Mischa Golebiewski, or simply Mischa G., is a sought-after hairstylist whose creative talent has been featured in national campaigns for Olaplex and Eva NYC, fashion magazine editorials, and fashion shows in Paris and Milan. But don’t call her a celebrity stylist. Inspired by the LGBTQIA+ community and the fashion-forward looks celebrated in alternative magazines like Flaunt and Nylon, his personal aesthetic represents individualism and diversity. “Sneaking into drag clubs as a teenager totally shaped my life,” she said.
Mischa is not just a thoughtful hair magician, she has used her success as a stylist and educator in the beauty industry to address the sensitive nature of assertive non-binary haircuts and those seeking a change before or after they leave. That, combined with more than a decade of frustration working for a cutting-edge salon and beauty brand-turned-corporate, was the impetus for the opening of the Treehouse Social Club in November 2020, a salon, event space and an art studio under a restored early 1900s tin roof in Manhattan. East village.
When the pandemic hit, Mischa was self-employed and legally unable to work. It has become the opportune time to plan his next move. “I didn’t want to go back to a salon and wanted to be in a social atmosphere with the flexibility to do wigs, do photo shoots and travel when it was safe to do so.” When the city reopened, it planned a haircut pop-up, but the location fell through. Mischa learned that a closed restaurant space was available for rent. “No one wanted to take over a dilapidated restaurant during the pandemic, so I was able to negotiate cheap rent over the next 5-10 years.”
She started her business with personal savings and credit cards, and received help from a COVID-19 EIDL. With the help of his friends, they got to work with the renovations. The factory she once had at her station, which she says got her fired from her old job, inspired the name of the multipurpose space. It also represented the prejudice-free environment Mischa envisioned, which she describes as an “indescribable gay vacation.” Unlike some salons that favor a minimalist aesthetic that can be cold and corporate, Treehouse Social Club looks a lot like its owner who has bright yellow hair and dresses in bold multi-colored prints. “I wanted Treehouse to be light and airy, which meant there were no black chairs or black dresses. Our customers wear colorful silk robes.
The playful feel of Treehouse Social Club is more than a personal design choice. Mischa wanted to foster an environment that celebrated diversity and expression, and felt like a haven of peace. “I’m part of the queer community and a lot of my friends are drag queens. I wanted people to feel comfortable and accepted in part by sprinkling gay culture everywhere,” she said. The front door is a one-way mirror that gives customers privacy while they have their hair done. A 1940s bamboo bar is stocked with rosé and piña coladas, outdoor furniture has been brought indoors, portable bar cart stations and a large outdoor area evoke the holiday vibe. “As a trans woman, I sometimes get very nervous about going to a salon, but Mischa has really created a safe space for everyone,” said client Kiwi Louis.
Treehouse Social Club’s clientele grew organically from Mischa’s involvement in New York’s nightlife and gay club scene and, unsurprisingly, didn’t require traditional marketing or public relations to attract people. In fact, she points out, the salon doesn’t even have a sign outside. “People find us through word of mouth. I have incredibly well-connected clients who often post on social media,” she said. People looking for a different experience while getting a haircut are drawn to Treehouse’s loyalty and inclusiveness. Client Allison Ponthier said, “Cutting my hair after coming out was a brave step in regaining control and acknowledging my autonomy. Even parents are booking hair appointments for their non-binary and gay children.
As an educator and community builder, Mischa believes in sharing ideas rather than competing. “There are many smaller women-owned salons in the East Village that I share clients with. She plans community education days at the smaller salons and partners with other women-owned salons and homosexuals to create an educational network and a platform for assistants to train in various salons, promoting community rather than competition.
As an event space, Treehouse has mirrored its doors for birthdays and anniversaries, product launches for beauty and hair care brands, and an open mic night. She plans to add comedy shows, yoga and wellness nights, including acupuncture in the garden, to their schedule.
Treehouse also offers fair prices by renting space to other hairdressers instead of having a shared commission. “I am their owner, not their boss. They have full control over their own schedules. And when someone joins Treehouse, she focuses on her own brand of trauma therapy, retraining stylists to stop apologizing.
“Some salon settings can be traumatic and abusive,” she said. “My goal is to help reshape the industry.”