Hairstylist Christine Cordey provides salon guests a “safe space”

When Nyack hairstylist Christine Cordey is behind the chair, one thing is certain—salon guests are in good hands. The founder of Christine Cordey Salon is coming up on over a decade of owning the business, with the South Broadway establishment celebrating its eleventh year anniversary on May 16. Cordey herself, however, has been styling hair for much longer: 30 years, to be exact.

“I come from a family of hairdressers,” Cordey told the RCT. “I’m third generation. It’s something I’ve been around all my life. It’s something you learn about and don’t even realize you’re learning as you’re hearing table talk about it. I came right out of high school and went to beauty school, and then went right behind a chair. I’ve been behind that chair for 30 years now and never left.”

Though Cordey had a host of experience to aid her when opening Christine Cordey Salon in 2013, it was a journey she had never planned on taking. After moving on from her first salon in Warwick, New Jersey, she began working for another hairdresser on Main Street in Nyack, where she planned on staying “until the end.” But when the owner decided to close her doors due to age and the struggling economy, she encouraged Cordey to open her own.

“I had no intentions of opening a salon—I knew how hard it was,” Cordey recalled. “But when (the owner) decided to close, she was the one who pushed me to do it. She said, ‘I want you to open your own salon. You’re ready.’ She helped me pick out furniture and get all my paperwork in order…That’s how the salon came.”

By happenstance, Cordey found the spot she’s now had for 11 years on South Broadway in Nyack—a happy coincidence, as she loves the village community. While doing good hair is certainly a top priority, Cordey is quick to note that she particularly prides herself on providing an intimate, safe space for the clients she and her two fellow stylists serve.

“I think as a young stylist, you kind of go into it like, ‘Oh, hair and new trends, let’s do this, and it’s all glamorous’…” Cordey explained. “But there’s a change that happens (over time). It evolves into more of a depth-full job, versus just doing a haircut that’s really fun and great. It becomes about relationships; who you meet and why they’re sitting in your chair. And sometimes it’s not just about the hair. Sometimes it’s about the whole package of being vulnerable—of letting somebody else take care of you and trusting them to make you your best visually.”

Cordey has also made it a point to give back to her community. Beyond donating to the Nyack Center and Soup Angels, Cordey has also established the Christine Cordey Scholarship: a substantial award given to a Rockland, Orange, or Westchester student entering or currently enrolled in a cosmetology program.

Because beauty school graduates cannot apply for their state licenses until their tuition is paid off in full, Cordey hopes the award will help these students begin their own cosmetology careers—and start helping clients feel beautiful—that much sooner.

“I think the intention of (my own) salon is to be a safe place with great work, and to be able to leave a legacy in the industry,” said Cordey. “I want my children to see that being in a trade is something that’s very important. I think people in general need to understand that when you’re in a service business, there’s a lot more behind it…It’s been an amazing journey.”

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