Meet Your Merchant: Summer-school out leads to passion for cosmetology |

Meet Your Merchant: Summer-school out leads to passion for cosmetology

Cranston & Co.

Hair Loft

1200 East Main St., Grass Valley


Facebook: Cranston & Co. Hair Loft

Sarah Cranston received some alarming news when she was a junior in high school.

She was short on school credits. If she was going to graduate on time, she only had two options: take a Regional Occupational Program class (a course through a career preparation program), or worse — summer school.

When it came to class choices, none of the options thrilled Cranston, least of all cosmetology school. But something shifted when she accidentally overheard her mother talking in the other room.

“Well, if she goes to cosmetology school in Yuba City, how would she get there?” her mom said. “I guess we’d have to get her a car.”

Boom. That was all Cranston needed to hear. Suddenly cosmetology school seemed a lot more attractive given the perk of a new car. She shared her “newfound enthusiasm” with her mother and before long she was behind the wheel and off to beauty college.

“I thought I’d do hair until I figured out what I really wanted to do,” she said. “I got licensed at 18 — that was 20 years ago.”

As it turned out, becoming a hair stylist or “hair artist,” as Cranston calls herself, was exactly what she wanted to do. She discovered she loved the creativity, the long-term client relationships, the flexible schedule and the camaraderie with her salon co-workers.


Cranston started off her career by working in several Nevada County salons, then briefly out of her home. But 10 years ago, she finally took a leap of faith and opened her own small salon, Cranston & Co. Hair Studio, in a small East Main Street shopping center, which is currently home to Embellish Nail Salon, Haven Skin & Wax Studio and Life Chiropractic.

When a clothing store next door decided to close, the landlord encouraged Cranston to move into the larger space. That was five years ago, and she’s never regretted her decision. She changed the name to Cranston & Co. Hair Loft.


“We took a year to renovate the new space — I wanted it to be different from other salons,” she said. “Then suddenly the right stylists also seemed to show up at the right time.”

Thanks to her brother-in-law, who is a welder, Cranston transformed the space into a stunning, unique salon with a rustic industrial theme.

“I love repurposing things — I enjoy the thrill of the hunt at estate sales and thrift stores,” she said, pointing to an old stagecoach seat as an example. “I wanted this place to have character.”

Today, Cranston runs a busy salon with seven other stylists, including Kayla Schies, Myranda Craw, Carolyn Harwood, Halie Phillips, Christie Fain, Jessica Parra (who also does eyelash extensions) and Ashley Benham.


“I’m picky about who I work with and we have the best team of talented people and we all have our niches,” said Cranston. “We’re really good friends and sometimes hang out outside of work.”

The salon caters to male and female clients ranging in age from preschoolers to seniors. Some of Cranston’s loyal clients have been with her since she started 20 years ago.

In addition to the staff’s expertise and knowledge of trends due to ongoing education classes, clients also seek out the salon for its selection of hair products. Carefully vetted by Cranston, these include the eco-friendly Flow hair product line, which is sulfate and paraben free.

Also San Francisco-based Nicolas, Cezanne Smoothing Treatment and Wolf, a complete men’s hair care line and shaving cream.

“We all love working here — there’s no drama here, ever,” said Benham. “There’s always room to grow here and we all want to see each other succeed.”

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at

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