Monthly Archives: October 2011

Caution to the Wise – The Damn Salon

The Damn Salon is a business that promotes itself as a natural hair salon.  I first heard about them a year ago when I saw a video clip of their work in a hair show.  Their website is very polished and their attitude towards natural hair seemed legitimate.  They are based in Atlanta, GA and I have been following their work on Facebook.  They also travel to different states to set up shop and provide services.  The salon recently announced their dates for their DC visit.  I have yet to visit a salon since I cut my hair back in March and with the change in seasons I have been thinking about what to do next in terms of styling.  I checked out their services and I decided to try “city twists.”  I have never gotten twists done and they did look pretty on the pictures they provided.  So I decided to make an appointment.  Little did I know the nightmare that was about to begin.

City twists cost $250 and up.  There is a $100 deposit required to make the appointment.  Everyone I spoke to on the phone were very nice, understanding, and helpful.  They usually end their statements with “get ready for your damn experience.”  It did seem a bit expensive to me, but I figured this could be my special treat for the year.  So I was excited and looking forward to it.

About a week later they announced on Facebook a request for models for a hair show they would be doing in DC.  I called in to be a part of the show.  They asked for me to send in my pictures and measurements.  A short time later they accepted my request and asked me to meet them at 4:00pm at the Westin Hotel at the National Harbor in Maryland the next day, which was a Friday, to see my hair and do an “afro-fusion”.

A week before I had registered with Zipcar (which is another ripoff story).  I had noticed their advertisements on campus and online for a couple of years, but had never approached the idea.  I figured I should have the option to drive if I needed to.  So on that Friday I had to take the metro to the Zipcar office to pick up my “Zipcard” and reserve a vehicle.  I found one parked at campus and reserved it from 3:00pm to 8:00pm.  The trip to and from the office took me about an hour.

Once I got back to campus, I called the lady from the salon whom I spoke with yesterday.  She did not answer.  So I left a voice mail and a text message confirming our meeting at the Westin Hotel.  I then proceeded with my GPS and rented car to Maryland…during rush hour.  This was my first experience driving in DC.  Coming from Texas, it was a little traumatizing.  Eventually I got the hang of it.

It took me about 45 minutes to get to the hotel and find parking.  There was no response to my call or message during that time.  I entered the lobby of the hotel and called her again.  This time she picked up and asked where I was.  I told her I was at the hotel.  Turns out they were at Pentagon City Mall.  She said they had been waiting a little while and decided to go to the mall and that she did not check her phone.  She then asked if I could come to the mall.  So I returned to my rented car, paid the fee for parking in their parking deck, and made my way to the mall.  I missed the exit on the highway a few times and had to do a few U-turns to find the entrance to the parking deck for the mall.  I find the two salon ladies shopping at Forever XXI.  Not for the show or with other models, but for themselves.  They had to change back into their own clothes before talking to me.

I asked for details about the show, since not much was given to me the day before.  At first they said I would need to be there at 9am.  Then they decide that 12pm would be better.  Then they explain that they won’t have to do my hair that night, but probably do some cornrows on the side and have the rest of it sticking out.  I then find out that it is not a runway type of show.  Instead I would be a mingling-mannequin wearing their hairstyle and passing out their brochures.  I decided this was not working for me and told them I couldn’t do it.  So I ended up not participating in the show, paying $80 for using a Zipcar for 4 hours, paying for parking at two different parking decks, and going to sleep with a massive headache.

Due to this unfortunate incident, looking at the possible hair style in real life, and a little reflecting on my part, I decided I no longer wanted my hair done by The Damn Salon.  So, I called their DC number and told them I would like to cancel my appointment.  The person who answered said she was not “stationed” at the time, but will call me back.  Two days passed.  Then another lady called me back confirming my cancellation.  She asked for my reason and I said, “I no longer want my hair done.”  So she explained I could put my deposit up for an appointment in February when they will be in DC again.  I said I did not want to make another appointment.  She then explained I could use the deposit to purchase some of their products.  I asked if I could have a refund.  She then said that they don’t do refunds when the salon visits other states and continued to repeat my options for another appointment or products.  I told her I didn’t want either.  So she said she will take me off the calendar because there are “so many people” waiting for a spot and that I can call her back when I decide what I want to do.

I proceeded to search their website for a cancellation and refund policy.  I could not find either.  There was no mention of exceptions with out-of-state visits nor literature on how to go about canceling an appointment.

I am very disappointed by this experience.  I was really looking forward to trying something new and possibly making new friends.  I have read a few reviews about this salon and the majority of their comments seem to be pleased with the end product, but put off by the price or location of the out-of-state visit.  I am sure they know how to do hair well and maybe they do have a professional operation at the Atlanta salon.  However, their lack of consideration for my time and decency towards a client was completely out of line.

I just wanted to share my experience to prevent others from falling in the same trap.  Before you submit your credit card number to anything online, make sure you find the fine-print and read all of it.  I know I will.

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Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle Expo

Source: dc50tv.com

I am now proud to announce that I have finally attended a Fashion Expo.

Thanks to a heads-up from one of my fellow fashionistas, I went (and had a pretty good time) to the DC50 Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle Expo at the Washington DC Convention Center on September 10th.  Special guests included Nigel Barker and Korto Momolu as the hosts, Jaslene Gonzalez as one of the models, and DJ Neekola providing the fashion ambiance through music.

There were several vendors present, ranging from hair salons, jewelry, vintage clothing, and model agencies.  Everything was being sold at a discount price.  I was primarily drawn to the vintage booths.  I snagged a blue and white plaid bow tie, vintage big yellow earrings, and a white – poetic – top.   I will have to do a lookbook shoot with these pieces soon.

