Xandro Canales and Sergio Morales, co-owners of the Volume Social Club, the unexpected hair salon perched above Paulie's in Montrose. (Photo by Leah Wilson)
The lavender door is the only sign indicating entry to Volume Social Club hair and beauty salon. (Photo by Leah Wilson)
The Volume Social Club where Sergio Morales and Xandro Canalas do their hair magic. (Photo by Leah Wilson)
The wash room at Volume Social Club is purposely dark for client privacy. Artwork on the ceiling is a special Sergio Morales touch. (Photo by Leah Wilson)
The art-lined stairway that leads to the second floor Volume Social Club salon. (Photo by Leah Wilson)
Detail of the Volume Social Club salon in Montrose (Photo by Leah Wilson)
While his career as a hair stylist began in a mall salon at age 16, Sergio Morales’ epiphany that led, almost 30 years later, to his discreet second-floor lair in Montrose began with an article in W Magazine. It described Madonna’s dislike for the buzzy hair salon of her favorite stylist. Avoiding the salon fray, she followed him to his third-floor walk-up for privacy even though it meant having her hair washed in the kitchen sink.
“It spoke to me back then,” Morales says as we sit at an antique table in the back of his salon, tucked away above Paulie’s on Westheimer. “I want to do that, I said. I want it to be really private . . . That’s why not having a sign has really worked for us because there’s not going to be a ton of people in here.”
Some might say that Morales has taken that notion to an extreme. The salon, Volume Social Club, has no sign. Only a lavender door reveals entry to the art-filled stairway of the salon where Morales and co-owner Xandro Canales hold court with a bevy of social brahman.
“We’re running it like a New York City pop-up restaurant,” Morales quips. “It’s like 1834 Westheimer with the lavender door. Reservations 100 percent required.”
The stylist’s journey from Visible Changes in First Colony Mall to his own salon began at Urban Retreat, which at the time was the pinnacle of pampering for Houston’s grande dames. The in-house chef, the valet parkers, the multitude of services and the gilded gift bar were a jolt to the 18-year-old’s sensibilities.
“A chef, are you kidding,” he recalls. The year was 1999, the same year that Urban Retreat sold $3 million in gift cards at Christmas, and Morales was hired as assistant to none other than uber stylist Ceron.
There could not have been a better education for Morales.
Going to Ceron School
It was Ceron who had to explain to the uninitiated teen stylist that the scars he was seeing around the hairline and behind the ears of clients was not some sort of cult ritual but the signs of facelifts. It was also Ceron who introduced Morales to the delicacies of client management, as in keeping two antagonistic blondes from being in the salon at the same time.
Once the young man had his wings, he exited Houston for two years working in New York. On Morales’ return, he joined Therapy Hair Studio, alining with owners David Bamford and Luis Perez.
“Those kids gave me the drive to do more. They work hard. They play hard,” Morales says. “And they like to spend money.”
In 2014, he rejoined Ceron, working for six years in the Uptown Park location and expanding his field of clients.
“I love Ceron Hair Studio but I knew it was time for a change,” he explains. “I love the guy and I loved working there. But it was time to go.”
And when it was time to go, he fell back on that concept born from years back.
“I started at Visible Changes when salon malls were really cool. Then it went into large day spas. Then it went into hair studios,” Morales says. “And I honestly believe that the future of beauty is going more private.”
The Perks of Volume Social Club
He and Canales opened the Volume Social Club in March of 2020, which meant an almost immediate closure due to COVID-19 safety protocols. Last June was the first full month in business. As Morales suspected the intimacy of the salon, though it isn’t small, has attracted both female and male clients who prefer privacy and serenity over buzz.
“We’re running it like a New York City pop-up restaurant. It’s like 1834 Westheimer with the lavender door. Reservations 100 percent required.” — hair stylist/owner Sergio Morales
“Honestly, I feel like I do better work here,” Morales says. “There’s no pressure to earn respect by how much money you bring to the table. I can slow down and just concentrate on the art of what we do. It has definitely worked out for us.”