Beauty Launchpad is spotlighting the winners of its Top 20 Salons contest for 2024.
Here, Maria Elizabeth introduces us to Salon deZEN in Alexandria, Virginia, founded in July 2007.
Beauty Launchpad (BLP): What is the backstory of your salon? What motivated you to start your business?
Maria Elizabeth (ME): The motivation and intention behind the opening of Salon deZEN was and still is a strong desire to be a conscious business that embraces inclusivity, diversity and eco-friendly practices, all while creating individualized salon experience for our guests to help them express their most authentic selves. Ultimately, we wanted to create a business that works for everyone, a little ecosystem that leaves people and the world a better place.
BLP: What was the most challenging thing that happened while opening your salon?
ME: The most challenging part of opening deZEN was navigating all the permits needed to open and take occupancy. There is a lot to know and so many things to learn along the way. You just have to keep an open mind to learning and growing in new ways.
BLP: What is the overall aesthetic of your salon? What inspired you when designing the space?
ME: Our salon's aesthetic can be summed up as neon and nature with an artist studio vibe. I wanted our space to inspire creativity in stylists and clients alike. You will see some of my original art works on the walls to cultivate that vibe. We have lots of bright pops of color mixed in with living plants throughout our space to create a relaxed yet uplifting mood. Our clean white walls brighten the vibe and don’t interfere with hair color tones. We also have dividers that we created for COVID that we actually ended up loving since they enhanced a more intimate one-on-one experience with stylist and client.
BLP: What services do you provide your clients? Are any of these services signature and/or exclusive to your salon?
ME: We offer a variety of services, including fashion forward cuts and colors, extensions, non-surgical hair replacement, makeup, updos and facial waxing. We are really known for helping people discover, create and recreate their style so that their look evolves with them. Behind our front desk is a pink neon sign that says “Change the world by being yourself.” This is a reminder to our clients that celebrating individuality can change the world.
BLP: What products are used/retailed in your salon? Do you have a personal favorite?
ME: We use and retail high-quality products such as Kevin Murphy, Innersense and Curl Cult to name a few. A personal favorite is Fresh.Hair by Kevin Murphy.
BLP: What makes your salon unique and stand out?
ME: What sets Salon deZEN apart is our commitment to eco-friendly practices, such as participating in SalonCycle, utilizing Vish to reduce color waste and using Eco Heads to lessen our water use by 65%. Our clients can also fill up their shampoo or conditioner bottles at our refill bar, and by doing so, reduce the amount of new plastic in the supply chain. We are also committed to embracing diversity and equality all while engaging with our community and supporting local charities. Based on these principles, The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce awarded us Best Small Business of 2023!
BLP: What takeaway do you hope clients have after a visit at your salon?
ME: After a visit, we hope clients leave with a sense of relaxation, confidence and an uplifted sense of self.
BLP: What piece of advice would you give to a new salon owner?
ME: Advice for new salon owners: Stay true to your values, nurture a positive culture and find a mentor or two to help support and guide you on your journey. Plus, find stylists who embrace your values and culture.
BLP: What’s next for your salon? Do you have any goals for the year?
ME: This year, I had the honor of being selected for the Golden Sachs 10k Small Businesses program. This transformative experience allowed me to sharpen our focus and define our goals for the future. We're poised for expansion with plans to open a second location and introduce exciting new service offerings. Simultaneously, we're committed to nurturing our emerging talent and seeking like-minded stylists who align with our values and culture.