June 2012

The Village Spa: A Chic Constellation

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Carrie Smoot considers herself to be one lucky woman, making a living as an independent stylist in the unique universe that is The Village Spa. Nestled in Bluffton’s cozy Bluffton Village, the atmosphere here is a bit like the chicest little girls’ playhouse occupied by lovely muses whose mission it is to light you up in the very best way. “I can’t imagine why every woman doesn’t want to do this,” Smoot said.

The path leading to what the spa is today took a few twists and turns. Two years after its 2007 opening, owner Nannette Manning made the shift from employer to landlord, offering stylists the opportunity to operate their own businesses from her spa space. According to Manning, the change came as the economic environment made it less desirable to be an owner and gave the individual stylists the ability to grow their own businesses on their own terms. What evolved was a place where talent and entrepreneurial spirit merged. Then there was one more bump in the road.

The Village Spa went through growing pains in 2011 when a fire in the residential unit above the salon caused significant flood damage. From the ashes arose the idea to rebuild and grow the business. Manning flipped the disaster scenario to one of optimism. “I knew it was the perfect time to expand the operation and add more chairs,” she said. The spa doubled its space to 3,000 square feet and added four stylists.

The happy outcome is a team of eight women who are equally committed to building on their already strong reputation. Working together to create this special salon doesn’t seem to be a chore. Describing themselves as eight women who love each other like family makes for a no drama, stress-free environment. The muses of Southern hospitality are everywhere in this shabby-chic world. Country French-looking antique furniture pieces are used throughout the salon, and a feeling of comfort and clean contemporary somehow combine to make for a lovely space.

The stylists at The Village Spa certainly know their craft, beginning with 10-year industry veterans Smoot, known for having her finger on the pulse of the latest trends and technology, and her mother Valerie Leighty, a former salon owner from Hendersonville, North Carolina. Sheryl Maloney, The Village Spa’s self-proclaimed princess, and Bluffton native Heather Gilmore each bring 23 years in the industry. Stylists Trish Lammy and Lori Smith each have 22 years of experience and are the salon’s Paul Mitchell color specialists. Former salon owner and Matrix educational advisor, Colleen Baldwin brings the most years of experience to the table, and local girl Cindy Brown, the salon’s nail expert, is a 27-year member of the beauty industry.

Staying ahead of industry trends is critical to The Village Spa’s success. The entire team recently attended a Paul Mitchell hair camp in Savannah. “It keeps you creative,” Smoot said. “We come back really fired up about what we do.” As a bonus, each independent business owner builds on her own skills and enhances what the Spa has to offer as a whole.

When asked what is trending in the industry, the team fired off an exciting list of fresh ideas and products. Ombre’ hair color is the first of many trends. In the event of a question-mark, Ombre’ hair color is the deliberate graduation of color from the roots being the darkest to the ends being the lightest. Sighted from Hollywood to the Lowcountry, Ombre’ is a frequent request at The Village Spa. Other color trends include multi-dimensional color, the outstanding coverage of age-defying color, and high vibrancy color, like Katy Perry’s infamous blue do. “Companies are more aware of the integrity of hair and are providing the same products, only better,” Smoot said.

In addition to a full-service menu of hair services, including cuts, styling, hair extensions, permanents, color, and highlighting, The Village Spa offers red-hot trending Coppola Keratin Treatments, a smoothing process that takes dry, frizzy, or curly hair and makes it silky smooth and shiny. This is the miracle all humidity-challenged Southern women have been waiting for. Makeup application, special occasion and bridal consultation, and waxing services are also included in the a la carte services available at The Village Spa. The freelance stylists also welcome special girls’ night out events.

If having fabulous hair isn’t enough, nail services at The Village Spa are on-point with the trends. OPI Gel Color and Shellac Spa manicures lead the way. Both provide a 14-day maintenance-free mani-pedi. The new gel colors are dried under an ultraviolet light, and as a bonus, are less damaging to nails. Of course, color is always trending, and as summer approaches, the choices range from vibrant blues, greens, and oranges to delicate natural nudes. Nail specialist Cindy Brown not only sees the trends, she sets them. Her Lemonade Spa Pedicure is a summer treat offered only at The Village Spa.

In addition to services and applications, it is critical to have a bead on the style trends happening in the industry. Smoot identified two significant directions that the team is seeing in hair styling. “First, true fashion hair is coming back,” she said. While ease of care is always important to the client, it is clear that they want something more than the norm and are willing to pay a little more attention to their hair and take the time to maintain their look.

Second, overall health is trending everywhere, and Smoot says that salon and spa services are no exception. The green movement is significantly impacting the development of products and services, and technology is serving the industry well. Following in the footsteps of skin care and cosmetic companies, the all-natural, fragrance-free, ammonia-free, environmentally friendly processes and products are part of the repertoire of The Village Spa and continually grow in significance and availability to their clients.

Clients of The Village Spa benefit greatly from the collaboration among the stylists. Different perspectives mean different products are available for purchase from the salon; and because there isn’t enough room to carry everything they would each like to have available, virtually anything can be ordered. In the true tradition of hospitality, sharing product knowledge seems to be the order of the day at The Village Spa.

These musing sisters of the salon work every day in a place where the day starts with making the coffee, folding the towels, and getting reconnected with their extended family. They each are grateful to be working in the perfect playground. The Village Spa is a beautiful blending of chic salon and hometown hangout, where inner beauty and outer beauty intersect—a truly unique constellation.

The Village Spa invites you to like them on Facebook to get news feeds, upcoming events, and inspiring before and after pictures. Visit The Village Spa at thevillagespabluffton.com.


Carrie Smoot & Trish Lammy

Sheryl Maloney & Colleen Baldwin

Heather Gilmore & Lori Smith

Valerie Leighty & Cindy Brown

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