Hairdresser Hali  

Local salon owner enjoys makeup artist life  

Story by Rebekah Yancey  

Photos Contributed  

Photo by Blushing Garnets Photography

When she was 17 years old, Hali Rhea Gurley was always the one who did her friends’ hair and makeup for formals, proms and dances. It started slowly for the junior in high school, but soon she was the unofficial makeup artist and hairstylist for as many as 15 people in a day.  

She said it was then she knew it was time to act on her life-long dream of going to school to pursue her cosmetology license. Now Hali, 26, and her mother, Stacey Gurley, co-own South of Main in downtown Hartselle and have specialized in wedding and event hair and makeup on the side for seven years. The mother-daughter duo has owned the salon on Sparkman Street for two years.  

“I do a lot of trials and run-throughs during the week, and I usually do two to three weddings every weekend,” Gurley said.  

She comes from a long line of women who are involved in the industry: In addition to her mother, Hali has three aunts who are also hairstylists. “I’ve always been around it and wanted to do it,” she said. “I never really thought I would, but here I am.”  

Photo by Brittnay Caden Photography

Gurley said she averages 80 weddings a year. Her largest bridal party had 23 women including the attendants and family members. She has had clients from various backgrounds and cultures, and she said she has enjoyed being a part of each one.  

Photo by Hali Rhea Gurley

“They’re all very different, and I feel like I get put in situations I would have never been familiar with otherwise,” she added.  

With a background in pageants, the mother of one said she is seeing the structured, pinned-back styles of the past go by the wayside. In the same way weddings overall are becoming more relaxed and minimalistic, in turn, hair and makeup trends are following suit.  

“I don’t know if it’s more so related to the COVID pandemic or just the shift in priorities and families wanting to focus on what’s most important, but I’m seeing a lot of micro weddings,” Gurley said. “Even dresses – I used to see a lot of big ballgowns, and now everything is sleek and slimming, very minimalistic.”  

Gurley said her favorite style to do for brides right now is the relaxed, undone, bohemian look that is so popular.  

Photo by Leslie Hollingsworth Photo

A few of Gurley’s weddings have been featured in Alabama Wedding Magazine – an accomplishment she calls a highlight of her career.  

“I love getting to travel to different venues every weekend and work alongside some insanely talented artists. I love getting to travel to new states all while meeting new people,” she said.  

Photo by Madison Martin Photography

“Being able to go to the beach for a weekend while working a wedding and taking my family on a trip is a dream,” Gurley added. “Seeing different cultures through work and art and witnessing firsthand how people’s personalities shine through on their big day is one of the best parts of my job.  

“I would have never thought this Southern girl from Alabama would have gone as far as I’ve gone.”  

Gurley can be found on Instagram @hairdresserhali. 

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