By Mary Carr Mayle Savannah Morning News, Ga.
For several years, blow dry bars -- quick in-and-out hair salons that offer only a shampoo and style -- have been popping up by the dozens in big cities from New York to Chicago, Boston to Beverly Hills.
The hottest new trend in hairstyling, blow dry bars are designed to appeal to the woman who wants to look good -- whether it's for a special social occasion or a big presentation -- but doesn't have half a day to spend in a salon. Instead, she can come in on her lunch break or after work and be out 45 minutes later -- all for under $40.
Already a huge hit in major markets, the concept has begun finding its way into smaller cities.
Charleston has Tease and Jacksonville has Sutra Salon, among others.
Add Savannah's name to that list, as Let It Blo had its grand opening and ribbon-cutting Thursday at its new downtown salon, offering the popular wash-and-blowout for a special opening-day price of $25. The regular price will be $35.
Owner Kay Cantrell, a Savannah native and hairstylist, already operates one unconventional salon -- Hush Hair and Nails on Hodgson Memorial Drive.
"Hush is by appointment only -- no walk-ins -- and we only serve one client at a time," she said. "Our clients are professional women, media personalities -- mostly people who appreciate the privacy and one-on-one attention."
Cantrell expects Let It Blo to attract a slightly different demographic.
"A blow dry bar caters primarily to the woman on the go," she said. "She wants to look good whether she's driving soccer carpool or presiding over a meeting at work. She appreciates the economy of price and time."
But can such a salon attract a large enough clientele in a city Savannah's size?
Cantrell is betting on it.
"I really don't consider Savannah to be a small city," she said. "It's a unique city, with an extremely diverse population. I think this is going to work well here."
With three stylists and a salon manager, Let It Blo will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
After checking in, a client decides whether she wants a full shampoo or "Savannah Mist," a spray that contains water and cleanser and represents a quicker option for someone who has less than an hour, Cantrell said.
"She then decides on a style from our menu."
There is the Southern Bell, "a voluminous style with lots of body"; the Tybee Wave, "a more natural, wind-blown beachy look"; the Magnolia Blossom, "a mix of the two, with both volume and waves"; and Straight Talk, "a sleek, shiny, no-frizz style designed to hold up under Savannah's notorious humidity," Cantrell said.
There will also be a featured style that changes regularly.
A portion of Thursday's proceeds will go to the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire, a local nonprofit program that works to provide resources and advocacy to victims of sexual violence as well as prevention education to youth and young adults.
"Our demographic is women, and I can't think of a more worthy organization to support," Cantrell said.
IF YOU GO What: Let It Blo, a blow dry bar offering a shampoo and style for $35 Where: 133 Drayton St. When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday