“I highly recommend Angela to anyone who wants an exceptional haircut and amazing color. I found her by accident and have been lucky ever since. Her artistry and cut is exceptional and her ability to do color is truly beautiful. I always leave feeling like a million bucks and get compliments on my hair all the time.” —Laura Richardson, Kirkland
Getting ‘glammed up’
Like many pre-teen girls, I didn’t like the way I looked. When I was in second grade, I had cradle cap on my eyelids, which made them look yellow and crusty. I started wearing mascara to school, and the cradle cap went away.
People began commenting, “You have the most beautiful eyelashes.”
I got so much positive feedback that of course, I was hooked on mascara. I also started dancing at age 10, and we had to get glammed up for performances, which meant learning how to apply makeup. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world.
My first updo
I had my first “updo” experience at age 15. A school dance was coming up, and I begged my mom to take me to a salon for an updo. My hair turned out horrible. I cried my eyes out, and as soon as we got home, I took it down and redid it myself.
Looking on, my mom commented, “I’m not going to spend money on this if you can do it yourself.”
And that was the end of that. Or maybe I should say, that was the beginning.
At the dance, my friends saw my hair and shrieked, “Your hair looks better than mine. Can you do mine?”
Fast forward to my senior year of high school. Prom night. I did updos for 10 of my friends. We all looked like clones (I wasn’t as creative as I am now!). But hey, it was the 90s, and if you had an updo, everyone thought you looked great. If the updo stayed put, that was even better.
When I look back at my prom pictures from 1999, I’m horrified. I had on a ton of makeup and a deep, “fake ‘n bake” tanning-booth tan. I looked more like a 40-year-old leather handbag than a radiant teenager.
During high school, all I cared about was dancing and performing. I was captain of the school dance team and choreographed all our routines. My goal in life was to be a Seahawks Sea Gal or a member of the Sonics Dance Team. I tried out a total of six times for the teams, and never made either team. Finding out that I wasn’t as good a dancer as I thought was a rude awakening.
I began asking myself, “What can I do that I really like and that provides a decent income?” A friend from my high school dance team had graduated from beauty school and was cutting hair. I asked her how much she made per hour and when she told me, I responded, “Whoa! Maybe I should think of enrolling in beauty school. Everybody tells me I’m good at hair and makeup. I can do this and make good money.
In September 2001, I enrolled. From the get-go, even while I was in beauty school, I was teaching the girls how to do updos. All my mannequin heads had updos!
After graduation, I started working at the Regis Salon in Puyallup’s South Hill Mall. I knew I needed to build a clientele that I could take with me when I moved on, and Regis allowed me that freedom. I transferred to a salon in Bellevue Square Mall, which was more my vibe. I worked there for a year and built my clientele, then began leasing a chair at a salon in Kirkland. That was a risk for someone who was only a year and a half out of beauty school.
I worked at the Kirkland salon for over seven years, and during that time I met and married my husband, Michael. I recall him asking, “Why don’t you own your own salon?”
Long story short: that’s exactly what I did. In 2011, we opened Angela Welsh Designs Salon and Spa in Bellevue. The highlight of each day is meeting amazing people and forming deep, lasting friendships with them. Many of my clients have been with me over 10 years. I love watching clients walk out of the salon looking more radiant than when they walked in… looking confident.
In early 2016, my career is taking yet another turn. The office complex that’s home to my salon is being demolished to make way for a new public transportation system that will go from Seattle to Microsoft.
I’m shifting my focus to providing services that have become a major part of my business: wedding hair, makeup, and photography.
Artistry with hair, makeup, and photography
Michael and I have a unique approach to photography. Many photographers are most comfortable standing behind a camera, and are somewhat emotionally disconnected from their clients. They don’t look at a client from a hair and makeup standpoint.
I believe that when you’re being photographed, wearing the proper amount of makeup – applied skillfully – helps you look your best self in pictures, and not like some weird, distorted version of yourself. It’s a delicate balance.
The same principle applies to hair. I recently photographed a beach wedding (for which I did not style the bride’s hair). The bride looked beautiful, but it was windy and her hair flew everywhere, with little pieces constantly obscuring her face. Oh, how I wish that bride had asked me to secure her hair! Her wedding pictures turned out lovely, but they would have been fantastic had her hair been properly styled.
The personal connection
I firmly believe that when the client and the photographer have a personal rapport, the result is great photos. The more comfortable my clients feel with me, the better they feel about themselves, and the more natural they appear in photographs. I absolutely love getting to know my clients; many of them become friends and they ask me to photograph all sorts of things: proposals, babies, family portraits.
I’d love to get to know you and to chat about how I can help you get “camera-ready” for your special day.