Named after the wisest of Greek gods, this Brick Lane beauty spot is clearly a labour of love. As a pro make-up artist, founder Aleysha Mawani realised she was constantly sharing her cosmetic know-how with friends and family. Her solution was to dream up Athena, a salon-cum-beauty school, where visitors could learn the tricks of the trade while getting dolled up for a night out. Months hunting down the perfect East End location, not to mention hours trawling the internet to source the fixtures and fittings, have paid off. With exposed brick walls, quirky guilt frames and a red lip-shaped sofa that’s straight out of The Sims, it’s cool, welcoming and unashamedly girly– the sort of place your pre-teen self might have dreamed of owning as an adult.
As cheery and chirpy as any Youtuber, Aleysha’s enthusiasm is backed up by experience on editorial shoots and TV commercials. She’s taken the looks she’s constantly asked for – the smoky eye, a classic red lip, or Kardashian-esque contouring – and broken them down into step by step lessons, which take place in the sleek, white classrooms downstairs. The menu of classes available is exhaustive, covering everything from catwalk make-up to vintage-inspired hair styling. Prices start at £100 for the two hour contouring masterclass, with longer courses aimed at professionals starting at £350.
For those after a quick fix before a night out or fancy event, the ground floor salon is a double threat, offering styling and makeovers at reasonable prices (a blow dry or makeover will set you back £30.) If you’re really taken with your new ‘do, you can practice your best ‘blue steel’ in the back room photographic studio.
All in all, it’s a colourful addition to a beauty landscape dominated by big brands and high street mega-chains – and a welcome reminder that getting ready should be half the fun.
188 Brick Lane
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