July 24, 2015  from Instore Jewelry Magazine [instoremag.com]

Natalie Mona had always dreamed of owning her own salon. But as a busy mother of four small children, she had put that dream aside. That is, until her husband found a space in Howell, MI that was too good to be true.

He told me about [the space] a couple of times. I thought that I was so busy at that time in my life that I could absolutely not take on anything else. But when he showed it to me, the moment I walked in the front door I said I wanted it, she says.

The two decided on the name Essential Elegance, which Mona says has a lot to do with the feeling she got when she first saw the space in Howell and the feeling she wanted clients to have when they stepped into the salon. Now, three years later, Essential Elegance has expanded to two locations—the original Howell location and an additional location in Brighton, MI. And, while both are characterized by the feeling that Mona had in mind, they both have their own flavor of elegance.

We like to say the first location is somewhat of an old world mansion and the second location is like a salon out of Manhattan, says Denise Drewno, Essential Elegance spa manager and salon director.

Drewno joined forces with Mona in December 2008, shortly after Mona had secured the first location.

In a very short time, we both realized that our goal was to have multiple locations, says Drewno.

Mona and Drewno knew that adding a location would be no small task, and they wanted to be sure that it embodied the same level of elegance and sophistication as the original. However, they did not want it to be a cookie-cutter replica, so they decided to call on ASID Designer Leslie McGwire™ and The Pavilion for turn-key design help.

The Pavilion is the world’s largest showroom for salon and spa equipment and furniture. There, Mona and Drewno had the opportunity to visualize equipment and furniture before making a purchase decision.

Leslie was the perfect person to work, design and collaborate with, Drewno says. She’s fabulous and has the talent. I introduced her to Natalie and they hit it off, so they started putting their heads together and created the design for the second location.

The results were even better than they could have dreamed. The Brighton location features crystal chandeliers, etched glass and custom built style stations with granite tops and antique furniture that houses some of the salon’s retail displays.

It’s artsy and eclectic. I love the olive and deep purple walls next to the metallic silver. We get compliments all day long. Clients love it because we have a processing room where they can sit and drink a glass of wine while their color processes instead of sitting in our style station. There are people who want to copy the design for their house as well as their business, says Drewno.

Mona was also thrilled with the design results and says that her favorite part is the look of the style stations.

There’s this mirror that Leslie helped us find. It’s a huge, ornate, gorgeous mirror that’s the focal point of the style stations. That would have to be my favorite design element within the salon, she says.

However, Essential Elegance isn’t just about looks. It’s about specialized service, premium products and an overall outstanding salon experience.

When it comes to products, they only use the best. SpaRitual is the line that we use for our nail services. We carry Moroccanoil, which is the top seller in our Howell location, and it draws clients. When we put it in our advertising people will come in just to buy it, says Drewno.

The salon also has an outstanding team that is able to cater to clients’ specific needs. We have a lot of staff members that, aside from doing hair, specialize in things from spray tanning to hair extensions, says Mona. We are always on top of trends and taking it to the next level. When we have downtimes, we make a workshop out of it and turn it into education and learning.

But Mona says that what makes Essential Elegance stand out the most is a feeling—not unlike the feeling she got three years ago when she first set foot in what would become the Howell location.

It’s just the feeling you get when you’re here. It’s the culture and what we believe from start to finish—from the time that you walk in to the smiles that pass by to the products in the retail area. We are not a place where clients get just another haircut or service. We want to make each customer’s visit a red-carpet experience, pampering them from the front desk all the way down to each of our services.