Small Houston Shop, Big Idea
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By ANNA-MEGAN RALEY, CBS Houston
Sami Arjona stands just 4-feet, 11-inches tall, but her personality, her voice, her work ethic and her idea are as big as Texas as she’s taking on some of the most well-known, profitable businesses related to her industry. Arjona, a native Houstonian and hair stylist who owns her own salon, has developed the highly esteemed MÊLER technique, and the patented approach to coloring hair is getting her and her little shop some attention from some big companies.
Arjona runs Touch of Red (TOR) salon out of an old-school-house-turned-business in Houston’s Museum District, and her customers treat her shop like a home away from home. Frida, the four-pound Chihuahua, greets hair clients at the door or on the sofa in the waiting area and usually finds herself nestled in the lap of somebody getting color treatment. Co-owner Shannon Harryman or stylist Carlos Suarez keeps the wine glasses filled and the personal conversations morphing into friendship-building talk with everyone hanging around the shop. Unlike a regular hair appointment elsewhere, a hair service at TOR evolves into a memorable social experience like a Happy Hour with friends.
The casual, free-spirited environment is just a perk included with getting hair treatments like the MÊLER technique at TOR.
Mêler means “a mixture of colors” in French; and the technique, which could and should revolutionize the hair industry, has the big guys with big labels scrambling.
During a MÊLER hair color technique application, 6 to 10 colors are used in a unique marbalized pattern, smudged and melded at the roots, which allows regrowth to appear a part of the artistic effect. Depending on a client’s natural hair color, lifestyle, maintenance level and hair growth patterns, this technique enables clients to go as long as eight months between touch-ups. Most clients go three to five months before the application is necessary again.
While Arjona’s technique allows clients to avoid her hair chair for longer than at other places, she’s still making a tremendous profit because she’s able to see more clients – including some of Houston’s more prestigious people - and she can charge more for the extra colors used. Arjona wants to share this technique and watch it change what hair stylists have been doing for years.
“This is going to be the Sassoon of our era,” Arjona said. “This is 2011. It’s time to modernize this industry.”
When she entered the hair industry, Arjona was a nobody. The single mother to one daughter survived poverty, time in prison and an addiction to illegal drugs and has built an extremely successful salon that enjoys 90-percent client return. The technique she’s developed could potentially make her millions, and she’s moving onto the next phase of sharing her technique to stylists around the globe and stamping her name into the industry’s guide of innovators and creators.
Arjona says she’s been communicating with companies like Proctor & Gamble (U.S.) and Tressa Colourage (France) in recent weeks, and both are curious about her technique and are brainstorming to see if they can recreate the hair artist’s MÊLER technique. They’ve been unsuccessful.
The newest beauty secrets seem to travel from east to west out from under the bright lights of New York City or even Paris. Or they’re revealed in Los Angeles, where the world’s most famous and glamorous stars get first tries at revolutionary products and techniques. Not this time.
Envisioning a hair line of her own, educational tools and additional products, Arjona seems to be moving in the right direction. Everybody around her knows she’s sitting on a pot of gold with the MÊLER technique. The road to the kind of business success she’s due is still being paved, but her recognized potential and all the other signs might just be scratching the surface for now. Just wait. This Houston woman plans on making an international impact on this huge industry.