7 DAY SPOTLIGHT: Salon L'Etoile

Nov 26, 2014 0 comments
7 DAY SPOTLIGHT: Salon L'Etoile
     Anyone who has ever sat through single process color, highlights, and a haircut or has enjoyed a full spa day knows that a salon is about so much more than just cosmetic expertise.  When you go to a truly wonderful salon or spa, it’s not just about walking out feeling more refreshed and beautiful; it’s about feeling better, more relaxed, and maybe a little excited, the moment you walk in the door.  From the sweet, herbal smell of hair spray and lotions, to the tingling of the comb through your hair as you discuss your new look, to the easy comfort of chatting with someone you probably never see outside the safe and fragrant confines of the salon, the experience is what takes a good salon to a great salon, a star salon.  A star salon is not for everybody—some people just want to get their trim or their nail buff and get out, all the while wearing their headphones or skimming PEOPLE magazine; but for those in the Philadelphia region who are searching for their very own star salon, where better to look than a salon that is named, and fully encompasses, just that? Salon L’Etoile and Spa.
     Salon L’Etoile and Spa, located at 4360 Main Street in Manayunk, is part of the L’Etoile salon group, which was established in 1979.  The Manayunk location is owned by Jerry Yellin, who was one of the original founders of the L’Etoile name, and Michael O’Connor, who joined the group about twelve years ago.  Jerry also owns the Salon L’Etoile in Jenkintown and Michael owns its sister salon, Salon L, in North Wales.  Meredith Hankins joined the salon in 2005 as a shampooer and receptionist and worked her way up to being the current general manager of Salon L’Etoile.  Though Meredith did graduate from cosmetology school, she found that she was more attracted to the business side of the salon, she previously studied Management at Philadelphia University: “I like operations and organizing and business but I love the industry; it’s a really great industry to be in, making people feel good about themselves every day.”
     One of the best parts about Salon L’Etoile is its inviting and comforting atmosphere.  Much of this feeling comes from the supportive and professional demeanors of its staff members, particularly in their relationships with each other.  Meredith credits this company attitude to Salon L’Etoile’s assistant program: 95% of the staff at Salon L’Etoile start as a shampooer; staff members then work as an assistant to a stylist who also mentors them; they also receive weekly and monthly training, both technical and customer-based, from the Salon.  “Every stylist has gone through the assistant program, even Michael, who is one of the owners!” says Meredith. “Because everyone started off this way, we have a very tight knit staff that takes care of each other since they know what it’s like to be the bottom of the totem pole!” Not only do the staff at Salon L’Etoile know how to craft happiness for their customers, they also exude happiness: “Our staff loves doing each other’s hair or trying out something new and just having a good time together!”
     The design and décor of Salon L’Etoile and Spa further add to the salon’s welcoming ambiance.  From the high ceilings, to the cozy couches and salon chairs, to the photos on the walls, Salon L’Etoile looks like the city loft you wish you owned. “What’s really cool is that all of the models in our photo shoots are friends, clients, staff members or relatives. Every picture in the salon is a real person that we know well!” Meredith explains.  What else adds to Salon L’Etoile’s cozy and relaxed atmosphere? Puppies! “We have a sign on our stairs that says you can bring your dog in, no matter what size as long as they have good manners.”
     Despite their fun and friendly home base, Jerry, Michael, Meredith, and the rest of the Salon L’Etoile staff frequently take their talents, and their amiable, neighborly attitudes out into Philadelphia.  In addition to their wedding and photo shoot services, Meredith says Salon L’Etoile also works with big Philadelphia organizations, particularly sports teams: “We’ve done 4 seasons of hair and makeup for the Eagle’s cheerleaders. Last season and this season we’ve worked with the Dream Team, the 76er’s dance team, doing their hair and makeup for events, big games and photo shoots.” And the salon’s outreach isn’t limited to beauty service.  “We love helping out anyone in the community, whether it’s a program run by someone on Main Street or an outside organization,” says Meredith. “We do an ‘adopt a child’ program every year. We have about 30 children and we get all of their info (interests, age, sizes, gender) and buy them things that are on their wish lists and give it as gifts.”  Salon L’Etoile staff members also volunteer at local high school fashion shows and are involved with the ASPCA, local food drives, and Mobash.
     “Salon L'Etoile and Spa has been here for over 20 years. Back then Manayunk wasn’t what it is today but the area was really up and coming and had a lot of potential.” Throughout the years, Salon L’Etoile becomes part of people’s lives and, from the wedding makeup, to the prenatal massage, to baby’s first haircut, the staff loves being able to watch their customers’ families grow.  And with the salon’s great location on Main Street, Meredith and her staff love being right in the center of a community with so much to offer and such great people doing the offering: “I absolutely love Manayunk,” says Meredith.  “I love all of the people who work in the community. They’re just really great and fun!”

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