Behind Bryony: Designing Our Hair Salon & Yoga Studio

Community is one of our core values at Bryony & Birch. We live, breathe and work hard for the betterment of our town and loved ones. We turn to our network to help us grow our brand, stock our shelves, hire talent and in this case – design our spaces.

Today we’re sitting down with Hillary Mateev, the architect & designer behind our beautiful salon space in Amesbury and yoga studio in Exeter and founder of Reading, MA based XP Architecture & Design.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Talk to me about the Bryony & Birch space. How would you describe the “vibe” of the Bryony & Birch salon interior?

Katie came to me with a vision for Bryony & Birch as a place that had a naturally comfortable vibe that reflected her eclectic taste. She wanted to make a living room where people wanted to hang out, listen to music and stay.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

What was a design challenge you encountered and overcame in the space for the salon?

In any salon, there are certain processes that need to happen in a very specific progression: check in, consult with the stylist, get your hair washed, go back to the chair and begin a cut, etc. Because the Bryony & Birch space is very long and narrow, we were presented with the challenge of making every element of the client and stylist’s experience work seamlessly.

So here’s what we did: we used an extremely long countertop to accentuate the length of the space. We carved out a quarter of it to use as a private area for the staff to do their color mixing and keep their personal belongings and kept the rest of the counter going through to the end of the space and turned it in the front to create the reception desk. Using this subtle move of the continuation of the counter through these areas allowed several different areas throughout the space to be defined and also connected. It also ended up creating a very natural path for the clients to pass through to their stylist’s chair, after they checked in with reception.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Can you share something that inspired the design for the salon interior?

The founder, Katie, was the inspiration for the salon. We wanted it clean lines, easy to maintain, and neutral to allow for the details and items for sale to pop with color.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Now let’s talk about the new Bryony Body space in Exeter. What were some challenges or goals that you had to keep in mind throughout the design phase?

Bryony Body was a totally different animal. That space and layout were existing and we had less resources and time to work with. Instead of renovating, we just wanted to refresh the space and tie the Bryony & Birch brand and colors into it. The name of the game in designing the Bryony Body space was reusing the colors we had used previously in Bryony & Birch and adding a layer of small design elements that reflected the vibe.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

What is one of your favorite design elements of the Bryony Body space?

I really enjoyed working with Katie on picking subtle artwork that perhaps could have multiple interpretations. We worked hard on cleaning up the space in terms of providing benches and cubby holes where the patrons could keep their belongings during classes or procedures.

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Can you tell us a little about your own design business and how you help small businesses with interior design and architecture?

I am currently undergoing an exciting new phase in my career. Using the experience from my previous companies and the success I had working on my own, I have agreed to merge with another firm, to take on the leadership and am in discussions on future ownership with my mentor and colleagues at Ruhl | Jahnes.

I have been in the business of architecture, exhibit design and interior design for around 20 years and my main purpose is to help to create meaningful experiences with space, to tailor the surroundings to better match the inhabitants. I do large and small scale work, but keeping in mind how the space and items within the space are used. I also understand that these places need to grow and work for the users, by evaluating what you do now and what you hope to do in the future.

You can view Hillary’s work and business at 

Photo Credit: Kate Donovan Photography

Take a deeper look behind Bryony

👉 Learn how to plan a photoshoot with our go to Amesbury photographer, Kate Donovan.
👉 Bryony Body: Meet your yoga instructor, Jessalynn Hudgins
👉 Meet the entrepreneur, hair stylist and yoga instructor behind Bryony: Katie Cavic

woman with camera in leather bag

Behind Bryony: How to Plan a Branding Photoshoot

Create a color story

Keep your brand color palette in mind from the start. If you don’t have a style guide, upload your color palette to a program like Coolors or create a Pinterest board and share it with your team, so that everyone is on the same page about the colors that should be in the shoot. Trust us, you don’t want a random orange pillow getting in the way! Keeping your color palette in mind, select a couple outfit options that Keep the new brand color palette in mind for all of the shot details. All backgrounds should be light, neutral and minimal and any pops of color should be either a matching shade of blue, dusty rose, or a simple plant.

Choose a venue and time of day that fits your vibe.

If you’re going for a natural and organic vibe, you’ll want to find a photoshoot venue that has big windows and a lot of natural light. If you want the lighting to feel soft, and not contain too many harsh shadows, be sure to chat with your photographer ahead of time to discuss the best times of day for the shoot.

Did you know that at Bryony & Birch, we have a photo studio that’s ready and equipped with everything you need? Check out The Space at Bryony and email for more information and to request your dates.

Help your web designer out: consider photo orientation.

When shooting for a website, a landscape or portrait view works, as long as there is plenty of blank space surrounding the subject… aka, you! That space allows your web designer to add a text overlay on the photo, which gives an open and elegant feel to the website.

Make a shot list

The best way to show up prepared for the big photoshoot day is with a shot list. This is a list of every single photo that you want to make sure to get in your allotted time. If you want certain outfits and/or props for certain scenes, make sure to mark them down! And if you’re shooting a team, make sure to map out every headshot or group shot needed. It can get hectic with a ton of people, so having a list will ensure everyone gets their photo taken.

Photoshoot tips from a photographer

We sat down with our resident photographer, Kate Donovan, to ask her for some tips for branding photoshoot success.

What kind of creative direction do you need a business owner to prepare ahead of time for a branding shoot?

We typically have a creative meeting and create a mood board, discuss props and attire to bring prior to the shoot.

What should someone wear for a branding shoot?

Bring options! For a 1-hour shoot, I encourage clients to bring 2 options, one casual and one more formal. For a 2-hour shoot, we can shoot 2-4 looks. We discuss brand colors and what to stay away uncomfortable clothing prior to the session.

Is it better to do a branding shoot outside or indoors?

We definitely try to utilize both. We make the most of our time by planning ahead, changing outfits and location during the shoot. So lucky to be located right downtown Amesbury and often utilize brick, cobblestone, and downtown backdrop!

Last tip: have fun!

Photoshoots are one of those very few adult moments that make us feel a little bit like a rockstar. Have fun with it and dive in fully. Get your hair, nails and makeup done (we can help with that!) And maybe bring a bottle of champagne (or two!) and make a special playlist. Keeping the vibe fun and lighthearted will make everyone feel comfortable and when everyone is feeling good, that’s when the best photos are taken!