Though Savannah Blue isn’t originally from New Orleans, having grown up in Alaska, attended beauty school in Seattle, and lived in Hawaii, there’s no place else she’d rather be. With a successful salon boasting a staff of roughly 10 talented stylists, a dream clientele, and a whopping 4.5 star rating on Yelp, why would she ever want to move? “If there’s one thing I know about New Orleans,” she said, “It’s that you have to cater to its uniqueness.” When Blue returned to New Orleans after the destruction wrought by Katrina, she decided to take her part in renewal by opening her first salon with a business partner on Bourbon Street. When she outgrew the business a few years later, she opened the first Rocket Science salon on Frenchman, above 13. Now, Rocket Science Beauty Bar resides in its quirky, spacious location on Elysian Fields in the Marigny.
Blue explained that her vision for her salon was to give the Marigny neighborhood a location that mirrored its uniqueness and inspired not only her staff, but the clientele, as well. “I really wanted something that was laid-back and approachable but still professional. I wanted somewhere that was creative and bright and vibrant.” This casual and imaginative vibe is immediately apparent upon entering the salon – everyone, including the stylists, is happy to be there, and the atmosphere is immensely positive. Customer service was also crucial to Blue’s vision of Rocket Science, as the salon has never been advertised through any media. “Word of mouth is everything in this town, and so it’s always been really important to me to have a high quality of service,” Blue mentioned. From the rave reviews online and the smiles of customers walking out of the salon, it’s clear that she’s succeeded in her goal.
As far as clientele goes, the salon sees both conservative “bread-and-butter” clients who drop by every six weeks for a trim and visitors asking for more avant-garde hairstyles and colors that most stylists only dream of doing. “That, I love,” Blue said with a smile, “It’s probably one of the most sort of serendipitous and valuable things about this place.” Part of the diversity in the salon’s clientele comes from the confidence of the stylists to communicate and execute a plan to get a patron from their current style to the style they want. Often, the stylists are as excited about the change as the clients themselves. “I feel like a lot of that enthusiasm actually has to do with expertise,” Blue added.
When asked about her personal tips as a stylist regarding summer hairstyling, Blue expounded upon the importance of a “wash and wear” plan – one involving less blow-drying, brushing, and heat styling. “You could spend, in the A/C of your home, a substantial amount of time styling your hair,” Blue explained knowingly, “And then by the time you walk outside to your car, you’re in a different world.” To create a feasible wash and wear plan, two elements are crucial: a good haircut created by a stylist that understands your need for an option that involves little to no styling and an appropriate product to help complete the style.
Another method for summer styling that Blue acclaims is the use of bobby pins or headbands in an updo, like the now-popular messy bun. Styles like these allow you to get your hair out of the way while still looking fashionable and current. This is also a big part of what Blue and her stylists do for clients in the chair – they go through how to properly utilize bobby pins or hair clips as well as potential ways to tie the hair back. “A lot of times, it’s just encouragement that it’s okay to do that. For whatever reason, people have a perception often that not blow-drying your hair, or wearing your hair up, is a bad thing. And it’s not, especially here….I’ve always felt that NOLA is a very feminine place, and there’s a lot of feminine drive and force here, and I feel that most women I know in this town are really up to something…The more time [they] have to utilize towards positive things and not stressing about [their[ hair, the better, especially this time of year, where it can be a losing battle.”
As far as color goes, Blue also strongly recommends the use of new products that contain UV or sun protection, as UV damage usually presents itself as color fading during the summer. “As we all know, sun is damaging to our skin, and our hair is very compositionally similar,” Blue revealed. Sulfate-free or low-sulfate products can also aid hair, both colored and not, in looking its best during the summer. These products take the strong detergent out of shampoos to prevent them from stripping your hair, allowing natural balance and oils to come into play. Finally, Blue makes a point to remind her clients to rinse their hair with fresh water first before going into chlorinated or salt water. Rinsing hair immediately after a swim with fresh water is equally as important.
Even with the roles of a stylist, manager, and owner on her plate, Blue honestly loves what she does, and it’s easy to see. “I think that I find each one of those things fulfilling…if I only did one, I don’t think that I would be as fulfilled or as inspired or as tireless.” As the interview came to a close, Blue expressed her gratitude towards New Orleans and her staff. “I feel so blessed to be a part of this city and neighborhood and to have the beautiful staff and beautiful clientele that I do. It’s absolutely worth it for me everyday. Every single person who comes in here, or even thinks about coming in here, matters to me and to us. We really do get up every day to make everyone feel great about the way that they look.”