Success, says Todd Miller of Chez T.J., is proving to be a double-edged sword. He and his wife, Julie, opened their salon in a small Folsom strip mall barely two years ago when they moved up from San Jose’s Almaden Valley to start a family. They chose the location with the area’s growth (including neighboring El Dorado Hills) and high-end demographics in mind. Business has taken off with such force that the shop is already in expansion mode. The current remodel will nearly double the floor space, up the number of stylists’ chairs from 10 to 14, and create working space for nail and permanent-makeup techs. “Most businesses fail in the first year,” says Miller, a former finance guy for Hewlett-Packard. “The fact that we can expand—and the business can pay for it—is exciting. On the other hand, it’s a little stressful.”
Miller runs the business side of Chez T.J. while Julie works on hair and trains up-and-coming stylists. Their mission? To create a comfortable and fun atmosphere where their clients can feel at home. “The soccer mom’s got a couple of hours to get her hair done. She needs to relax and have fun. This is her break,” Todd says.
Chez T.J., 1012 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; (916) 983-9878
Hoshall’s Salon & Spa
Bill Hoshall’s name has been synonymous with high-end hair care since 1964. That was the year when—fresh out of beauty school—he opened the doors of Salon Royale in Foothill Farms. He has owned more than a dozen salons in the area since then and is presently down to two: the Carmichael shop, in its 20th year, and the 4,700-square-foot Folsom store, which opened four years ago. Hoshall’s wife, Joyce, is an interior designer, and the décor of the Folsom salon is nothing short of breathtaking, with its stone floors, artful furnishings, water wall and other feng shui-inspired elements. An outdoor deck overlooks a lush, green space and provides a secluded sanctuary for guests of both the spa and salon. The Folsom salon boasts a higher-end clientele than its Carmichael counterpart, largely comprising corporate professionals and San Francisco and L.A. migrants. “They seem to seek us out,” Hoshall says. “There’s a lot of high energy and creativity here.”
Hoshall did part of his own training overseas, working at salons in Germany and studying at Vidal Sassoon in London in the 1970s. He puts an emphasis on continuing education for his staff; his focus is clearly paying off. In 2002, Salon Today magazine named Hoshall’s Salon & Spa among the nation’s 200 fastest growing. It also has been singled out in Harper’s Bazaar and several other national magazines.
Hoshall’s Salon & Spa, 6608 Folsom Auburn Road, Folsom, (916) 987-1995; 7330 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael, (916) 485-4941; hoshallssalonandspa.com
McKinley Park Hair Co.
Now this is the place for those who prefer their salons on the unpretentious side. Tucked into a nondescript shopping center just a few blocks east of its namesake green, the McKinley Park Hair Co. has been an East Sacramento fixture for more than a quarter century. Bill Howard and George Agajan took the place over from a fellow beauty-college classmate in the late 1970s. “A comfortable, safe place to get your hair done” is how Howard describes the low-key venue. The salon is divided into nine private rooms, so “you don’t get everyone butting into your conversations,” he explains. The McKinley Park Hair Co. also sticks with what it knows best: hair. At a time when other salons are adding or beefing up spa services, Howard, Agajan and their colleagues prefer to keep things simple. “There’s an enormous amount of overhead with spas, and [a necessary] amount of square footage,” Howard says. “It’s just never been something we’ve looked at.” The narrow focus clearly suits the MPHC clientele just fine. “Most of the people we do are a little like us,” says Howard, himself the father of three. “They go to work. They come home. They have families. We’ve grown up with a lot of their kids. The neat thing about us is that we’ve just been here forever.”
McKinley Park Hair Co., 3604 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 451-3373 or (916) 451-3451
James Mark Salon
“I really felt that Elk Grove needed a little something more than what they had,” says hairstylist James Barrow, explaining why he and his wife, Jillian, decided to open their own salon in this ever-expanding southern suburb. The sentiments of a Bay Area metro snob? Hardly. Barrow was raised in Elk Grove; his wife, an aesthetician, grew up in Sacramento. After a decade working for others, they’ve carved out their own comfortable niche of slate and earth tones in the heart of Laguna, centrally located near the Target shopping center on Laguna Boulevard.
