A new hairdo can change your life, and nobody understands that better than Jason Krejberg, co-owner of Salon Helmet in Montreal on legendary Avenue Mont Royal. Jason and his salon chronically rock the top of the “Best of Montreal” guides for best hairdressers and salons in the city. If you’re looking to feel like a new and improved you, Jason’s your man. We caught up with the BC native, who now calls La Belle Province his home, to find out what hair products he’s currently obsessed with, how he got his start, and where he spends his time in the city that sleeps whenever it feels like it. Vive le Montreal!
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
I’m a pretty laidback guy from BC. I fell into hairdressing by accident. I was in interior design school, and I dropped out because I didn’t like how solo it was. I was just working at this coffee shop, and there was this salon – a 1930s art deco salon called Axis in Vancouver, and I loved it. It was all 1930s art deco. I had a friend who worked there, and one day we were going to meet up with some people he worked with, and the artistic director was doing a huge photo shoot. All the juniors were there preparing this hair piece that they were using the next day. One of the girls asked me to help, and the artistic director asked me if I wanted a job. I thought I’d take the opportunity. I loved it because I got to be creative and work in a beautiful salon, talk to people and listen to music. I didn’t know how long I’d do it for, but it grew from there.
How did you end up in Montreal?
The salon in Vancouver was very strict with a Vidal Sassoon background, which means a lot of clean lines, solid technique, etc. I ended up moving to Toronto because I wanted more excitement and art in my life and was craving more. I started working at Coupe Bizarre, which was the exact opposite of what I was used to. It broke all the rules but still had a very strong technique. I dropped cutting and picked up colouring and even relocated to the Montreal Coupe Bizarre. Eventually, I started missing cutting. I still had all my tools and went to Vidal Sassoon and did all the cutting classes and opened up my own salon with my business partner, Melanie, so we could do our own thing. I wasn’t able to cut hair at Coupe Bizarre, and I had my own vision of what I wanted to do.
Why did you choose to open Helmet on Avenue Mont Royal?
The location is central. It’s around where we live, and our lives our very half English, half French. We live right where the city sort of splits in English and French. It’s everywhere where we live our lives – near Mile End, near Rosemont, near the Old Port – you’re smack in the middle of everything.
What inspired the name Helmet?
The name Helmet has two meanings. One is that a helmet protects you. It’s a loose reference to that feeling that when you get a haircut you feel like you can do anything and you have some type of armour and that you can conquer the world and that you’re protected by your new haircut because it gives you a boost of confidence for a first date, wedding or whatever. The other reference is that your hairline is the same on men and the same on women. It has nothing to do with helmet hair. There’s a comedic side to it, too. We wanted to have a name that wasn’t as serious as the other salon names we’ve heard.
What is your favourite product right now?
There’s a new one for men by Shu Uemura called Yokan. It’s for guys who have really fine hair, because you can’t use putty as it weighs hair down. If you want hair to feel full, a putty won’t do that. What’s cool about Yokan is that it’s light, and it has grit, and it also makes your hair feel thicker. That’s what I’m using right now, and I love it.
What about your top product for women?
Shu Uemura Absolute Essence is amazing for women’s ends. It seals them and makes hair smell super nice and gets rid of the dryness without being heavy.
What is your favourite restaurant?
Casa Tapas in Montreal. When you go there, it has a really nice Barcelona-esque atmosphere, the service is great and, depending on how many tapas you order, they bring them in a certain sequence. If you want to stretch an evening out to celebrate or go on a date, it’s perfect.
What’s your favourite cocktail and where do you get it?
There’s a new bar in Montreal, which is kind of a secret bar. It’s called Big in Japan Bar. It doesn’t say the name outside. It’s right by Patati Patata (on St-Laurent and Rachel). My favourite cocktail there is called the Abbe, and it has rhubarb and tequila.