Glenview resident Vivian Arpino spent 22 years as lead hair stylist for "The Oprah Winfrey Show," preparing many celebrity guests including Tom Hanks, Glen Close and Bill and Hilary Clinton. But when the show ended its run, she was out of a job.
"I knew I didn't want to work in a salon," she said. "I started hearing about these blow dry bars and I thought 'This is genius. This is my calling.'"
In February, Arpino opened BloOuts in Highland Park, where women can come and get their hair washed, blow dried and styled without any cutting. When she'd worked at Chicago's Charles Ifergan Hair Salon, she'd seen women from Highland Park visit weekly for blowouts, so she felt the concept would work well on the North Shore. She's been proven right, with weekend appointments booking up two to three weeks in advance and more than 40 people signing up for memberships to receive discounts on regular treatments.
"We're doing really, really well," Arpino said. "We're building a clientele. We've got regulars coming in once or twice a week."
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Most of the women who come to BloOuts know exactly how they want their hair styled, but for those who are uncertain, the salon offers iPads loaded with pictures of celebrity hairstyles. For instance, if you want straight hair you can tell your stylist to make you look like Fergi or Jennifer Anniston.
"It gives us a direction to go in without wasting much time," Arpino said.
While some of her clients are preparing for a big event like a wedding, Bat Mitzvah or homecoming dance, Arpino said many women are washing their hair only a few times a week so they can get a professional styling that lasts for days. BloOuts are $35 for adults and $25 for kids
"It's a luxury," she said. "They have 30 minutes of peace. It's a way of pampering themselves and it's a great price. Women love it. They sit here, they close their eyes, they relax."
Lake Forest resident Laura Minelli said she's visited BloOuts five times, coming before a wedding and other special events.
"It's so hard to do my own hair at home and they do such a nice job," she said. "It's fast and reasonably priced. You could pay more for a full service salon and it wouldn't be as good."
Highland Park resident Holly Schwartzberg had seen blow dry bars when she was in Los Angeles, so when one opened in her town she stopped in to see what it was like and was thrilled with the results.
"I've never got so many compliments," she said. "That's why I'm coming back. My hair is just a pain to do. I like not having to worry about it."