The majority of the customers at James Mark’s salon and spa are between 20 and 40, and either at-home or working moms, Barrow says. In fact, he and his wife have a toddler of their own and a second child on the way, and Jillian works part time. Still, the standards are as high in Elk Grove as anywhere else in the region, according to Barrow. “Our clients expect us to have the latest cuts, the latest colors and the latest fashions,” he explains. “And they expect us to know what they are.”
James Mark Salon, 9105 Bruceville Road, Elk Grove; (916) 691-2000
J.C. Allen employs more than two dozen beauticians between her two salons, and counts just about as many distinctive styles among them. “We have amazing talents. Everybody brings so much individuality, yet we all come together to make a beautiful picture,” she says, explaining why she chose the name Mosaic when she opened up shop on Howe Avenue in 1996. Each salon projects a different vibe, with Howe Avenue tending toward cozy and elegant. In contrast, the high-ceilinged midtown Mosaic—launched in 2000—is more “hip and high-energy,” as she puts it. Earlier this fall, the midtown spot served as ground zero for the first Face of Mosaic contest, a model call and photo shoot that proved such a success that Allen plans to make it yearly. The Face for 2005 will be chosen from among 45 hopefuls coiffed and made up by Mosaic staff, then photographed by Sacramento’s Bill Santos. Allen and her crew also recently took part in an episode of the national program “Ambush Makeover,” which airs locally weekdays on KXTV Channel 10.
Allen shuttles between her two salons and finds it impossible to pick a preference. “It’s kind of like with kids: I prefer the one I’m at,” she says. “They both feel like coming home.”
Mosaic Salon, 2700 J St., Sacramento, (916) 558-2700; 1111 Howe Ave., Sacramento, (916) 929-1111; mosaicsalon.com
A color job, a cut and blow dry and a plate of fresh-baked cookies? That’s what’s on the menu at this East Sacramento salon with the comely brick façade. Brenna Meko opened Salon Cuvée in 1997 and has catered to an affluent customer base, largely made up of working professionals, ever since. “We deal with women who earn between $50,000 and $100,000,” explains Meko’s general manager, Renée Alexander. “It’s important for them to be able to look professional at their board meetings, yet tone it down for the weekend.” That mix could easily describe the salon’s ambiance, as well. With its low ceilings and palette of yellows and blues—and a selection of wines and beers—the environment is an inviting and comfortable one for clients, whose own attire run the range from business suits to workout togs. Yet all come in with a common goal, Alexander notes. “Even in the lean times, when the economy is lower, all women want to have their hair done,” she says. “You want to look pretty. You want someone to make you feel better.” That doesn’t mean Salon Cuvée is for women only. Au contraire. “The wives send the men in all the time. It’s that whole metrosexual thing. Men care just as much as we do about their looks,” Alexander says. Haircuts: $48 and up.
Salon Cuvée, 4601 H St., Sacramento; (916) 452-4600
Smack dab between trendy and “old school.” That’s how Janet Bracamonte describes Milam’s, the Placer County outpost she has owned for the past 17 years. Situated in a Bel Air shopping center, Milam’s caters to a broad demographic range, from families and Sun City retirees to bridal parties and the prom-bound. That calls for some degree of versatility among Bracamonte’s staff, which includes herself, seven other hairstylists and a nail technician. Hairdos range from shampoo-and-sets to “the avant-garde,” she says. One stylist is particularly expert in what Bracamonte calls “mall color”: chunky weaves with bright colors, a current favorite with the high school crowd. Even some of Milam’s male customers are gravitating toward hair coloring. “It used to be more on the sly,” Bracamonte explains. “Now they’re more comfortable with it; they’re doing it right in the salon.” Milam’s offers a central location, between Citrus Heights and Granite Bay, with regular clients coming in from Lincoln, Marysville and Sacramento. The salon also recently underwent a remodel, moving toward a French country motif and a black-and-burgundy color scheme.
