Slipping into colorful kimonos prior to getting their hair refined and reshaped by Jamie Leonard at the new Blossom Atelier, patrons can’t help but sense they’re figuratively about as far away from Supercuts as is humanly possible.
“I always thought it was really boring to wear ugly smocks,” reasoned Leonard, who has handled the tresses of Sienna Miller, Matt Damon, Charlie Rose, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. She teamed with longtime friend, client, artist and art collector Gilena Simons in creating the 1,200-square-foot location on Main Street in Santa Monica, Calif., that’s part salon, part antiques resource, part art gallery, part vintage clothes shop, part beauty product destination and part almost everything else. “The vision encompasses a lot,” Leonard admitted.
No matter the merchandise or service — Leonard’s prices run from $175 for women’s cuts to $275 or more for balayage — the binding agent at Blossom is a decidedly chill approach. A native of Santa Cruz, Calif., she spent seven years at the San Francisco salons Posh and Mike Page Style Lab prior to moving to Los Angeles nearly four years ago to work at the now closed Jeffrey Kara Salon and Sur Mer. She is adamant about escaping the pressure and anxiety that’s often on turbo blast at other salons outside of Blossom.
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“Jeffrey was amazing, but it was the wrong vibe for me. I wanted my clients to experience peace in the chair. I want them to feel special and like a queen. You get two hours with me, and you get my full attention,” said Leonard, adding about Blossom, “I would like it to be known as a place where you can take a break. We are all running around on a hamster wheel, and we should slow down.”
In a second-floor loft, Blossom is installing Somadome meditation pods, and Leonard encourages customers to do what they choose to unwind. “Upstairs, it’s a wellness area. If you are a client and waiting, you can go and lay down up there,” she said. “My clients are all about relaxing. Sometimes they sit in here and just color.”
Although Blossom nurtures a stress-free atmosphere, the hair cutting and coloring are serious endeavors. Leonard is sought after for color correcting and perfecting blonds. Braiding and loose beachy waves are specialties, but she’s been known to scissor some pretty sharp shags as well. Her clientele crosses genders, ages and professions. She cultivated Silicon Valley-types from her stint in San Francisco and has been embraced by the L.A. entertainment community, too.
“A lot of my guy clients are musicians. I don’t do the typical Venice hipster. I’m a little more edgy. I get a lot of long-haired dudes,” relayed Leonard. Turning to her take on hair color, she continued, “I love natural looking color, so you kind of can’t tell.” Leonard uses products from the hair-care brands Oribe and Davines. She does makeup for $250 and her makeup kit contains the brands Josie Maran, RMS, Chanel and Laura Mercier.
Leonard met Simons a dozen years ago at Posh. “She gave me the best bang cut I’ve ever had and the friendship just blossomed from there,” said Simons. Earlier this year, Leonard was again doing Simon’s hair and started talking to her about an idea she had to sell clothes online. Leonard recounted, “She said, ‘Oh my gosh! I’ve always wanted to open an antique shop. We should do it together.’” Leonard thought about it and agreed to the partnership. “Having a studio on your own is hard, and this is a way to help fund it,” she reckoned.
Retail is in Leonard’s roots. Next to her salon chair is a framed article about Ethel’s, her grandmother’s vintage store in Santa Cruz. Leonard praised her grandmother for caring about what women wanted to buy, and inspiring her passion for retro items and fashions. “She wasn’t the warmest lady, but I fondly remember her turquoise chairs, eclectic art and costume jewelry,” Leonard recalled. At Blossom, there’s an old salon chair that harkens back to days when Santa Cruz shoppers frequented Ethel’s.
Several weeks after Simons and Leonard discussed embarking on a business together, the pair signed the lease on Blossom’s existing location. The landlord hadn’t had much luck with a smattering of concepts in the space, but had it ready for another try. He put reclaimed wood from a Korean ship on one wall, while the opposing wall featured contemporary stone tile, giving the interior a welcome mishmash. Simons and Leonard quickly went about making the place their own. Simons displayed her elaborate dollhouse creations intended to reclaim childhood memories, and Leonard brought in classic hair accessories. “People off the street say it feels like home in here,” Simons said.
The store-salon combo is named after a baby name Leonard had in mind for the daughter she doesn’t have, at least yet. “If she’s born, she’ll already have a store named after her,” Leonard observed. A huge fan of the Nineties-era television show “Blossom,” she connects the moniker to inner strength. Of her and Simons, she said, “It means you keep growing for the better, and that’s so us.”