Ode to Salon 9 feat. Justin Kamm. And no, this is not a song I wrote.

This post has been a long time coming. I mean a loooooong time coming. In fact, I’d argue that it probably should’ve been one of the first posts I’ve ever published. I’ve talked about my hair stylist and the salon I go to quite a few times, but let’s face it- I owe a lot to Justin Kamm and his home base at Salon 9.

Salon 1

In the summer of 2006, I needed a change. I’d been going to the same salon and same stylist as my mom for all my life. It hadn’t been bad, but I just felt like I wasn’t owning my hair. And perhaps I felt like I just wanted someone closer to my age managing it with me (not that this stylist was particularly old or anything, just a difference in generation). So a friend recommended Salon 9 to me, and she recommended the name of a female stylist there that she liked. I called, tried to book said stylist (and I’ve completely forgotten her name- she may not even be there any more), but she was unavailable. And so I was offered an appointment with Justin at the salon instead. BAM! Destiny.

Salon 2

The salon changed locations from an awkwardly-located shopping strip near some train tracks to the incredible Old Town Orange area in Orange, California around over two years ago. I can’t emphasize how enviable Salon 9’s spot is compared to where they were, but what really blew my mind was that the salon moved just as I was, in fact, moving to Orange too. BAM! Destiny. It couldn’t have worked out better. I’ve also watched the salon transition from one that relied on Bumble&bumble products (overrated, in my opinion) to the lesser-known lines of Arrojo and Davines. I’ve loved that the salon has sort of gone off the beaten path recently and taken on these extremely effective product lines as their mainstays. I’d been reading about Davines in various magazines for some time but could never find their product anywhere. Now I know where to find the whole line, five minutes away from my home. I am all about the Oi Absolute Beautifying Oil (works better than MoroccanOil) and the Momo conditioner for dry hair these days. In the future summer days I’ll probably be looking into the SU Sun Oil when I want to condition it as I lay on the beach.

Salon 3

Salon 4

For the past coming-on-seven years I’ve relied on Justin as my “hair mechanic”, as I call him to my friends. He fixes things. He improves things. He suggests things. He says when I don’t need things. He says when I do need things. He makes my hair such that I receive compliments from others. And the most awesome part of it is that he executes it all with precision and professionalism. I know that word ‘professionalism’ can seem a bit stuffy and distant, but I use it because Justin has continued to invest in his education and trade over the years. He instructs at workshops, attracts crowds at conventions, and is garnering more and more attention as his relationship with Davines has grown. He and a fellow hairstylist recently developed a start-up called LoveTHECraft, a creative space meant to encourage stylists to come together and share their visions, learn from one another, and be creative in a profession where it sometimes can be a lot more mundane than the average folk (like myself) would think. Oh, and he has a family. And he just Instagrammed a picture of his homemade stuffed portobello mushrooms. So basically, he isn’t any I-mindlessly-cut-your-hairs-and-then-I-go-home-and-derp-around stylist. He’s got serious chops, and if you’ve ever liked anything about my own hair whether in cut or color, you can credit that to Justin. Oh HAYYYY, Justin!

Salon 5

I know I spend money on makeup and skincare (though not as much as some of you may imagine), but there are ways that I can justify cutting corners and saving a buck in these areas. The same goes with clothes. However, I never have a problem forking out for the cash for my hair at this place. Ever. You wear you hair every day. It’s the accessory that you can’t take off and will still be there where you’re sixty, so invest in it. I will say, however, that what I’ve been consistently charged at Salon 9 for cut, color, and styling has been extremely reasonable when I’ve compared it to other rates. I don’t want to name an exact price because I don’t want to create particular expectations for other possible clients that may take in more expensive services, but let me insist that whenever I’ve revealed to my friends how much I pay for hair services, the most common reaction has been eyeballs popping out of their sockets followed by, “That’s reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally goooooooood”. I mean it. And I ask around to compare, too. I’ll put it to you this way: At a different salon, I got charged more for a blow-out than what I’ve been charged for a blow-out and color at Salon 9. And no, I didn’t get this blow-out done by Chris McMillan in Beverly Hills (and just so you know who he’s responsible for…). I got it done at a salon in the same city as Salon 9, which happened to be open on a day when Justin doesn’t work and I was feeling adventurous. It’s a high price that Frodo had to pay for adventuring off to Mordor, and it was a high price I paid for that little adventure of my own. Frodo and I should’ve known better.

IMG_0007

I can’t encourage you enough to visit this place in you’re in the Orange County area and if you’re interested in cultivating an awesome head of hair (or heck, get your butt out here even if you’re in Delaware … WORTH IT.). And of course, I also can’t encourage you enough to ask for Justin when you do visit. It pays off to invest in your local salons and invest in a stylist, because have no doubt- it is their job to make you look your best, it supports the free enterprise of individuals, and they invest in you. xo, MR

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