More than Just Hair

Arrow Street Establishment Is About Styles in Hair, Furniture, Art

For those looking to browse antiques and art while they wait for their hair color to process, Duncan Purdy’s About Hair, located at 1 Arrow St., has the solution. Purdy, who exudes the aesthetic of a modern renaissance man, had been managing About Hair for an outside company when it decided to pull out of Cambridge in 1988. He purchased it, and over the past 15 years has taken it to horizons above and beyond hair.

At the salon, services ranging from haircuts to perms and coloring are offered along with products ranging from Paul Mitchell to Aveda and KMS. Audrey Dwyer, a hair dresser and masseuse, says that about half of the salon’s clients are Harvard students, because the prices are reasonable and students receive a 20 percent discount.

When Kelly J. Beall ’05 arrived in Cambridge as a freshman, she went to About Hair on a friend’s recommendation. “I wanted a place that wasn’t super expensive,” she says. As a bonus, owner Purdy integrates scalp massage, oils included, into his haircuts. For those looking for a more holistic experience, he offers Swedish and Shiatsu massage services.

To occupy space in his salon, Purdy brought his long-time hobby of antique collecting to his business.  “He brought a couple of antiques in one day and it just started to catch on,” Dwyer says. Cases of antique jewelry and shelves of old books line the walls, in addition to many other interesting items, including a Japanese watercolor and Highlights of Our 25th Reunion, the Harvard College Class of 1905.

Purdy’s most recent project is an art gallery that includes work from local artists, as well as his own work. The collection revolves around abstract, “semi-abstract” and realist works. Purdy, who trained at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts School, admits that the art business is difficult. “Art is so intangible that people have difficulty understanding its intrinsic value,” he says. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the space offers a drawing class, during which a model comes to sit for portraits and figure drawing.

Given Purdy’s recent acquisition of a now defunct incense retailer’s inventory, there’s no telling what the future will hold. “I’m always open and exploring, everyday,” Purdy says.