Los Angeles, CA — Walk into the Leimert Park salon owned by Michelle Rachal, and you are immediately struck by the ambiance. The lighting is low and soothing. Plush couches form a comfy seating area in the front of the location. And to left of the entrance, a bar area allows clients to eat or sip coffee or tea.
There is also a small boutique selling clothing, hand bags and other accessories. And for those who make an appointment, there is a massage therapist to ease the aches and pains of daily life.
This sense of relaxation that Rachal has created in Turning Heads Salon, Spa and Boutique, was done deliberately in an effort to develop what the veteran salon owner calls a “haven.”
“What I tried to do was create an atmosphere where people can come in and forget about what is going on outside,” said Rachal, who has owned her Leimert Park location for nearly eight years, and before that owned another salon for 15 years.
“It doesn’t resemble a salon,” agrees Rachal. “When you first walk in the door, you think it’s somebody’s living room. But it’s not stuffy, and we’ve got wireless Internet, so clients can come in with lap tops, or they can just be off in the corner relaxing,” said the business owner, who shared that taking care of hair has always come very naturally to her, which made choosing her career almost automatic.
The idea to take her salon in this direction was God-inspired, confessed Rachal who said her business now is a “grown-up” salon. “This is a journey. This is who I am today.”
Rachal has come to this point in her “journey” after working about eight years in three different salons (two on Melrose Avenue and one on La Cienega Avenue), and realizing that she wanted to control the environment of the salon in which she worked.
So using money she saved up, the stylist opened her first salon–Turning Heads Salon at King Boulevard and Fourth Avenue.
She stayed in the 900 square foot location from 1987 to 2000 before moving into her Leimert Park location, which is more than double the size of her first business.
“I was ready to expand. I had evolved. In 15 years, you find out who you are,” explained Rachal about her move. She was also very conscious of wanting to create a particular environment, and needed more space to do so.
“It’s really our job not only to make you look good on the outside but to really build up the inner person,” noted the Dorsey High grad, who also makes sure that the relaxing atmosphere is coupled with providing customers a consistent standard of excellent service that values their time and makes them not mind paying just a little bit more.
“This is a ministry for me. People are hurting. Women are hurting . . . I allow God to use me to speak into their life; not in a preachy way but in love.”
That love is the difference people feel when they walk in the door; and it is what follows them as they leave as well.