VAIN is a hair salon, an art gallery, a boutique and a community space committed to the expression of personal style. Click any of the links above to learn more about who we are and what we do.
Frustrated by the prevailing attitudes about beauty in the high fashion world, Victoria Thomas Gentry founded VAIN in 1996 in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. Committed to fostering personal self-expression and a “do-it-yourself” philosophy, Victoria initially opened VAIN as a boutique beauty supply. This model put the consumer in the driver’s seat, encouraging people to explore and create their own personal vision of beauty. Having moved to Seattle from New York, Victoria made sure to bring some East Coast style to VAIN and its first customers. That style, along with Victoria’s commitment to individual self-expression, remain integral forces of VAIN to this day.
In 1997 the word was out and the demand for Victoria’s personalized haircuts spread, prompting the addition of a one-chair hair salon in the back of the VAIN boutique. Unimpressed by the limited offerings of corporate hair products, Victoria launched the VAIN hair product line. With products like Dirty Boy Dirty Girl hair goo and 2nd Day Hair shampoo, VAIN met the needs of people searching for the non-squeaky clean look and for an alternative to salon-exclusive mainstream hair care products.
Since then, VAIN has built a reputation for delivering cutting edge style in a comfortable, fun, and empowering way that remains focused on the individual. Fueled by Victoria’s interest in social causes and a drive to promote conscientious capitalism, VAIN began and has continued building connections with communities of people who are working for social change, making VAIN more than just a hair salon.
In 1999, VAIN’s loyal following and the demand for hair services had exceeded the capacity of the three-chair salon. The old Vogue building that housed the infamous Seattle nightclub “The Vogue” was available. Securing a lease on this historic location, Victoria set to work renovating the three-story building, securing a place in the building’s—and Seattle’s- history.
In 2001, VAIN reopened its doors at 2018 1st Ave as a 10-chair hair salon, an art gallery featuring the work of local artists, and a boutique specializing in hair and beauty supplies, beauty tools, accessories, makeup, jewelry, stationery, and gift items. The additional space allowed VAIN to host community events, fundraisers, and art shows. Recognizing the loss of affordable artists workspace in downtown Seattle, the upper floors of VAIN dowtown now house 20 artist studios.
In 2003 VAIN expanded its arts programming to include an artist-in-residency program, celebrating new and emerging local artists and the creative process.
In August 2007 VAIN took a step in a new direction- Ballard. VAIN Ballard, the salon’s first second location in its 11-year history, opened at 5401 Ballard Ave in the heart of the neighborhood’s shopping and restaurant district. The salon features senior VAIN stylists as well as new talent, and a small boutique storefront featuring jewelry, accessories, and more.
Since its start, VAIN has been committed to being an active part of the Seattle community through activism, mentorship, donations, hair stylist appearances, and the use of its space for fundraising events. Organizations that VAIN has worked with and supported include Seattle Young People’s Project, Home Alive, Seattle Metrocenter YMCA, LGBT Community Center, Vera Project, Rose of Lima House, Jubilee Center, and the Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. In 2005, VAIN was honored to be selected as the host of a fundraising event for Choice USA, featuring guest speaker Gloria Steinem.
VAIN has received numerous awards and recognition over the years, including NW Source.com’s Best Hair Salon, Seattle Magazine’s Best Edgy Salon, and Citysearch.com’s Best Place to go for a New Look, Best Accessories, Best Gifts and Stationery. VAIN was also a finalist for the The Downtown Seattle Association’s 2006 Downtown Champion Award, recognizing businesses that contribute to a vibrant urban core. Victoria and VAIN have been featured in articles in local and national fashion magazines, online and print media including Harpers Bazaar, Jane, Lucky, NY Times, Self, CMJ magazine, Seattle P-I, and Seattle Metropolitan.