In the heart of North Park, there exists a haven of creativity, warmth, and innovation – The Lab A Salon. Since its establishment in 2008, this salon has not only been a hub for exceptional hair and beauty services, but has also played a vital role in nurturing a sense of belonging and unity within the neighborhood. At the helm of this enterprise is Adrianne, the compassionate owner and master stylist, whose unwavering dedication has transformed The Lab A Salon into a cherished local institution.
The Birth of The Lab A Salon
Adrianne’s first big chapter as a stylist took place in a loft on the second floor in Bankers Hill. The studio had a steady clientele and was successful in spite of low foot traffic & even lower airplane flyovers. Things started to change when the business was sold. The new owner saw the business and the stylists as investments, which they could squeeze for profit without being involved in operations. That’s when Adrianne started to think about her next step.
The struggle was Adrianne had built such great relationships with her fellow stylists, she didn’t know how to take that next step without leaving them. It wasn’t until her stepdad offered her the simple advice to, “just build your own,” that ideas began to form. Adrianne took up that advice, asked the other stylists if they’d follow her, and set about making her idea a reality.
Choosing North Park as the salon’s home was a product of ‘right place, right time’ At the time, Liberty Station was the new thing in San Diego, but the prices & environment didn’t fit for Adrianne. North Park in the 2000s was a different place (just ask anyone), but Adrianne saw the potential for growth and transformation. She was already familiar with the area because of networking with clients, “I wanted to meet clients that were in the industry where they were being seen,” said Adrianne, “This was before Instagram & social media, so we went out to meet our clients at Shooters, Bar Pink, and other hot spots.”
While out shopping one day in North Park, she just happened to walk by an empty storefront with a door wide open. With a literal door of opportunity open, Adrianne approached the gentlemen inside and explained her vision. A short time later, they were moving through the process of setting up shop.
The Lab A Salon’s journey officially began in 2008 when Adrianne opened a space that not only catered to hairstyling needs but also fostered a sense of belonging. When asked about how she came up with the name, Adrianne explained that the “lab” signifies the salon’s constant experimentation and commitment to understanding the unique needs of each client. “We are chemists. We are constantly talking about and experimenting with pH levels. Alkaline & acids need to be specific to each client because everyone’s hair needs are different.
Over the years, she witnessed North Park evolve into a vibrant, family-oriented community, embracing change while preserving its unique identity. She is grateful for the journey and what she has been able to accomplish. Looking back at it, her only advice to aspiring entrepreneurs was “start small, because I started out big… big team, big space. I didn’t know how to navigate it. It was longer and harder to figure out.”
The journey to becoming a successful business owner wasn’t always smooth for Adrianne. She highlighted the hidden struggles, such as dealing with payroll, employee dynamics, and taxes, other elements often overlooked by those outside the business realm. But with an entrepreneurial spirit inherited from her fathers, who both own businesses, she knew she could figure things out with enough time and determination.
A Visionary Leader with a Heart of Gold
Adrianne’s commitment to her vision is evident in the way she nurtures her team. As a dedicated educator, she imparts knowledge, training her team, ensuring they understand the language and methodology of their craft. Her teaching style emphasizes individuality and personal growth, allowing her team to flourish in their unique ways. She describes herself as a supportive cheerleader, who’s approach to life and leadership is centered on empathy and compassion. The Lab A Salon is free from ego and negativity, emphasizing mutual support among her team members. Adrianne’s mission is clear: to help people discover their true potential and guide them without imposing her own views.
“I am literally telling them how badass they are. They’re amazing at what they do and I can’t let fear seep into their head about are they good enough or whatever else we trap ourselves in,” Adrianne is someone who looks inspired when talking about her team & that energy spreads throughout the whole business.
She empowers her staff to step out of their comfort zones, foster growth, and encourage creativity. She looks to get her team outside their comfort zone by engaging them in meaningful ways. One of her goals is to have her stylists attend & showcase at Anthony Edge’s Open Chair Nights. These events are a great opportunity for her team to realize the potential that Adrianne sees in them. Adrianne expressed her desire to see her team members shine, taking the stage and showcasing their talent, a testament to her nurturing and supportive leadership style.
Additionally, Adrianne highlighted the importance of collaboration and the close-knit relationships. She praised her best friend Cindy, who co-owns the neighboring nail salon, Hello Birdie. Cindy started off as manager at The Lab A Salon, and over time, through their mutual support and camaraderie, Cindy & Adrianne were able to bring a new business to life together. Having your best friend next door isn’t something many business owners can rely on, but for Adrianne it’s another blessing she’s thankful for… especially if their salon clothing dryer is down and they need to run a quick load.
It’s easy to see that when Adrianne decides to hang up the clippers, she will have built an ever-lasting legacy through the numerous stylists, clients, and friends she was able to help reach their potential.
Through the Storm & Ahead Together
Adrianne and The Lab A Salon faced the challenges brought about by the pandemic with resilience and determination. The outpouring of support from the community and clients helped the salon bounce back swiftly after the lockdowns, illustrating the deep connections Adrianne has forged over the years.
A misty-eyed Adrianne recalls how clients, friends, and community members were sending them money during the pandemic. “I told them ‘you can use that for your service when you come in so it would be like a prepay’, but people just wanted to truly support us.” It was that showing that reaffirmed to Adrianne the importance and depth of what it means to be part of a community.
In Adrianne’s eyes, North Park’s strength lies in its tight-knit community and mutual support among local businesses. Despite the hurdles, she remains optimistic about the future, confident in the community’s ability to adapt and thrive.
The Lab A Salon continues to flourish under Adrianne’s nurturing guidance. Her commitment to education, unwavering support for her team, and genuine love for her community make her a beacon of inspiration in the hairstyling industry. In the heart of North Park, amidst the hustle and bustle, The Lab A Salon stands as a testament to her vision – a sanctuary where creativity knows no bounds and everyone is celebrated for who they are.
More About The Lab A Salon
Address: 3034 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104