entertainment center.
Cassie lets her past haunt her, as evidenced by the look and feel of the business she’s cultivated thus far.
But what is this business if not just a hair salon? You could call it “art consignment” for brevity. You could also call Little Broken Things, which opened in mid-August, the Chicago native’s official homecoming.
Before this latest venture, Cassie worked in Los Angeles and Nashville, gaining ammo for an intrinsic calling — opening her own salon at 2137 N Western Ave.
A firm believer of multi-talented artists, stylists included, Cassie shared more about her devotion to different mediums. Yes, she’s blown out hair amidst old castle-like interiors, garnered experience where minimal meets taxidermied, and even had a chair at Logan Square’s Twisted Scissors. She’s also scoured Tennessee flea markets for tiny, neglected materials to craft into wearable pieces, and promoted her boyfriend/management partner’s record label and project.
Shards of this eclectic time capsule now reverberate around Little Broken Things and contribute to the shop’s aesthetic. Cassie admits that much of the design “just kind of worked out.” With only 6 weeks from lease signing to doors opening, Little Broken Things dodged convention and the luxury of inch by inch blueprints. Instead, Cassie and crew picked and placed things as they went.
Metal and wood duke it out. Reclaimed furniture, ornate rugs, a hint of rust, and a smash of goth turn what was an infantile space into a lofty hangout for art and outcasts. Craigslist gems, durable salon equipment and cost-effective products, her own handiwork, and of course, artists’ offerings, compile Little Broken Things. The collection of clean, brooding, vintage, grunge, and homey simply works, especially given the location.
By choosing a growing neighborhood and local painters, poets, and other artists to showcase at the salon’s “gallery,” Cassie keeps things real, if slightly “broken,” and honors the authentic Chicago. City flags punctuate the sentiment.
Already into month 3 of business, we ask Cassie what she hopes to achieve. To pull honesty out of people — not just “appropriate” conversations about the weather. The gutsy mural of L.A.-made poet, Charles Bukowski, sounds in agreement.
Cassie continues that she’d like to add more events to the books. Not just the rotating art exhibits/openings but ways to amplify community involvement and invoke other passions and topical affairs, like animal rescue and mourning Tom Petty.
What about long-term? She unveils the dream — having a Little Broken Things in every neighborhood, each slightly different and reflective of both that area and herself.
While she laments about struggling to be the first of anything in Chicago, Fulton Grace is convinced that this salon is one-of-a-kind.
Witness for yourself by scheduling an appointment or simply stopping by. Pet Reyna, the shop dog, and meet October’s gallery The Art of Jay (@iconicacrylic) featuring Halloween heroes, villains, and monsters.