My Week: Cowshed Chicago's Ashley Byrd


The head esthetician at Cowshed Chicago keeps her team on the cutting edge of beauty trends.


'Under-27 members go half price on Monday, so it's busy. I show up early to check supplies and then pull a double shift; 10 straight hours in the spa doing facials and waxing. It's a fun time to catch up with clients and hear about their latest work drama, or how the big proposal went down, while we cleanse. I love how they trust me with their skin and as a friend.'


'We also get a lot of regulars on Tuesday, when there's a member discount. I feel a bond with many of them. One lady I've been seeing since we opened five years ago was depressed because she and her husband couldn't conceive. But last year it finally happened. I remember her walking in, crying with happiness. Clients can be vulnerable with me in the spa. It's intimate.'



'Social Wednesday, as we call it, is pretty cool. We lay out our vinyl collection and let clients pick the soundtrack. Also, there's free wine with any service - so, as it happens, this is usually the day I book myself in for an after-work pedicure or bespoke body treatment. I'll enjoy a Prosecco and maybe put on Back to Black by Amy Winehouse.'



'A lot of my role is training. We have to stay on top of new products and treatments. Basic stuff, too, like making sure we ask about allergies or medical conditions. Also, checking the team know the Cowshed way of doing things, so the client has the same experience with us that they would at, say, Babington House. The girls teach me stuff too, like new massage techniques.'


'By the end of the week the hotel is fully booked, so we do a lot of parties. A group of seven might come in for a baby shower or a birthday, and it'll be the one time all year some of them visit a spa. So we make sure to bring our A-game.'



'I'm a mom of two - my boy is 7 and my daughter is 3 - and weekends are my time with them. Saturdays we might go for walks or to see a movie, which is quite expensive when you let them choose snacks, I'm discovering. I also check in on my own business, a quaint little spa in the suburbs. That's very Chicago, by the way: the side hustle.'


'It's chill. I wear pyjamas until the afternoon. I might do some technique videos to grow my social. And I do my biggest cleanse of all: the house. There's Barbie's and Lego everywhere.'

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Interview: Andy Hill
Photography: Christopher Hainey

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