Sonja K = Blonde, James Blonde
Who she is: Sonja K’s love story with the hair salon Blo began in her hometown of Vancouver. No one else could tame her thick Scandinavian mane. In 2012, the 20something (aka, “Blonde, James Blonde”), put down the puck at her marketing position with the Vancouver Canucks to take over Blo Union Street in San Francisco with her sister, Merete.
What she does: When not in-bar and spreading good hair around San Francisco, Sonja hearts weekend getaways and sipping vino. Sonja’s mantra: Good hair cures everything.
Why she does it: “My sister, Merete, and I purchased the San Francisco location in January 2013.” Sonja says. “We were big fans of the Blo concept since we both hail from Vancouver—Blo’s hometown—and had been going to Blo for years. The right opportunity presented itself with the San Francisco location, and we took the plunge to take over (including me relocating from Vancouver to San Francisco to manage the business).”
Be Inkandescent: Tell us about Blo—what do you do, and why do you do it?
Sonja: Blo is North America’s original blow-dry bar. Scissors are verboten. Dye, ditto. No cuts, no color: Just WASH / BLOW / GO. Hair Cadets (aka clients) choose from seven styles featured in the Blo Hair Menu, from the razor-straight “Executive Sweet” to the runway-inspired “Pillow Talk.” It all started in 2007 with a vital question: “Why isn’t there a place for quick, affordable catwalk-quality blowouts?” We have been coif-ing ever since. Currently, Blo has 28 locations across North America and Asia, with more opening soon.
Be Inkandescent: What are your ambitions for the company?
Sonja: We would love to open two or three more locations in the USA, starting with another in the Bay Area. There are plenty of markets that are starving for a business of this nature, which is why Blo is expanding so rapidly into other states (and continents)!
Be Inkandescent: What are your successes to date?
Sonja: Since taking over Blo Union Street in January, we have increased our staff by 50 percent (and we’re still hiring!), increased our weekend sales volume by nearly 100 percent, and still can’t seem to meet the demand for appointments on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. We’ll get there though, since we keep bringing on more great staff (“bloers”).
Be Inkandescent: Let’s talk a little about the competition. Blow-dry bars are pretty popular—especially in San Francisco. Why should women come to Blo versus other shops? And, why not just go to your own stylist?
Sonja: At Blo Union Street, we pride ourselves on two concepts—outstanding customer service and fantastic hair. As an owner, I’m at Blo five days a week, so I’m usually the first face you see when you walk in, and the last one when you walk out.
Plus, the blow-dry bar concept is unique: because we don’t do cuts and color, we do only one thing, and we do it really well. When you visit Blo Union Street for a blowout, you’re not cheating on your hairdresser (and you’re probably getting your styling for about half the price).
Be Inkandescent: We love your marketing materials—especially the hot-pink signature color, which is the same signature shade as InkandescentPR.com. Tell us about some of your promotions, such as our favorite—“frequent dryer miles.”
Sonja: The Blo tab is a package we offer to our clients who rack up “frequent dryer miles”: in other words, you get eight blowouts for the price of seven ($245), and we keep a running tab on how many you have left. With the Blo tab, there’s no reason to ever have to wash your own hair.
Be Inkandescent: What can we look forward to seeing at Blo in 2013 and beyond?
Sonja: Blo is rapidly expanding and opening in some really exciting new locations in 2013 including Manhattan, Beverly Hills, Moscow, and London (and many more). As the North American pioneer of the blow-dry bar concept, we can’t wait to see where Blo will open next.