Wichita now has what appears to be its first oxygen bar, and it’s all because a girl “met a boy.”
That’s how Jennifer Steadman describes it.
Steadman has been a hair stylist for 22 years and has owned a salon in Hutchinson for the last nine years.
She met Wichitan Scott Short a couple of years ago and started daily two-hour round trips between the cities. Finally, she and Short decided to open their own salon here. Steadman says her first thought was to open in Maize so it could be closer for her Hutchinson clients.
“But when I got here, downtown, and experienced downtown and the people and the potential, I guess I would say it was a no-brainer,” she says.
“I fell in love with it. It’s so cool down here and so artistic. It’s where I want to be.”
Since she doesn’t have a clientele here, Steadman says she thought, “What can I do that’s going to drive traffic?”
She was introduced to oxygen bars during a trip to Las Vegas and decided that could be her draw.
Steadman expects the oxygen bar to be the biggest draw.
It’s perhaps no coincidence that it’s in Old Town.
“It’ll knock a hangover out.”
Steadman says people naturally take in 20 percent oxygen when they breathe, but her oxygen bar offers “90 percent pure oxygen, and then that’s mixed with aromatherapy.”
There are 18 flavors, such as strawberry, vanilla, orange and cotton candy, and there are more therapeutic flavors such as lavender, spearmint and eucalyptus. There are some blends, such as one called anxiety release.
“They can energize you,” Steadman says. “They can calm you down. That just gives you an over-all good feeling.”
Each customer gets a personal cannula, which is a thin tube with two prongs that insert into someone’s nose to release the oxygen.
For a $1 a minute, customers can choose what Steadman calls “a 10-minute quickie” session or up to 30 minutes.
An oxygen barista — “Isn’t that cute?” Steadman says — also will administer a two-minute back massage with a hand-held massager and hook up a TENS unit to the customer to send electric pulses on the upper and lower back.
“That’s what I got the most out of,” Steadman says. “My boyfriend got the most out of the oxygen because he had a hangover.”
Besides the oxygen bar, Steadman says she specializes in color and hair extensions.
She says when her customers come to see her, they often say something along the lines of, “It’s time for hair therapy again.”
That’s why she chose to says “t-HAIR-apy” in her new salon name.
“I just thought it was a fun play on words.”
The salon and oxygen bar will have a grand opening next weekend.
“This situation wouldn’t work in Maize. It wouldn’t work in east Wichita.”
Steadman is still driving to Hutchinson one day a week to see clients, but she says she’s eager to attract new ones in Wichita, too.
She says the oxygen bar likely will be the draw to get them into her salon, “but then they could be so enticed by our environment they might want to come into our tribe.”
“It’s just a fun place, you know?”