Arabella Salon

The trick about Arabella Salon on NE MLK in Portland is finding it. After heeding my excellent advice and making an appointment to see my girl Alex, I typically give friends directions that sound something like this: So it’s really hard to find, it’s pretty much a door, and there’s some graffiti around, and maybe it’s by an alley? But like, just look for the geese on the wall and then go through the door and walk up these stairs and open the door and you’re there.

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See it there? On the left?

Even though it can look a bit sketch from the outside, especially in the dark ass Portland winter, this salon quickly confronts its diffident exterior the moment you walk through the door and start up the steps.

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Taken from the top of the stairs looking back at that plain old gated door. Not bad, right?

And the charm doesn’t stop with that partially exposed brick, red walls, or chandelier either. The inside is equally absorbing with giant windows set against more exposed brick lining the front looking out onto MLK and only a handful of stylist chairs and no receptionist, the salon lends an inviting feel as if you’re supposed to be there.

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Notice – the wine, the adorable stylist stations – unique to each stylist and all with incredible vintage charm, and back there behind the shampoo bowls is where you enter.

There is a small waiting area in the center of the salon with comfortable couches and always updated magazines. And like I said, there’s no receptionist and no need to check in since all of the stylists there run their own show and know most of their clients by sight. And if you’re new and yet to get to know them, take comfort in the fact that they will know you on account of your newness, because regulars are so common – they will know you’re there for them simply on account of being a new face showing up at the appointed time.

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Photo Credit: Portland Mercury

There is also a very small jewelry case and art on the walls that rotates the wares of local Portland artisans – all of it for sale. It is a nice contrast to some salons that throw any old crap in their retail areas hoping just to make a sale. It is clear Arabella attempts to pick artists they think their clients might actually enjoy while also remaining very discreet about their showcasing.

I love this salon, it’s true, but I wouldn’t have ever discovered it if it weren’t for my girl, Alex. She is incredible. We met years ago when I worked as the receptionist at the Aveda salon where she got her start. And … Whatever I don’t need to say anything else about her other than she has phenomenal style, almost all of it mined from thrift stores, and has been doing my hair for … going on 5 years now?

She loves what she does and strives to stay educated about her craft, so even after 5 years, her methods and techniques for styling have evolved and I’m always really thrilled and proud of her when she shows me some weird new French technique she recently picked up at one hair show or another. Plus, she is just really fucking genuinely nice and sweet. And a total goofball.

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Alex being gorgeous.

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Alex showing off her effortless style.

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Alex getting drunk with yours truly.

So Arabella. It’s fucking awesome. And oh yeah, it’s stupidly eco-friendly of course, so you know, if you’re from Portland and obsessed with that like we all are by some sort of default of living here – then don’t fear. They even won an award for it. Read about their rad reputation here.

They were recognized as the winners of the Davines Premier Eco-Salon Contest. They were chosen over thousands of applicants in a world-wide competition and it’s no wonder why when you look at the list of green practices they promote in their salon (see link above).

Also can we just talk about Davines real quick? This is their primary product line and it’s embarrassing to admit, but I have no qualms about spending $25 each on a bottle of shampoo/conditioner. When I go back to my old school less expensive, but always all-organic stuff, I can feel the difference. So of course last night I splurged again on the good stuff.

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I’ve also used their “LOVE” shampoo/conditioner and I well, loved that too. Get it?

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Their hairspray is also the best. And I got a sample of this OI oil, but shit man, I wish I could have afforded an entire bottle last night. Smells SO good. Is SO awesome. Next time.

Oh right, ok, so should we look at my hair now? I started to lighten up my ends. That’s it. That’s what I did. But it’s a start to a process. I guess looking back on my hair post, I realized that while I might change it slowly, I still change it. And so I suspect 9 months from now, we will be looking at a whole different color of hair on this head.

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I like it, I like it, I love it! After all that fucking obsessing, I left a very happy customer. As always. Because Alex and Arabella seriously do so much to make me feel that way.

xoxo, Lou

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Hair Neurosis

I am totally neurotic about my hair. Whenever it comes time for me to get my hairs did, I fucking obsess over it. I obsess over what I could do and what I want to do and what I actually will do and then ultimately, I never feel like I end up doing anything that earth shattering. And I’ve totally written about this on the site too. Probably multiple times. Cause I’m seriously crazy about my hair.

When I was younger, I did crazy shit with it I suppose – relatively speaking. Manic Panic was where it wast at. I usually went with this dark, dark red color… probably now what they call “Vampire Red”, which is the stupidest name ever.

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God. Remember this shit? Sometimes I would stray into purple and I used the blue once too. Like, one of the first times I ever got really underage drunk. That was fucking ugly and disastrous.