Speaking of wine, Bracamonte and her staff occasionally let their own hair down, serving wine to clients in the evening. Once in awhile, stylists and their dinnertime customers will order out for sushi. But don’t look for the “day-spa thing” at Milam’s anytime soon. Space is at a premium and, Bracamonte adds, “I still have more of the working people here. They want to get in and get their hair refreshed. They don’t want to spend all day at the salon.”
Milam’s, 1200-C Cirby Way, Roseville; (916) 786-5355
Rowena & Takashi
Stylist Rowena Hiraga makes no apologies for the $125 starting point at her one-woman salon. After all, she says, a visit to Rowena & Takashi is more than a haircut; it’s a time for renewal. “In the beauty industry, people come to the salon to make themselves look beautiful,” she says. “I believe it goes much deeper. It is my job to have someone remember they are already beautiful.” Hiraga and her husband, Takashi, opened their business five years ago when they moved up from Los Angeles to be closer to family. In Southern California, Hiraga taught for Vidal Sassoon. She continues to teach at area beauty colleges and salons, both as an instructor for Davines, an Italian hair-care line, and as a consultant with her own company, RT Solutions Network. That wealth of expertise is how Hiraga justifies her prices. She calls her haircuts “impeccable” and, more important, designed around a sound structure that enables her clients to achieve the same look at home as when they leave her salon. The hour-long appointment is infused with what Hiraga describes as “five-star touches,” from pressure massage during the shampoo to hot towels and aromatherapy. The décor at Rowena & Takashi is simple and modern, reflecting the couple’s Asian heritage: She’s Filipino; he’s Japanese. The color scheme is carried out in shades of greens and browns, a nod to the natural surroundings around the business-park setting. A wall of windows looks out over the trees. “I call (the salon) a bridge, a bridge for someone to get the message they are looking for,” Hiraga says.
Rowena & Takashi, 4989 Golden Foothill Parkway, El Dorado Hills; (916) 941-9171; rowenaand
From the palm trees that flank the entrance to the bright colors and tribal masks inside, Zimbali brings a touch of South Africa to this trendy Placer County salon and spa. Partners Shelley Hefner and Traci Fermer-Denny opened their doors in June 2002, capitalizing on the area’s remarkable growth as well as on their own lengthy tenures in other Granite Bay salons. Denny, an aesthetician, came up with the African theme, inspired by the name Zimbali, which is Zulu for “valley of the flowers.” Indeed, the salon’s interior features exotic plants and leopard print, as well as fountains and the heady smells of aromatherapy. Zimbali caters to a mix of soccer moms and business people, says Fermer-Denny, whose husband, Michael, is the general manager. Couples often come in together, especially for massage and other spa services. And when it comes to coloring, weaves rule the day. “There are a lot of ‘blondes’ out here,” Fermer-Denny says with a laugh. Haircuts range from $27 to $32 for men, $47 to $52 for women.
Zimbali, 4067 Cavitt Stallman South Road, Suite 100, Granite Bay; (916) 771-8900; zimbalispa.com
At SOOHOO Salon, Neill Soo Hoo and his staff are all about teamwork. One stylist checks you in. Another shampoos. A third takes charge of color, and the fourth oversees the cutting process. “I think that’s what makes us really unique: our ability to take care of a tremendous amount of clients,” says Soo Hoo, whose own roster of regular comers tops 400. “You’ll see that collaboration in bigger markets.” In fact, he imported that practice when he moved to Sacramento from Southern California 15 years ago. SOOHOO Salon, located in The Conservatory building next to Loehmann’s Plaza, is his second local salon, and opened its doors in 1997. Haircutting, color and makeup are the sole choices on the menu, and all take place in an odor-free environment devoid of the smells associated with perms and manicures. The salon also is regional in scope, drawing many of its clients from Folsom, Davis and Granite Bay. “We’re a destination,” explains Soo Hoo, who attributes his success to his high standards. “When I started this, I wanted to be one of the world’s best hairdressers. I didn’t want to be one of the world’s best salon owners,” he says. “I was tired of going to work where they ran out of toilet paper, or the bills didn’t get paid, or there weren’t supplies or you were running out of color.”
SOOHOO Salon, 2425 Fair Oaks Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 484-7644; soohoosalon.com