Several designers were showcased on the runway.  The two I loved were Tsyndyma and Korto Momolu. (sorry for the blurry photos)

TSYNDYMA

Korto Momolu

Korto Momolu

 There were also a few celebrities I got to take pictures with.

Paul Wharton is fashion, modeling, and lifestyle expert and is featured in multiple television and magazine fashion pieces.  He was very personable and funny.  It was almost like everyone who approached him was an old friend he was glad to see.  At the expo he hosted a “Runway Walk Off” where volunteers could compete on the runway.  Guess who won?  Me!  There were about 20 contestants and the audience voted for me.  It was pretty fun.  I won two free workshops with the Great Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce and a surprise gift card (which I have yet to receive).

Source: dc50tv.com

Nigel Barker is an English author, spokesperson, filmmaker, and fashion photographer.  I must admit that I did not know who he was before I attended the event, I just really liked how he looked in his suit and his accent.  Of course, I later learned about his part on American’s Next Top Model and the documentaries he has produced.  He too was very personable during the two seconds it took to take our photo.  He said, “I love your hair.”  I said, “Thank you,” (in mind – excuse me while I mop myself back together).  I am now an official fan.  At the expo he was one of the hosts, which he has done every year for this particular expo in DC.  He is a natural on stage.

 In regards to the organization of the event, there is room for some improvement.  Even though the majority of the vendors were offering discounts, only a few were within a price range that seemed reasonable…in my opinion.  If the discount price is $130, I’m scared to imagine what the original price must be.  I don’t believe being fashionable entails being broke.  Secondly, the scheduling of the fashion shows and speakers were a little too dispersed.  Once you have walked by all the vendors, we ended up wandering around until the next showcase.  Along those lines, there were no chairs.  I understand that mingling and viewing the merchandise was encouraged, but standing the entire time can get pretty tiring.  There were also some segments that could have been omitted or better prepared.  For example, there was a segment that chose random people as worst dressed by a stylist who would give recommendations.  If the stylist had a wardrobe to provide the volunteers so that the audience could benefit from viewing the transformation, then it might have been worth it.  However, the stylist only had one sweater and a belt.  Her suggestions were not very helpful either.

 I enjoyed the experience.  It was nice to observe the different fashion statements and showcases.  My next step is to try to attend an event similar to this in a bigger fashion spot, such as New York City.   I will keep you posted as that plan progresses.

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Hair Inspiration Part 3

 

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Green: the Original Vogue. Welcome to Eco Couture.

Source: Elizabeth St John

Washington, DC designer Elizabeth St John follows the philosophy of eco couture.  I caught up with her at her most recent showcase for the Art Soiree/Nuit De La Mode event at the Hillwood Estates.   With a background in environmental studies and a childhood surrounded by fashion and construction, Elizabeth St John designs bridal and evening wear and is President of the Universal Strategic Services Foundation.  She graciously accepted to do an interview with me and discussed her design philosophy, the fashion industry, and her charity work.

Fashion is generally seen as something celebrities waste money on and tween girls waste time on.  A lesser form of art that leads to anorexia, drugs, and self-image issues.  Although this is the underbelly of the fashion industry, its impact on society is undeniable.  There is a deeper layer to this impact that not many are knowledgeable about.  Eco couture.  A design philosophy that supports environmentalism and sustainable responsibility, eco fashion has been nourishing our planet way before the current green trend.

“I like the challenge of greening a business,” said Elizabeth St John.  Defining her collection as “Refined. Glamorous. Green,” she tries to dispel the negative connotation of green collections.  To those who think eco fashion is just a fad, Elizabeth St John considers them to be misinformed with a limited vision of green collections as recycling old pieces to new pieces.  “Couture is French for hand dressmaking,” says Elizabeth St John, “there is nothing more green than doing things by hand.”  She explains that eco fashion is based on the roots of apparel production and moving forward due to its environmental impact.

Source: Elizabeth St John

Referring to her design process, Elizabeth St John considers herself unorthodox.  She sources her material first, such as finding a piece of silk she really likes.  Then she develops a design around that piece of material.  “I actually don’t sketch,” she said, “so I do it kind of in reverse.”

To enhance her background and interest in the environment, Elizabeth St John and a few of her colleagues founded the Universal Strategic Services Foundation in Washington, DC to establish green projects for business in third world countries.  “I used to work for conservation organizations in the Amazon for inventory on plants and animals,” she said, “and I started to miss direct hands on work with countries over seas and other subjects that are important.”

The foundation is currently developing two initiatives.  First, bringing solar energy to very remote parts of the world, such as villages in West Africa, which allows them to run schools, internet, and refrigeration for medicine.  Second, establishing a vocational school for women in Afghanistan “to provide life skills they won’t have other wise to support their families,” said Elizabeth St John.  They are partnering with some government organizations so that these women will be hired to guarantee employment.

Source: Elizabeth St John

Returning to the fashion initiative in the United States, Elizabeth St John remarks that the current economic situation has moved a large part of the industry’s apparel production abroad, primarily to Asia.  As of recently, a lot of those companies are slowly moving back to the US due to the “problems with production quality and shipping” from Asia.  “I think going forward,” said Elizabeth St John, “you will see more ‘Made in the USA’ labels.”

Elizabeth St John is a fan of the Louis XVI of France era, “the skill involved in making those pieces is just spectacular.”  She also likes “the clean and feminine lines of the late 1950s and early 1960s.  The tailoring is timeless.”

Looking forward, Elizabeth St John is very excited about her upcoming evening collection.  “I get to be more creative and ratchet up the sexy factor,” she said.  The collection is due to premiere October 31st.

To view her collections and learn more about her work, visit www.elizabethstjohn.com

Source: Elizabeth St John

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