High style, fine decor at new Lihu‘e salonr

The interior of the Lori Nichols Salon is a marked contrast from its drab, off-white exterior. Inside, walls of bronze-colored Venetian faux dims the natural light from the windows to a muted, healthy glow, and intricate care and personal touch is given to everything from custom-designed throw pillows to vibrant, healthy plants.

“I hate fake plants,” Nichols said.

She acknowledged the building needs a facelift, and she’s hoping her new sign, which is on the way, will help. In the meantime, she’s focusing on the interior, and keeping up with client demand.

Nichols recently opened up shop in Lihu‘e, above City Liquor on Rice Street, after leaving Bliss, a salon in Kapa‘a she cofounded less than a year ago.

She’d been wanting to do her own thing for a while, and when the space on Rice opened up, “I pretty much got it as soon as I heard,” she said.

Nichols said salons are tricky because of specific plumbing requirements, but this space had been a salon for 20 years.

A Galveston, Texas, native, Nichols has been on-island for the same amount of time, though she’s been in the hair business for 24 years.

Most of her clients, many of which are from the North Shore, followed her from Kapa‘a, but, “I promised them I’m not going any farther than Lihu‘e,” she said.

Though she has no plans for aggressive marketing, she is hoping to attract some clients from the southern and western portions of the island as well as her typical draw from the north and east. After all, everybody needs haircuts, and Nichols views the trade as an ongoing education.

“A kid that’s 5 years old to a lady that’s 90 years old, and a few Mohawks in between,” she said of her typical clientele. “I have to keep it interesting because I’ve been doing it for so long. I don’t want to limit myself.”

Despite the island’s simplistic reputation, Nichols says there is a group of people on Kaua‘i wanting to stay current on the trends.

To keep up, Nichols has a stylist and a manicurist starting at the end of the summer, and said she’ll have room for one more stylist if she finds the right fit.

Right now, she’s seeing between five and eight clients a day, Tuesday through Saturday.

As if that’s not keeping her busy enough, Nichols does makeup and facial waxing, and plans on developing four more aspects of her business, all tailored to the clients individual experience.

By December, she hopes to launch her own spa line, called “Bella Spa,” based on a mix-and-match aromatherapy bar to suit clients’ personal needs. She’s also planning her own line of makeup products called “Stylegirl Cosmetics,” and she’s looking into a European skin care line, either from a French or Italian company. Finally, she’s going to offer an exclusive line of chocolates, called “Bella Truffles.”

“When you can customize their products more, my clients feel like they’re catered to, to their personal tastes,” Nichols said.

She hopes to have all of those up and running by December.

And finally, Nichols has taken on interior design work from clients who admire her own decor. In the three weeks that she’s been open, five clients have expressed interest in her decor, and word of mouth should boost that quite a bit.

No matter, though. Nichols, perhaps a glutton for punishment, is up for it.

“I’m a ball of oozing creativity right now,” she said.

• Ford Gunter, associate editor, may be reached at fgunter@kauaipubco.com, or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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