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Beyond Hair with MJ Deziel

Apart Studio


MJ Deziel is a hair stylist, founder, and creative director of Apart Studio, a salon offering a collaborative and safe environment for marginalized clientele. We interviewed them at their salon on St. Laurent Boulevard in the heart of Montreal.

MJ: My name is MJ Deziel, I’m the founder and creative director at Apart Studio.
Kellyane: I’m Kellyane Pepin, executive director, manager and co-owner.
Emma: Hi I’m Emma Janelle and I’m the brand and social media manager.

How would you describe APART studio?

MJ: That’s a good question! I would say it’s a creative studio, we work mainly in the hair industry. It’s a hair salon at its core but I think it goes beyond that.

Kellyane: We regroup independent minds in a collaborative space. Everyone is a freelancer; they have their own career, vision and branding. We collaborate on projects and we evolve together toward a greater purpose.

Emma: APART studio is a hair salon that became something much more inspiring and creative. At the base, it starts with hair, but what can a good hair day do for you? Everyone leaves the studio feeling reinvented and confident. That’s the power of Apart Studio!

Kellyane: It’s also a feeling of community! Not only in the studio but as a small business in Montreal, we all know each other.

How do you make APART studio a safe place?

Emma: I feel it starts with the way the hairstylist makes the client feel coming on the chair.

MJ: Belonging to the community myself, I have a different view of the heteronormative world. I left some traditional hair salons because of a lack of open-mindedness, they didn’t want to change things. That’s what motivated me to create a safe space for myself and for my clients who are marginalized as well. We can offer a safe space with initiatives like gender-neutral pricing and asking people for their pronouns. Small stuff goes a long way. I can’t proclaim my space completely safe because I still learn every day, but it’s at the heart of our values as a queer-owned salon.

You three are very close, how is it to work together?

MJ: It’s challenging but it’s interesting. Kelly is my ex-partner and Emma is my girlfriend. It was difficult to define our dynamic as a trio. It requires a lot of communication! Workwise, they’re in charge of the business side while I have more hands-on experience.

Kellyane: The school of life!

MJ: Exactly! I’m grateful to have them both to help me realize my creative vision.

What’s the model of APART studio?

Kellyane: We work with freelancers but we still want to offer a collaborative space. It’s a challenge to create a business culture and a sense of belonging in a salon where everyone is independent. Still, I think it’s the future and what people are looking for in a workplace.

MJ: We went beyond the traditional boundaries in hairdressing and we want to be a progressive place. It comes with a lot of challenges when you want to change things but you don’t have benchmarks. You need to be creative, it’s a lot of trial and error.

Kellyane: One day we will be the model and we could teach it. It would be quite an achievement!

Want to learn more?
Check out APART Studio's Insta!

Shop the Bench jacket seen on MJ!

Unisex Flannel Quilted Plaid Shirt Jacket