In Larkspur, a mobile hair salon — inside a vintage Airstream — sticks out

Hair & There owner Karis Vince colors the hair of Kim Surry inside her mobile salon in Larkspur. Photo Credit: Christian Murdock, The Gazette

The speed limit is 25 mph, but cars tend to slow down well below that for a good look at the only hair salon in town.

On the side of a quiet road, the flashy 1963 Airstream stands out.

So does its owner, Kari Vince. When someone stops by, Vince bounces out of her adjacent house in rainbow moon boots, wearing big glasses and a big smile. She’s ready to chat about the Airstream. Or style hair inside the iconic travel trailer.

“I’ve met some of the most interesting people doing this,” she said. “You attract your tribe when you do something like this.”

The 37-year-old hair stylist left Denver last year to find a front yard and space for her shiny trailer, the home of her mobile hair salon.

Vince’s business, Hair & There, isn’t so mobile these days. Now that she’s one of the 200 or so people who live in Larkspur, she wants to settle in. Clients can always come to her.

That wasn’t always the plan. After cutting and styling hair for 13 years, Vince said she was ready to work outside a brick-and-mortar hair salon.

In Larkspur, a mobile hair salon — inside a vintage Airstream — sticks out

Kari Vince washes client Kim Surry’s hair with the help of her cat Moonbeam inside her Hair & There Mobile Salon outside her home. Photo Credit: Christian Murdock/The Gazette

She thought about opening an on-wheels Kava bar, which led her to start searching online for vintage trailers. That’s when she came across one operating as a hair salon.

The seller was a woman named Katy from Katy, Texas, who was getting rid of her Airstream after breaking her ankle in a rock climbing accident. The trailer came with cute and funky decor and a vintage hair dryer. Vince bought it in May 2018.

When she took Hair & There to downtown Denver, the things Vince loved about being mobile made operating the business tricky.

“The whole first year was trying to park places,” Vince said. “It was a roller coaster of where do I keep this thing? Where do people want me?”

She could park anywhere, but clients didn’t always just show up. She didn’t have to pay rent, but parking meters cost her $50 per day. She’d set up in front of a business on Colfax Avenue and an owner would complain about the generator’s noise. One called the police.

“You have these grand ideas of how fun it’s going to be,” Vince said. “You do run into some roadblocks.”

And it’s not easy to keep an old trailer in top shape. The water freezes. The doors fall off. Repairs are always needed.

“You’re never just a hair salon,” Vince said. “You have to keep this thing running.”

Frustrated one day, she started driving without a destination. She remembered a friend saying they loved Larkspur, the tiny community south of Castle Rock, hard by Interstate 25. She headed that way.

Vince pulled into a gas station and asked the man behind the counter if she could park the salon there. He didn’t know. But he pointed to the house next door. It was for sale and came with more than an acre of land. In May, Vince and her boyfriend, Jared O’Dell, moved in.

In Larkspur, a mobile hair salon — inside a vintage Airstream — sticks out

Kari Vince’s mobile hair salon business is in Larkspur. She has a geodesic dome next door to the trailer. Photo Credit: Amanda Hancock/The Gazette

At first, she worried about being “too weird” for the small town.

“I didn’t know how people here would take me,” Vince said. “I dress like a goofball. But, you realize, people are weird everywhere.”

That doesn’t mean people haven’t noticed them.

“We have 200 people,” Larkspur Mayor Marvin Cardenas said. “It’s hard to not know what’s going on.”

“It definitely does stand out,” he said of the Airstream.”

But they’re welcome here.

“We’re glad they came to town,” Cardenas said. “They’ve got some really good ideas.”

He likes the couple’s ideas for filling their spacious front yard. Vince has a lot of them. She’s already hosted concerts there and set up a small, back-yard-sized geodesic dome, where she often watches the sunset. Maybe she’ll open a little Popsicle stand or read tarot cards, because, “I’m a super spontaneous person.” She wants to host “little carnivals” during the nearby Colorado Renaissance Festival this summer. She has dreams of building a greenhouse, too.

She could do all of that here, in her new town, her new home. Vince joined the water board and O’Dell is on the planning board.

“Hey,” she said. “Maybe I’ll run for mayor one day.”

For now, she’s focused on running her hair salon how she wants. That means staying put.

“People want to escape the 9-to-5 and the routine,” she said. “This has just made me realize that other ways of life are very hard. It’s way less stressful staying in one place.”

And business has been good. Locals pop in for a trim. People drive from Denver and Colorado Springs to get their hair cut. O’Dell, a construction manager, helps out when things go awry.

But when she gets calls about doing hair at weddings or working an event in New York City, Vince passes.

She is taking Hair & There to Loveland’s international Airstream rally in June. Other than that, Vince plans to stay here.

“I get up in the morning and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, I get to walk out in my yard to my salon and see awesome people and make enough money to survive,’ ” Vince said. “I don’t know, is that when you know you’ve really succeeded?”


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