By Katie Calautti
I’ll admit it: one of my favorite parts of TLC’s What Not To Wear is when hair stylist Nick Arrojo gives the show’s subject a terrifyingly vague consultation (Nick: “Hmm…we’re gonna go short.” Gulps the woman, “How short?” “You’ll see,” smiles Nick) and then turns her away from the mirror so she’s unable to watch him work.
It makes me positively giddy with delight to see the makeover participant squirm in terror and trepidation, because – as most women know – the idea of placing yourself in a salon chair and having little to no say in the outcome of your do is one of the most exhilaratingly petrifying prospects imaginable.
Of course, the WNTW ladies always emerge exquisitely transformed thanks to Nick’s artistry, which is why I hopped a downtown train en route to his trendy SoHo salon, Arrojo Studio.
For those of you unfamiliar with Nick (i.e. the pint-sized percentage of our readership residing under a rock), it should be noted that – before opening Arrojo Studio in 2001 – he worked at Vidal Sassoon in Manchester, Wella in London, and Bumble & Bumble and Aveda in New York. In short: he boasts 20 years of cumulative experience with the industry’s biggest names.
So, with this reputation in mind, it wasn’t much of a surprise that one step through Arrojo Studios’ gleaming doors sealed the deal: I’d entered The Mothership.
As if the industrial, loft-like space, bright orange accent walls, chrome-embellished black leather chairs, and mirror-lined stations weren’t enough, consider this: two concierge desks, a coat check/smock swap changing area, a glistening retail wall stocked with (pleasantly reasonably-priced) products, two separate cutting studios, a color room, a cosmetology center and – no joke – a coffee bar and café specializing in rustic Italian fare (think a side o’ strawberry and mint salad or banana and nutella on brioche with your pampering).
Blissfully blinded by my surroundings, I checked in, grabbed a latte and was introduced to my colorist, Lourdes and my stylist, David, who quickly proved that Arrojo’s top-notch customer service can back up the salon’s astounding first impression.
I was lead first to David’s chair, where we consulted about my hair’s texture (coarse, thin, curly), my daily routine (styling gel and diffuser NOT optional), and my hopes for its new shape (more lift at the crown, and – upon David’s suggestion – layering to give it a softer, shaggier shape).
Then it was Lourdes’ turn – and – thanks to a disastrous at-home color job that left me looking more Morticia than Medium Brown – it was clear she had her work cut out for her. After discussing my color history and my “ideal shade,” Lourdes decided to give me a corrective color treatment that would lift the black from my ends, after which I’d receive a single process to get me back to my deep, rich brown roots.
As Lourdes applied my treatments, we chatted about the rigorous 22-month apprenticeship training required of every Arrojo stylist – a certification that, once earned, provides each stylist with expertise in hairdressing theory, technique, trend awareness, and creative expression. Currently, Arrojo boasts 27 assistants and 38 stylists – all of whom possess varying levels of experience. Service price points differ depending on the level of stylist, allowing every Arrojo customer – regardless of budget – to receive stellar service on par with Nick’s impeccable standards.
After my final shampoo, Lourdes ushered me back around to David, who proceeded to slice ‘n dice my newly-lightened, shiny deep chestnut locks into an adorable choppy coif. After he’d diffused and styled me, I bobbed my head dramatically in the mirror, a triumphant smile plastered across my face. Even though dreary, wet weather greeted me as I exited onto Varick Street, I refused to put up my hood. My hip new style – like my mood – was indestructible.
If you, too, would like to enjoy your own Arrojo experience, you can find pricing, product, contact information and much more at http://www.arrojostudio.com. Also check out http://www.arrojostudio.com/studio/featured/client_charter0327.html for updates and special offers (most notably, the bring-a-friend special, which rewards existing clients with two cuts and/or colors for the price of one!)
180 Varick Street
New York, NY