LaJohnna Andersen has noticed one difference between Wichita and her native Southern California.
“Back home, people get fixed up just to go to Walmart. It’s so close to Hollywood.”
Andersen is betting there are enough similarly inclined people here to support her hair salon, Hairlishosly Extended, which opened last month in the Oxford Square Shopping Center.
Andersen and three other stylists work in Hairlishosly Extended, which offers cuts, coloring, extensions and all the other services of a full-service salon for women and men.
One of those stylists is her mother, Debbie Andrews, who has been in the hair business for 44 years as a stylist and instructor.
“I was raised in a beauty shop,” Andersen said.
Andrews owned a couple of salons in California. One of her jobs was doing studio work for the Gap Band and other performers on the “Soul Train” TV show.
Andrews, who was born in Wichita, moved back after the death of her father. She’s worked in several local salons and beauty colleges. Andersen followed two years ago.
“I hadn’t seen my mother in five years, and it was just killing me,” she said.
Andersen said she had long dreamed of owning her own hair salon. First, she spent 17 years working as a dental assistant. “I promised myself that before I was 40, I was going to change professions,” she said. “That was my present to me.”
She finished cosmetology school in December and started looking for a location for her salon. She chose the shopping center at 21st and Woodlawn because of its heavy traffic and fairly central location.
“It just seemed like it’d be a nice place to have a jazzy type salon,” she said as soft jazz played in the background.
Andersen said she designed her shop to offer privacy and an upscale environment to clients. In addition to a wall that blocks the salon stations from being viewed from the entrance, there are two private hair suites. Despite some bumps in the road with a contractor that caused a two-month delay, she’s happy with the result – although still looking forward to the installation of baseboards and a few other finishing touches.
Andersen said the demand for eyelash extensions and natural hairstyles that don’t use chemicals seems to be growing. But hair extensions remain extremely popular, with 75 percent of her customers getting them.
“You can just do so much with hair extensions that you can’t do with your own hair,” she said.
So far, being her own boss – and working with her mother – is everything she hoped it would be.
“We’ve been talking about this since 2008,” she said. “This has been my dream.”