For the love of the cut

By Posted on Apr 13 2020 | By

Note: This article was published before COVID-19

A dream fulfilled at Salon Lou

Lori Nicholson loves making beautiful. Always has always will. Nonetheless, it took a dozen years and multiple short careers before she locked down on what her heart had been telling her all along.

Today, a legion of fans is thankful—and looking great—that she found her way out of passionless jobs and onto the stage of beauty.

Since the age of 18, she had wanted to pursue a cosmetology career, but her father felt otherwise as parents are often wont to do. His vision was “Nurse Lori” and very reluctantly she went off to nursing school at age 20.

“I became a nurse but never did anything with it and subsequently majored in computer information systems in college,” says Nicholson.

“I then went to flight attendant school, opened my own home inspection business, did real estate appraisals, helped take a company public, and other jobs along the way. None of which I pursued.”

By her late 20s, she came to the realization she could not shake her passion for hairstyling. It was not only the artistry of professional haircare that attracted her but the gift of confidence and pleasure she could bestow on women and men seeking to look their best.

After a dozen years and seemingly a dozen false starts, lightning struck. “I sat down one day and asked myself what did I really want to do? I came back to my original desire to do hair. I said, ‘I’m going to do this.’”

For the next four and a half years, she learned the art and skill of hair care at two Warrenton hairstylist shops. Slowly the idea of opening her own salon began to crystalize. She envisioned what a client would seek in such a venue.

“I wanted a beautiful place with certified and well-trained hairstylists educated in their craft and devoted to ongoing education to maintain and build skills, and having no pretensions in dealing with clients.” She chose the name Salon Lou because her nickname was Lou Lou.

To bankroll her dream, she withdrew savings, sold stock, and bet the farm on her long-held dream. She located an attractive retail space at 147 Alexandria Pike, Suite 102, and began building it out as a high-end salon.

The realization she had invested everything in her vision scared her. The Sunday before her Monday opening four and half years ago, two clients knocked on the door of the salon eager to make appointments.

“They said they had to make their appointments right away even before we opened the business. I said to myself, ‘Yep, we are going to be just fine.’”

Weeks after the opening, the salon was still receiving congratulatory bouquets of flowers from clients thrilled she had opened her own business. There was no marketing of the salon. Word of mouth drove the company forward.

“The response was incredible. People were so happy for us. I would go home at night and cry with joy at the success of the opening.”

Staff & Trends
Today the salon is staffed by 14 stylists with decades of cumulated experience. As she envisioned, her team continually updates their skills by participating in classes and workshops and attending salon shows learning about the latest hair products, tools, and equipment.

Nicholson says women’s hairstyles today are trending back to the 70s and 80s. “Women are going back to dressing their hair by curling or using products to enhance texture.” It’s no longer just letting hair fall naturally and doing nothing with it. In the past, natural curls were straightened but today she sees clients who want their hair treated to create curls
“Big hair is back,” a trend she sees as continuing and accelerating.

Men’s styles are also changing. Facial hair continues to increase in popularity. Formerly there was less grooming of beards and goatees. Now clients are using conditioning products and mustache waxes.

Hairstyles have gone from old school banker to a more relaxed look. Among younger men, there is an emerging interest in modified mullets. The cut is a hairstyle that was popular in the 80s; short on the front and sides and left long at the back. What goes around comes around.

In addition to hairstyling, the salon offers all manner of nails, lashes, tinting, and waxing services. Prices range from $37 to $50 for men’s haircuts and $125 for women’s cut and color treatments. The full monty can go as high as $500 for that seriously special occasion.

As proof of the success of Nicholson’s dream, the appointment books for her and her experienced male stylist alone are booked into January. But with her depth of staff, walk-ins are accommodated wherever possible.

Further proof of the shop’s success? In 2016, Virginia Living Magazine voted it the #1 Northern Virginia salon.

After years of searching for what she wanted in a career, Nicholson has found it. “I am so proud of what I have created here. But I couldn’t have done it without my team. I’m proud of everyone here”, she says.

“And I’m so grateful for the way the community has supported us.”

For a guided tour of all things Salon Lou, visit http://www.salonlou.com/

Published December 2019 edition in the Fauquier Times,

Categories : HAGARTY TALES