A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and its local founder wants to bring fancy hairdos to Los Altos’ ladies.
Stylists at Halo don’t cut hair, they just clean what you’ve got and style it sleeker, smoother and (often) with a little bend to the ends. Halo’s menu of five basic hairstyles ($40) ranges from the high-volume, high-curl “Glamorama” to the sleekly simple “Give It to Me Straight.” The shop also does event hair and updos and specializes in any take on “beauty from the shoulders up.”
“I like to look put together and healthy,” founder Rosemary Camposano said. “Women are maintaining a youthful look longer. We spend thousands on our faces, and then pull hair back in a ponytail. It’s the frame for your face – it should look pretty.
Bringing her business to Los Altos had become a cause for Camposano since before Halo first started in Palo Alto in 2010.
She ran afoul of downtown’s zoning restrictions when she tried to open her business on Main Street. Like nail salons and barbers, blow-dry bars are among the service businesses blocked from coming to the downtown core as the city tries to encourage dining and retail.
Camposano bided her time, and then jumped at the opportunity to acquire a space yards from the exclusion line. Halo is located at 355 First St., just across the street from Draeger’s Market.
“I’ve seen the city change more in the last four years than in all previous years combined,” the 18-year resident of Los Altos said. “You didn’t use to feel compelled to come downtown.”
These days, she added, people “want this to become the center of their shopping life.”
While she waited for a Los Altos location, Camposano opened her first Halo in Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village and then expanded to Menlo Park and Burlingame.
“We’ve been opening in or near lifestyle centers,” Camposano said, noting the evolution of the modern shopping district, with increasing focus on being a nice place to spend time beyond basic transactions. “You can shop for everything online now, so businesses are very mindful of what people can’t do over their computer.”
The secret life of women
Before starting Halo, Camposano studied the “suburban village” and pondered the flow of women downtown. Chores, a personal errand, a meal with a friend – she was interested in the secret life of women, the banal daily tasks that they didn’t necessarily discuss but which they crammed into every day. After more than 20 years working in the technology market, Camposano had taken time off to raise her son and developed a fascination with women’s logistics.
“As a stay-at-home mom, you go without washing your hair for days at a time at first,” she said. “When you come out of it, ‘OK – I’ve got to pull myself together.’ That includes skin, hair, nails and fitness.”
Squeezing personal grooming into parenting life – and before, after and sometimes during that parenting – or work life, women crave as much personal grooming as they can finagle.
“I don’t do it to be glamorous, I do it to feel put together,” Camposano said.
Tricks of the trade
The blow-dry bar draws on a secret known to women of the “Mad Men” era – with the right products, styled hair can keep for four or more days. Halo’s value proposition rests on the idea that investing $40 in a ’do on Monday may carry you through the workweek.
This beauty regimen requires some tricks of the trade. A hairband has to draw back your locks before nighttime face washing, and a shower cap protects the product from water during showers. Add a round brush, dry shampoo and a blow-dryer for touch-ups, Camposano said, and you’ve got a system that precludes the need for frequent, time-consuming morning styling.
As a physical space, Halo shoots for an airy, clean effect – it’s a limited service space with no aroma of nail polish. Camposano has added facial waxing and makeup to augment hair services over time. In addition to tending to their manes, clients can get subtle makeup ($15), a full-day application suited to a serious meeting or photo shoot ($35) or full-on event face paint ($45) that’s set to last into the wee hours.
The stylists at Halo work as employees of the company rather renting a chair, Camposano said, which means that they don’t have to compete for clients or worry about making a living wage as they start to build clientele. Blow dryers drop down from the ceiling, which is gentler on stylist’s bodies (as well as an intriguing visual effect).
When Halo opens next week, Camposano said she will offer two days of complimentary blowouts to first-time customers. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, visit haloblowdrybar.com.
Halo Blow Dry Bar readies new Los Altos location - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier