Beauty & Style


I have been on maternity leave for 8 months, and it has been fantastic.  That wasn’t exactly “The Plan”, though.  When I was pregnant, I had planned on taking 3 months off, then putting the baby into daycare, and adjusting my hours at the salon to accommodate the daycare’s hours.  


Well, “The Plan” went out the window when I was 38 weeks pregnant and Mr. Heatherland and I decided to relocate from Massachusetts to Virginia.  I didn’t go back to work, I didn’t put the little guy in daycare, instead I have been happily building a new life in Virginia and enjoying time with my baby.


But, now I miss hairdressing

That kind of snuck up on me.  I actually didn’t expect to miss it.  I’m pretty sure there’s a part of me that just needs the creative outlet, the conversation, and the feeling of accomplishment.  But unfortunately, there’s the classic problem associated with “going back to work”,  and this is the problem all mothers face, no matter what you do for a living: How do you balance work-life and motherhood? Do you dive back in?  Do you stop working altogether?  Do you try something different? Even if you want to go back to work, or if you have to go back, your heart really does (and always will) remain with your little one.  It’s a bittersweet challenge.   Because you go back to work as a different person, with different priorities, and a different level of commitment.


My situation is a little complex because we moved, so I can’t go back to my old salon and pick up where I left off.  I have to re-build from scratch.  Which is fine, I’ve done it three times already, I am sure I can do it again.   But I’ve been pondering, and noodling, and day dreaming, and trying to figure out how the heck I can strike a decent balance.  Typically a hairdresser works late hours, and weekends, but I’ve been enjoying not doing that… So, how do I have my cake and eat it too? 


here’s the revelation…

Mr. Heatherland and I recently bought a beautiful new home in the a charming Town of Herndon, that happens to be very walkable to downtown.  And guess what… this house has about 600 sqft of unfinished space in the basement, and it already has plumbing in the floor! (trust me, that’s very important).  What do you think? Can I have a little salon at home?


We certainly didn’t buy this house with the intention of putting a salon in the basement.  It wasn’t until about a month ago Mr. Heatherland and I were musing, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just work from home…” and I swear actual lightbulbs turned on over our heads.  Why can’t I?  People do that, right?  I googled home-based salons in Virginia to find out what the rules were, and the more I read about it, the more it appeared our house was perfect for it.  


  • Needs Separate Entrance, check.
  • Needs Bathroom for Business use, check.
  • Needs Parking on the property itself, not on the street, check.
  • No more that ⅓ the house can be devoted to the business, check.
  • No exterior signage, not a problem.
  • No more than 4 customers a day, excellent!


Then the big hurdle was this:  We live in a historic part of town, with pretty strict rules about the general aesthetic of your home and such, and I had no idea if the town’s zoning board would allow a home-based salon where we were.  


So, the next morning with my baby strapped to my chest I set off to talk to the zoning department, and at first the conversation was a bit of a head-scratcher for them because they hadn’t had this request before.  But as we went over the rules together, they took a peek at the property, and my plan, and before I knew it I was walking home with a stack of papers to read, permits to file, and a signature from the zoning board giving me the green light to do the build-out.


Giddy up!

I get to wear one of my favorite hats of all time: General Contractor!  I have a plan, a few drawings, a long shopping list, a schedule, a budget, and after meeting many, many subcontractors, I have a band of merry men to help me try to pull this together on time.  As much as I would love to DIY, now that I’m a mama there is very little time for my trusty tyvek suits and respirator masks.  On the docket this week: Concrete Floor Polishing. 


Oh, and here’s a little sense of what I’m trying to create.  Simple, clean, contemporary.  A space I actually want to spend time in!

Salon Vision Board

If I actually pull this off, this whole “Build it and they will come” idea, I will be such a lucky duck. Getting to work in a space I love, on client’s that I love, and do it “just enough” so I still love what I do.  What could be better?  Plus, I can lead by example for my little guy and show him that if what you need isn’t available, you just have to build it.

