After nine months in business, Salon Cheveux & Spa, at 25 N. Main St. across from the courthouse, has racked up both a Brick Award for Most Improved Interior and a Best in The Boro award as "Best Spa/Salon."
"We've been grateful, and I'm really surprised myself with this team that we have here," said Jason Youngblood, partner and master cosmetologist, "and every time I turn around, people from downtown Statesboro are popping in, showing the place off, giving us compliments and recommendations. That's not really anything that we've asked for, just things that have come our way."
Youngblood and longtime friend Tim Broxton are equal owners in the salon, but Broxton's day job is as a manager at the local Verizon store. They opened the salon Oct. 1.
The Downtown Statesboro Development Authority presented its Brick Awards to several businesses and organizations earlier this month. Although the awards are given annually, Most Improved Interior isn't always one of them.
This corner location in one of downtown's historic storefront blocks was a Subway restaurant years ago and more recently a florist's shop. Youngblood and Broxton are leasing it.
For five weeks before opening the salon, they and other members of the salon's nascent staff were joined by friends and relatives who helped renovate and decorate. Youngblood discovered that beginning business owners can get a lot of done this way if they treat volunteers to lunch, supper and words of thanks. In some cases he also traded services, such as hair appointments.
"We worked hard for that month and a week," he said. "It just about beat me, I'm not going to lie. But it's very rewarding to have done the work yourself and see your vision come into being."
The improvised crew tore out layers of wallboard, wallpaper and plaster to reveal the brick walls. They built some new interior walls and painted the salon's backdrop teal, an accent color that now carries through from the stylists' dressers to the cushions in the front seating area.
They also painted those dressers, which were bought used in various places. Since the backdrop wall has been covered over with rustic boards, the teal only peeks through and isn't overpowering. The owners obtained half the salvaged wood from a Clito resident who had it from an old barn or similar building. The thinner slats came from a house that was torn down in Statesboro, Youngblood said.
So the salon interior exhibits raw wood in the back, exposed brick on the sides and a corner of glass admitting sunlight up front.
Some of the ideas were Youngblood's and some Broxton's, Youngblood said. His friend and customer Sonya Johnson, a retired teacher from Twin City, helped a lot with the design and purchasing materials, Youngblood said.
Professionals from Whitfield Signs provided the logos and signs.
"Modern chic, maybe," Youngblood said when asked what theme he was after. "I didn't want it to be too modern. I didn't want it to be too antiquey. I wanted it to kind of be a nice blend."
Although the Brick Awards are given different category names, participation in improving downtown is the common element, said Allen Muldrew, Downtown Statesboro Development Authority executive director.
Salon Cheveux & Spa requested no financial incentives or other formal assistance from the DSDA.
But the Salon Cheveux team regularly appears at downtown events such as First Fridays, the Mainstreet Farmer's Market and the recent Staycation promotional "representing our business, being seen and heard and passing out business cards and just being part of the community," Youngblood said.
The DSDA, meanwhile, has repeatedly shown the salon as an example of what can be done downtown, Muldrew confirmed.
"And that's what so great about it," he said. "We didn't have to tell them to do something creative. They came in on their own, which is really what you want. You want people to have a passion for their own business and their own interior look, their own exterior look, and take ownership in it, and that is what we really loved about them."
Services & people
Youngblood and stylist/colorist Melissa Bunn obtained their cosmetology diplomas at Ogeechee Technical College. That's also where Youngblood's cousin Tori Fields, who works part-time at the front desk now, is taking cosmetology classes. Fields is slated to join Salon Cheveux as a stylist after graduating in December, Youngblood said.
After graduating from OTC in 2009, Youngblood worked briefly at the since-closed Exotic Tanning & Hair and then for almost four years at Salon Bella Vita on North College Street before starting work on his shop last year.
"Salon Cheveux" is simply French for "hair salon." The salon offers a range of styling services for women and men and haircuts for children.
"Spa" is part of the name largely because of services provided by Cristen Brinson, a licensed massage therapist. She does three forms of massage: Swedish, Rossiter and myofascial. Brinson also performs the skin-care procedure known as a sugar scrub.
The shop has Tuesday through Saturday hours.
"We strive to make it something different, that Statesboro hasn't had," said Broxton.
That, he said, applies to both the shop's design and its services.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.