After the teenage allure of Hot Topic trips to pick up hair dye ended, I started working in a salon and of course because it was cheap as shit, I was in a better position to be more experimental with my hair and it was total fun and games. Until I graduated college  of course and wanted to get the hell out of dodge and decided to end my 4 year tenure as the best fucking salon receptionist ever and realized that my discounted $10 product charge hair colors sessions would now be upwards of $150 hair color sessions for the shit I was doing to it and therefore had to ask my favorite colorist to arrange it so my natural would grow back in seamlessly because with all my new student debt, I was in no position to move across the country with no job and splurge on hair color. … God that stylist was such a good colorist. I miss her. But the point is, I wasn’t doing jack shit with my hair anymore and that was fine … for awhile.

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This is me and my sister, at a bar of course, with our natural locks. You can see they’re very similar. Probably about … 22 here.

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Mad Natural. And oh yeah. I worked on a dude ranch and eating jell-o shots straight from the pan was NOT a one time thing.

So anyway, of course I got bored with that after awhile. And I got bangs. And then I chopped it all off. And then I dyed it practically black. And I made a really excellent Snow White:

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That little timeline there amounts to the riskiest thing I have ever done with my hair. I know. It’s not even THAT crazy.

But that’s not surprising because I have pretty boring style, but … point is … I think I obsess with my hair because I always think I want something crazy, but never know what it is and therefore never end up doing anything about it and that is really annoying.

So I’m wondering what to do today. It’s been kind of fun growing it out and rocking a middle part and all of that, but I really want to stay away from anything too close to that time when it was au natural. And so I’m having a hair block.

So what do I do? I gave a shout out to my homegirl today on Instagram because she rocks a really crush-worthy ombrè:

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But I’m sort of undecided if I want to go that route. I’m telling you, I want everything at once. And this always just makes me go middle ground, which is completely the wrong approach.

Eventually, I would really like to go copper/red, so do I start that process now? What do you think? Maybe you can tell me … I ask you to pick out shoes for me, so might as well ask for your brilliant ideas on my hair. Because sometimes it just feels like all I want is someone to make these decisions for me. So if there are any stylists out there reading this … your 2 cents would be appreciated.

As it is, I’m going to walk in to see my poor stylist, Alex, tonight who has to deal with this indecisive shit on a 2-3 month basis and tell her I don’t know what I want, but I want something different, and just make sure I still look hot.

Oy, poor girl.

I’m kind of thinking next time, I should just get really wasted and put a stop to any hair inhibitions … this could also be a disaster. See: blue hair story above.

Either way – I’ll post pics tomorrow. Show you what Alex comes up with 😉

xoxo, Lou

(ADDENDUM: I’m still obsessing. Literally, I just posted this and thought, wait, do I really want something different or do I just want to maximize a look that is bangin on me??? Seriously, I want to punch myself in the face too.)

The Price of Partying

I need a makeover. Unlike SweetBird, I’ve spent the last 5 years in Portland taking advantage of the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable, and at times even encouraged, to show up to work or a nice dinner not only looking hungover, but actually feeling like you might pass out, throw up, or both.

With the exception of Hangover Hotness (It’s a strage phenomenon, does it ever happen to you? It happens to me and my sisters quite often. You somehow get your ass to work after a night of too many whiskey shots, look in the mirror, and realize, damn! I look good! I’ll try and document the next time this happens). 

So with that being the exception, lately, I typically feel totally gross, stuck in a rut, and like I could be doing way better. I’m bored and sometimes disappointed in how I put myself together these days and how it might effect how I look later in life. I like to party, what can I say? And I’m good at it. I’ve always gravitated toward things I have a natural aptitude for, and partying is top of the list. But, point is….

I want to look more like this when I get older:

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And less like this:

Someone has sex with this.

Problem is, I’m pretty sure I spend more time these days partying like Keith Richards. Which is why I’m embarking on a new quest to take some preventative measures. Ultimately I just want to FEEL better. Fuck yeah I want my skin to glow. And my hair, well, if you don’t know already, I am obsessed with my hair. It’s not ok for me to hate it, but lately I do. Cause it’s looked like some variation of this for the last three years:

I’m growing it out right now best I can, but as you can imagine, this makes me throw it up in a bun every morning as I curse the mundanity of it all. (I thought I was making that word up, but true story, it’s a real word). Anyway! Point is, I feel BLAH. Here is what I am going to do to change it:

  • Start eating better. Less hangover pizza, more avodcados to give me glowing skin. Do I want to try juicing?
  • Exercise. Boo! But, I can finally yank my bike out of the corner now that it’s not raining every day. Yay!
  • Wardrobe makeover – I need to have about 80% less crap in my closet.
  • Homemade potions – screw only eating avocados, I’m going to slather them all over my face.
  • And sigh…less booze. Less partying. More sleep. Wanker. (for some reason this calls for British slang).

I’m telling you all this for two reasons: 1. to hold me accountable. Hell, you can even send me advice if you want. And 2. so I can document it all on this here blog and keep you up to date on my progress. Somehow putting it down on “paper” already has me feeling a little better and all of the above bullet points will eventually become articles or videos in some form. 

I can’t wait to see where I actually succeed and where I fail…and if someone (SweetBird) mentions booze right now I will punch them in the face…for possibly being totally right.

xoxo, Lou