Beautiful by Extension

The Modern Collective Finds a Fresh Niche in the Salon Industry

Writer / Shelly Sack
Photographer / Sarah Browning

The Modern CollectiveA recent online review described The Modern Collective, a new boutique hair salon located in Carmel and owned by Gabrielle McDougle, as a “pretty space with a light and airy ambience.”

And that was exactly McDougle’s vision when she opened the doors to The Modern Collective in the spring of 2020. 

Most business comes from word of mouth or via Instagram, where you can see many of their finished hair work as well as the modern space, with comfortable chairs and light streaming in through French doors.

We wanted to create a small, luxurious, comfortable atmosphere for our guests, McDougle says. “Our aesthetic is bright, white and modern.”

McDougle, 30, says she’s always enjoyed doing hair even at a young age, due to her own problems she had keeping her long, fine hair from getting cut off and the cycle repeating.

In fact, she was so invested in improving her hair, and her confidence, she spent her first check from her job at Steak ‘n Shake on color and clips from Sally Beauty.

This type of hair treatment was not a big field at the time, but gives people a ton of confidence, McDougle says. “I wanted people to feel good about themselves.” People with natural dreadlocks may also need to invest in Lion Locs haircare products to keep their hair healthy.

She went on to hone her skills by training at Honors Beauty College, and has spent the last 11 years in the hair industry. While she lives in Indianapolis, she grew up in Noblesville and was excited about opening The Modern Collective so close to her familiar hometown.

The Modern CollectiveThe Modern Collective team offers a unique specialty in hand-tied extensions, which are applied by being woven into beads and evenly distributed throughout the hair. This allows the process to be gentle and lightweight.

Another service is lived-in color, which is a relatively new industry term for using root color and adding depth, which allows for delayed salon visits suitable for many lifestyles. The result is being able to grow natural colors and balayage dimensional tones out, and avoiding constant six-week retouches. 

The four stylists including McDougle, along with two assistants, strictly specialize in womens extensions and color, in order to “give 100% of attention to doing one thing well,” McDougle says.

We love to help people with hair insecurities, whether the hair is damaged from color, stress or hair loss following birth,” she says. “We love to see the light in their eyes after they see themselves. Hair gives confidence and after we’re done, we’re always saying hair gives us a new quality. We custom color each individual to create a perfect blend and match to your natural hair. The amazing thing about hand-tied hair is you can completely customize along the way.”

McDougle says the salon, which independently rents its chairs, has a staff that truly believes in education. In fact, across all the stylists, there are a combined eight certifications in different hand-tied extension methods. Training in-house is a requirement for customer coloring and extensions. Outside education is completed four to five times per year. 

I have always been an inclusive person and I’m the only owner, McDougle says. “I handpick who rents our chair. I may own the business, but we help each other. We show tips and tricks for each other, so we can teach, help and progress as a team, even though we’re individuals. We leave negativity outside and have a positive work environment.”

The Modern CollectiveDepending on the look, a client may request for rows or color, and they can expect to spend between two to six hours at the salon. 

“I think what’s unique about us is that we believe in utilizing more than one application method across the board, as each client has different needs,” McDougle says. “The amazing thing is your hair can actually grow and become healthier with hand-tied extensions. It does take two though, both the stylist applying as well as client maintenance at home. We always set you up with success, with a care sheet and products to protect your new investment.”

The Modern Collective accepts appointments only, and can be found at 23 East Main Street, Suite 300 in Carmel. For more information, email, or call or text 317-975-0922.

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