Highly Qualified Cast
By Jordan Houston
A self-taught artist with an eye for statement pieces, Jamie Almaraz says she knew her hobby couldn’t support her family.
So, she got creative.
Now, with more than 20 years as a hairstylist under her belt, Almaraz has married her love of design to her blossoming career in one of her finest masterpieces to date—Cast Salon & Spa.
“My background is in art; I have always loved it,” the North Valley resident shares. “But I had to come to the conclusion that being an artist oftentimes doesn’t pay the bills.
“I had to separate it into a hobby category and find a career that was going to take care of my kids. Hair is kind of a branch of art, which I continued.”
The Phoenix parlor, located at 5355 E. High Street, Suite 101, specializes in all things beauty and screams SoHo art gallery meets exclusive Los Angeles salon—all while maintaining a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Inside the space, floor-to-ceiling windows and modern jewel tones illuminate displays of framed black and white photos, sleek sculptures and unique light fixtures.
A 250-pound, white Las Vegas chandelier commands the center stage above a group of mixed-wood styling booths.
“We went for more of an industrial wood look. We used all barn woods,” Almaraz says. “Each particular piece was created independently and comes from a different barn.
“You can see by their aging that some of them were from, like, a tobacco barn.”
Luxury for-sale products, including body washes, shampoos and lotions, from brands like Aveda and Miriam Quevedo line backless shelves at the front of the salon.
An assortment of candles and magazines are also displayed throughout the waiting area.
“One thing people repeatedly say about what they love about being here is that it’s just a really casual experience,” Almaraz explains. “They don’t feel like they’re walking into a nightclub or like they have to be fully dressed to the nines. It’s just very comfortable.”
Cast offers standard blow dry and cut services for men, women and children, as well as color touch-ups, wedding packages and extensions.
For those battling the desert’s dryness—or anyone looking to spruce up their locks—the salon staff provides deep conditioning treatments using products like Olaplex.
“We’re not a training salon. All of our stylists are very experienced in doing hair,” the owner expresses. “‘Strong’ would be a great word to describe them.”
Outside of hair, Cast extends its reach into the realm of skin care.
Custom facials, dermaplane treatments, facial peels and brow waxes are administered by a qualified esthetician in a private room.
“There are some relaxing aspects to what we do, but we really focus on the clinical,” Almaraz states. “If somebody is struggling with their skin—the colors and different things like that—we address those things.”
And that’s not all.
Clients can also indulge in botox, at $11 per unit; Dysport, at $4 per unit; and micro-needling at $300, among other cosmetic procedures.
“This (location) is against a developing area; it’s not something that is loaded with services like Scottsdale Road is,” Almaraz says. “I’m offering as much as I can to the area, which is really the focus.”
Before Almaraz became the proud owner of Cast Salon & Spa, she worked as a hairstylist in the very spot her salon sits today.
“This used to be a different salon prior to Cast opening,” she shares. “I moved up here from South Scottsdale and brought my clientele. The owner decided shortly after she was going to step back and sell it.”
The cosmetologist, who describes herself as “on the more shy end of personalities,” decided to take matters into her own hands.
“It was really shocking and I was just shook, but I’m not a mover,” Almaraz recalls. “That was my big move and I’m like, ‘I’m not leaving.’
“I decided to take it over, gutted it, remodeled it and kind of did my own thing,” she continues. “Lo and behold, she’s (the former owner) back and works here now. We’ve gone full circle and we’re really good friends.”
In 2017, Cast opened its doors for business and has grown a loyal following ever since. The salon crew even made an appearance at the New York Fashion Week two years later.
When asked about the inspiration behind Cast’s name, Almaraz points to “one of the best movies of all time”—Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”
“A friend of mine went to an estate sale and came across a signed copy of ‘Pulp Fiction’ by the cast,” she recalls. “She gave this to me as a congratulatory gift and I was like, ‘Interesting … cast.’”
“So, it’s (the name) kind of a play on the cast of your show or the cast of your place,” she adds. “It kind of just stuck.”
In continuance with her love and appreciation for art, Almaraz has the salon host a monthly art walk, called Everything Beautiful.
The free spectacle seeks to showcase local artists while adding character to the neighborhood.
“There’s no culture here. Everything’s downtown,” she explains. “And if you have been to First Fridays, it’s really difficult to find a parking space.
“It’s not so much about the art anymore,” the art aficionado continues. “I feel like it’s kind of gone toward more of a party. So, I thought about bringing it up here and giving people a beautiful environment to put their stuff out and enjoy themselves.”
The walk takes place on the second Saturday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m. It will continue after the pandemic eases.
As for the salon, Almaraz says she is looking forward to what lies ahead.
“I think we all kind of, whether or not we recognize it, search for change. Sometimes we are more scared of it than we are welcoming to it,” she expresses. “But we are always changing around the aesthetic inside the salon to bring something fresh for our clients to look at.”
Cast Salon & Spa
5355 E. High Street, Suite 101, Phoenix
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