Striking out on your own is a thrilling prospect – but maybe you miss the hustle and bustle of salon life, of working alongside your peers. The rise of co-working salon spaces has been timed perfectly with freelancers’ desire for more flexibility, so we’re shining a spotlight on some of the hub-style spaces for freelancers up and down the country…

Images: Whitworth Street Creative Studio


Whitworth Street Creative Studio has had a major glow-up this year, moving from its first location opposite First Street to its new, larger plot near Sackville Gardens. The light and airy space in Regency House is a haven for the busy bees of Manchester, and is a new home for the city’s talented freelance creatives. Exposed brickwork and traditional features are softened by the sheer amount of light and greenery in the space.

Patrick Marrow is the brains behind the venture, having previously owned and run HIVE in Manchester – a concept he grew and developed into the current Whitworth Street set-up.


What sparked the initial idea for Whitworth Street Creative Studio?

“There was a new appetite for people to work freelance following COVID. After the two main lockdowns, hairdressers and colourists alike collectively felt that they are worth more to their communities than they had either led themselves to believe, or had been led to believe. I wanted to help shift the status quo and empower people. I wanted to help them achieve a proper work/life balance, and pursue their main passion behind the chair.”

How was this a development on your previous venture, HIVE?

“Ultimately, the salon wasn’t working in its previous iteration. I realised that the aesthetic I had put together, whilst eye-catching and fun, essentially put off the type of people who I wanted to come on board with me from joining. It’s obviously difficult for salon owners to be subjective about something that they build. I actually had a bit of an identity crisis; I saw the success of salons with a bright aesthetic, and felt that applying that fun element to hairdressing was what I wanted to do… but all I was left with was a space that was more ‘look at me’ than simply ‘me’. It was a self-employed model, but adopting a completely freelance sentiment within the salon and rebranding really appealed to new members and early adopters of this lifestyle.”

What do your members love the most?

“Take away the obvious financial benefits and, ultimately, I just think freedom is the most appealing. Their earning potential, their ability to be their own brand, their own educator, their own boss without all the overheads to open a space up… it’s all a huge plus. We have such a great vibe in the studio now, where we bounce ideas off each other as well as have fun. Because of the ebb and flow of the salon, due to the nature in which the team works, no one day is the same.”

What does Whitworth Street offer that other rent-a-chair options do not?

“In order to use the space, in any form, you have to be a member. It’s a small detail but it means the members feel like they’re a part of a community. There is, and never will be, more members than chairs – even when members reduce their use of the space to one day a week. I felt it was important to create an environment in which people knew they always had a space. We have the chance to collaborate with each other, to use the space to educate and deliver classes if they choose, and we create a climate of openness with each other. I feel that rent-a-chair can sometimes mean stylists experience a more insular experience in their chosen space. We do everything we can to change that.”

Tell us a bit about the new site. What were some of the key design or feature elements that you were keen to nail?

“The name and aesthetic was inspired by the lower west side of New York City. Loft style, high ceilings, cast iron and huge windows that let light flood in, surrounded by some of the most incredible buildings Manchester has to offer. You can’t ignore the plants. Some say I’m obsessed. Alongside the 18ft long, live-edge pippy oak console, they’re one of our main features – especially the Bird of Paradise plant that we all call the ‘Big Boy’! I certainly feel that it brings a calm to the space that we didn’t have in the old salon; I wanted lots of calming features. The green chairs and wooden worktops create an urban oasis, making it a really easy place to spend prolonged amounts of time in.”