Postpartum Style Arsenal.

I was thoroughly warned that becoming a new mom meant everything in my life had to be on auto pilot for awhile.  That was a fair warning, the day our baby was born I officially had zero time or mental energy to devote to anything besides my him.


Since I had that pre-baby warning,  I had time to prepare.  I knew my beauty and style regime had to be altered to fit my new lifestyle, otherwise I would just be walking around looking like an train wreck… And when you feel like a train wreck, the last thing you want is to look like a train wreck!


I imagined a world where people said, “Wow… you just had a baby?  You look amazing!”  A girl can dream, right?

No Brainer Style

These have been my 6 favorite no-brainer items that I had in my arsenal from the beginning, I still use all six of these every day even at the 11 weeks postpartum mark.

AIH_2016 new mom's style arsenal Collage-3

One: Dry Shampoo, because you know… even if you are a lucky duck that gets to shower every day, I highly doubt you’re blowdrying your hair too.  Dry shampoo will be your best friend.  I love Batiste, because they make a formula tinted for dark hair.

Two:  Highlighting Pen is key for faking a good night’s sleep.  This is less about what people think about you, and more about how you feel about yourself when you look in the mirror. I used to love YSL Touche Eclat, but now I’m pretty smitten with L’oreal Magic Lumi, it’s a fourth the price and you can get it on amazon (and have it part of your subscriptions so it automatically shows up every month with your baby’s diapers!).

Three: Washable Breast Pads.  Even if you’re not breastfeeding, you’re going to have some leakage.  I know the disposable ones might seem like a good choice but that is like a one-way ticket to Mastitis Town.  Every lactation consultant I encountered said the same thing: Anything going on leaky boobs needs to breath.  It’s good advice.

Four: Spanx Leggings I’ve never been a Spanx girl, but these have changed my mind.  They’ve been like my secret weapon!  Before I could squeeze back into my jeans, I was in leggings everyday, and these Spanx ones have a nice high waist and are a true opaque black.  Love them and still wear them most days at home.

Five:  Nursing Bras, if you are breast feeding, I found these bras at target the most comfortable and easiest to use.  I’m an underwire girl, so these were like a dream.  Plus they are pretty.

Six: Postpartum Corset.  If you’re crazy like me and wanted to not see any of that jiggle or wiggle of your belly, get yourself into a postpartum corset.  I will expand on this in a later post, but I am a huge fan of waist training, especially after having a baby.






A Lesson In Diamonds.

Let’s talk about diamonds, shall we?  What if I told you that you can find a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind diamond ring for a fraction of the price you would expect to pay?  I went on such a quest that ended with this ring:


One night over dinner, while pregnant of course, I casually mentioned to Mr. Heatherland that I had a keen interest in receiving a push present.  He looked at me confused as he waited for the explanation of what a push present was, and by the end of my persuasive pitch, he thought it was a decent request.

Until the next day, when he asked some of his friends at work if they had given their wives a push present.  The answers poured in at a resounding, “No, the baby is the gift“. So when he came back to report his findings, I wasn’t sure who I wanted hit with a sock full of nickels first, the guys at his office or their wives… It was a tough call.
But luckily Mr. Heatherland is a reasonable fella that likes to pick his battles, and this one was not worth the debate since he really felt like I deserved a gift.  Phew!  I then told him that I thought it would be a marvelous idea if my push present was another diamond ring to stack with my engagement band; after all what good is having a band if you can’t stack it with other bands?
I’m sure Mr. Heatherland wished he had known about the “stacking plan” before buying me such a generous engagement band, but now he knows I had envisioned one ring to symbolize our marriage, one to symbolize our child, and one to symbolize a big anniversary. Lucky for me I have man hands very robust fingers that can carry such lofty jewelry ambitions.


