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Stylist Katie McCaskill gives stylist Tyla Goings a "French Kiss" blowout, which is characterized by a great deal of bounce and "fun curls." Photo by Niki Kottmann.
Black Tie Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2016 2 years ago

New business ready to blow beauty-lovers away

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Blow La La pampers clients with a new way to get ready for a night on the town.
by: Niki Kottmann Managing Editor of Arts and Entertainment

There’s a new bar in town, and it has the potential to change the way people start an evening out.

Instead of cocktails, this bar offers a different type of indulgence — blowouts. This popular hair styling technique includes a wash and condition, and makes use of a round brush and blow dryer to ensure that clients are “photo ready” before they leave.

Blow La La recently opened its doors as the only standalone blow dry bar in the Sarasota area that focuses exclusively on blowouts. Owner Kimberly O’Connor says she hopes to change the way Sarasotans prepare for the city’s busy event season. Located in Midtown Plaza, around the corner from Michael’s On East, its opening this summer marked an important moment for the local beauty scene.

Stylist Chavie Carpenter gives her client a "St. Armands" style blowout. Photo by Niki Kottmann.
Stylist Chavie Carpenter gives her client a "St. Armands" style blowout. Photo by Niki Kottmann.

Blow dry bars are popping up in cities across the U.S. and becoming a hot trend for people who want the luxury of having their hair styled using a method that will hold for two to five days.

O’Connor has never owned a business, nor does she come from a cosmetology background, but after spending 25 years as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines, she says she knows a thing or two about customer service. Every treatment at Blow La La includes a two- to three-minute scalp massage, plus champagne, wine, or whatever beverage keeps clients feeling pampered. O’Connor has also equipped each bar chair with purse hooks and outlets for clients to charge their phones — and she has extra chargers for anyone who forgets one.

“I think that’s why blow dry bars have become so popular,” she says. “They’re so convenient and easy. There’s no fuss. You just come in, enjoy yourself, zone out on a little TV and have a little ‘me’ time.”

Owner Kim O’Connor says that before being introduced to blow dry bars, she hated blow drying her hair and had it in a ponytail constantly. Now she rarely wears her hair up. Photo by Niki Kottmann.
Owner Kim O’Connor says that before being introduced to blow dry bars, she hated blow drying her hair and had it in a ponytail constantly. Now she rarely wears her hair up. Photo by Niki Kottmann.

O’Connor says that she wanted to create an elegant, upscale establishment that served as a fun alternative to a salon. After visiting a blow dry bar in her previous home of Boston, she was surprised to find there was nothing like it in Sarasota. Determined to change that, she spent a year researching and concluded that Sarasota was the perfect market for a blow dry bar.

“We’re a little slow sometimes to get on trend,” she says of Sarasota. “But we have a lot of trendy people.”

The establishment differs from a typical salon in that it only offers blowouts — avoiding the packed appointment schedules and long treatments common of traditional salons, especially during season. The niche model offers close attention to detail, and clients are typically in and out within 45 minutes. With the added option of makeup treatments, they can leave ready for an evening out.

Chavie Carpenter is a stylist at Blow La La — or one of the “La Las,” as they like to say — who says that more people are choosing not to wash their hair every day. As it becomes trendy to opt for dry shampoo instead, blow dry bars are becoming a popular option for a wash, dry and style that’s quick and easy. O’Connor notes that they have repeat customers who never wash their hair — they just come in every week and have the stylists do it for them.

Blow La La includes ten chairs at its "bar," which O'Connor made sleek and elegant in order to create a "fun vibe." Photo courtesy of Kim O’Connor .
Blow La La includes ten chairs at its "bar," which O'Connor made sleek and elegant in order to create a "fun vibe." Photo courtesy of Kim O’Connor .

At Blow La La, nearly every blowout is $40. From its signature “St. Armands” soft curl look to the straight and sleek “Parisian,” option, O’Connor offers each look at a flat rate regardless of the client’s hair thickness, length or texture, which isn’t always the case at many salons.

Its technique is also different in that, unlike most salons, the stylists pin the hair up after they brush each section. O’Connor says that it’s “all about the round brush,” meaning that stylists can sometimes rely completely on the blow dryer and brush without having to use any hot tools.

As season nears, O’Connor says she hopes to become the new go-to place to get ready.

“For me, this is always going to be about more than just the blowout,” she says. “It’s about the experience, from the moment you walk in the door until you leave.”

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