A GLOBAL PANDEMIC COULDN’T STOP THIS DYNAMIC MOTHER AND DAUGHTER DUO FROM GROWING THEIR BLOWOUT BAR INTO A WILDLY POPULAR, FULL SERVICE BEAUTY AND HAIRCARE DESTINATION IN CHARLESTON
BY CHRYSA SMITH PHOTOS BY HASSAN KHAN
On any given afternoon in Charleston, Blow Lounge is buzzing with energy. Alongside the melodic hum of blow dryers, stylists are sculpting bobs and brushing on Balayage highlights while swapping summer vacation plans with their clients. Everything from pixie cuts and retro Hollywood curls to Brazilian blowouts and special occasion makeup is performed here, offering A to Z styling services for what the salon owner calls a particularly chic clientele.
“It’s a great place for a salon like this,” said Amber Morales, who owns and operates the lounge alongside her mom. “People are very much into their appearance. They get their eyelashes done every two weeks and their nails. Their hair is done all the time.”
Blow Lounge initially debuted as a blowout studio, but in the year and a half since its germination, it has grown into a full-service salon. The evolution is a source of pride for the mother and daughter duo, especially given the original opening date was set for March 2020.
The beginning of a global pandemic couldn’t be a worse time to start a business never mind an enterprise as intimate as a salon. But the new business owners pushed through trying times and welcomed their first clients in January 2021. While strict COVID regulations caused many salons to shuttered their doors, this tag team found a way to make it all work.
Much of the salon’s success, Morales noted, was attributed to the ownership team working in tandem.
Morales’ mom didn’t have a background in hair. After a long and fruitful career working in law firms, she decided to pack it in and help her daughter fulfill a longstanding dream in opening her own salon. Her business acumen was undoubtedly a significant help in bringing the idea to fruition.
“It was definitely a dream of mine to open a salon,” said Morales. “My stepfather and I spoke about opening it together, but unfortunately, he passed away back in 2018, so he didn’t have the chance to do it with me. So, my mother and I decided to do it together.”
After graduating from beauty school in 2016, Morales earned her stripes in several salons throughout the Big Apple, from Brooklyn to Staten Island. When Blow Lounge opened its doors, the stylist said she started with a blank slate: no big-time help, no previous clients to bring over. Faced with building a brand from scratch, the tenacious new business owner called upon her social media skills, filling her Instagram feed with a sea of #hairgoals snapshots of her handiwork, from flowing blowouts to contemporary cuts. Blow Lounge’s location, she noted, was also beneficial, set in the footprint of a former salon in a busy strip with on-site parking. Morales said this location was just what she was looking for. Convenience and heavy traffic go a long way in not only getting noticed, but in drawing clients through the door.
While the previous leaseholder was indeed a salon, Morales said it left little for them to work with. “We built the business from the ground up,” she said. “We redid everything: took down walls, added new tiles, paint, furnishings like chairs, shampoo sinks, mirrors. We experienced the normal business challenges of problems with plumbing and even an exploding sink [laughs].”
The result was a modern minimalist aesthetic that’s welcoming to all. Morales called it a laid-back environment, and she makes it a priority to make her clients feel as comfortable as possible.
The name, Morales said, arose “because we originally started as a blowout bar, but I didn’t want bar in the name, like other typical blowout bars.” She tried to think of other words synonymous with the word bar and came up with Blow Lounge. “I thought about changing the name since becoming a full-service salon, but I figured blowouts are the majority of what our clientele books.”
As only the second blowout salon on Staten Island, Morales has regular clients that come in one to two times a week for a shampoo and blow out. “A ton of people do this,” she said. “Our price points are lower. Blowouts are $30 regardless of hair length. They include iron work at no additional charge, which is unheard of.”
With the pandemic’s myriad challenges now behind her, Morales explained her most pressing task moving forward is finding licensed stylists. She noted that while there are numerous people who know how to do hair, few are officially licensed. Right now, five stylists are on staff and they have a full schedule. The salon is open six days a week, and with only one day off each week, Morales is still constantly focused on her work. Active on social media, she spends time taking photographs and posting images, and it’s this auspicious combination of skill and business savvy that keeps her business in forward motion.
4553 Arthur Kill Road / 718-702-7482