Blowout Junkie, a Chicago trend and blowout bar, presents the perfect model of a salon that knows the fashion world and draws on it with every look styled.
The fashion world might seem far off for everyday clients, but to Blowout Junkie owners Nicole Karkalis, Tina Pawlak and Dora Stojka, the runways influence the look of every client. These sisters decided to open a space in Chicago that would be on top of the latest looks, more often seen in New York and Los Angeles than in the Midwest. They’ve done this by creating a salon culture that values fashion.
“We bring fashion into the salon as much as possible because fashion and beauty go together so well,” Karkalis says. “In our dress code, we wear black, gray, denim, white—the staples. But each season, we bring in an element from the runway. This summer we wore mint green and baby blue because pastels were really hot. Last winter, we went with merlot because that deep red was everywhere.”
Head stylist and manager Christi Gonzalez says many clients ask her what she thinks color trends will be for the coming season.
Although the team might not have that level of insider information, they do have contacts in fashion cities to keep them on top of what celebrities, “it girls” and fashion bloggers are wearing. These looks are then communicated to an in-house trainer that ensures all of the stylists are educated on how to master the trend.
“Hair, makeup, fashion—they’re all from the same world. The salon should be the place where they come together.”—Christi Gonzalez
They have also developed a working relationship with personal style experts and fashion/beauty consultants Shanna Lakin and Jade Port (sister of The Hills star Whitney Port). Lakin and Port head Blowout Junkie's social media marketing through their personal styling, personal shopping and closet organization company, shadowStyling. (Follow @blowoutjunkie on Instagram for daily hair inspo.) Port’s sister Whitney, visits Blowout Junkie once a quarter, and the stylists have fun coordinating styles with her clothing line. This attention to synchronizing clients’ hairstyles with their clothing is a key part of every consultation.
“You should be able to change your hairstyle to coordinate with each outfit you wear,” Karkalis says. “It creates a whole, complete effect.”
Blowout Junkie places great emphasis on education for its stylists. iPads are available with digital subscriptions to top fashion magazines, and stylists are encouraged to study up.
“As stylists, we also try to stay on top of award shows and TV shows that our clients are watching,” Gonzalez says. “Then they can come in and say, ‘Did you see how Kim Kardashian wore her hair?’ and we can offer to recreate that look.”
This attention to pop culture and fashion icons keep Blowout Junkie stylists on top of the ebb and flow of everyday trends.
“Last winter, we went with a look where the hair on one side is pinned or braided back and then cascades across the other shoulder,” Karkalis says. “Cara Delevingne wore this half-braided style at the Met Gala, and everyone went crazy for it.” This summer? It was all about the half-up topknot.
The owners describe the space as a trend bar, instead of a blowdry bar, because they want clients to know they won’t walk out of the salon in a dated style.
“Hair, makeup, fashion—they’re all from the same world,” Gonzalez says. “If you value one, you value them all, and the salon should be the place where they come together.”