The hunt was afoot, and after just a few tries we quickly discovered that there weren’t a lot of other bands that complimented mine. Stacking was going to be much harder than I thought. You see, the height of my original band was quite taller than a traditional “stacker” and nothing was really looking good with it.  We were starting to think we needed to have a ring made, which was not really in the budget.
We went to Long’s jewelry store to poke around and get an idea on the height a custom band needed to be.  As we wandered around, trying on different rings and perusing the cases of jewelry, the last stop we made was their estate case to looked at some of the consignment pieces.
Immediately my eye went to this circa 1910 five stone diamond ring. It was taller than mine, but I loved the way they looked together.
Mr. Heatherland was not so keen at first because it was seemed so much bigger than the engagement band, but then we started talking brass tacks about the price and learned something very interesting.


This ring has five Old European Cut diamonds, making it very unique to todays diamonds.  Antique diamonds were hand cut with inventive faceting techniques during the 18th and 19th century to make them sparkle under gas lamps (since they were cut and worn before electricity was invented!). That makes them 100% one-of-a-kind, not cookie cutter laser cut diamonds.
But here’s the kicker: The way they GIA values antique diamonds is to compare them to modern standards of cut, clarity, and color. You have to remember that these diamonds were cut a century ago before the whitest diamonds of South Africa were even discovered! So how do they measure up to modern standards? Well, lucky for me… Not well!  As a consumer you can score wonderfully large, gorgeous diamonds at a fraction of the price.
There is a whole camp of antique jewelry dealers that have lobbied to get updated standard to grade antique diamonds on their own scale so they can fetch higher prices, but a true and meaningful change has yet to be implemented.
This ring cost 80% less than what it’s modern day equivalent would have run us. And it truly is gorgeous! It holds up next to my modern band very well, complimenting it perfectly.


Antique diamonds are becoming more and more rare as well.  Historically people would purchase a large antique stone with the intention to recut it with a laser to give it the modern day brilliance we’ve grown to expect- and in the meantime losing up to 20-25% of the diamond.  To find untouched antique diamond is a special thing.  There are three main styles: Old Mine Cut, Rose Cut, and Old European Cut.
(illustrations sourced from Erstwhile)



Old mine cut diamonds were developed in 18th century Europe.  Also known as cushion cuts, these diamonds were not round but had a slightly curved edge which formed a soft square. And because they were cut by hand to maximize their brilliance, they displayed a variety of facet patterns. 



Hello, unique.  With just 24 facets, the subtle beauty of rose cut diamonds is that they impart a soft diffused light rather then the bright light we expect from diamonds. The most distinctive trait of a rose cut diamond is that they are flat at the bottom and dome shaped at the top.



The prevailing style from the 1890s to the 1930s, Old European cut diamonds are the grandfathers to the modern round brilliant cut we know today. This cut is rounder from the top than the old mine cut’s cushion shape, but has the same number of facets as a modern diamond, but the facets are large triangles instead, and the cutlet at the bottom is flat and visible when you look directly down at it.


My late night google-ing led me down lots of avenues to find antique diamond rings.  But the best websites I found are Fancy Flea AntiquesEragem, and Erstwhile.



Erstwhile is my favorite by far.  If you have the budget and a taste for the finer things it’s a joy to swoon over their curated pieces as well as their own originals.



If you happen to live in New England, a trip to Market Square Jewelers is a must.  They specialize in this sort of thing and have a great selection at modest prices.  This is just the place to score something great.  They also have a sampling of their vast inventory on their Etsy Storefront.


Admittedly, I asked Mr. Heatherland to stretch the budget a little to accommodate this ring, but in my defense it is certainly a whole lot prettier and more unique than what I initially thought I wanted.


For a single hot minute I actually felt bad about stretching the budget.  But then after experiencing my prolonged back labor in an unassisted, unmedicated birth I think I earned EVERY DAMN CARAT… I pushed, my God did I push! But that’s a story for a different day.
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