It’s shortly after noon, and even by L.A.’s generously loose norms of punctuality, the client is inordinately late—by nearly an hour.
Yet when she walks in, two women greet her with the warmest, most welcoming smiles you’ve seen in a long time—and for a moment you forget that you are at a hair salon around the corner from , on the south side of Colorado almost exactly between and .
But it’s not just the smiles that throw you, it’s also the décor: There’s very little here to remind you that this is a place where people get their hair done. (See photos.)
Perhaps the most confusing thing about Eagle Rock’s latest hair salon for women as well as men is its name: Sunday Morning. Just as you start to wonder why a business that isn’t even open on Sundays has such a name, you notice that Velvet Underground, the iconic 60s rock band managed by Andy Warhol, is playing. Their music (Sunday Morning was one of the band's more relaxed songs) fills the cozy little room, which has more potted plants than shampoo bowls, more crystals than clippers.
“Sunday morning to me is the day of the week that’s totally relaxed,” says Courtney Rice, who opened her salon on April 3 and happens to be a huge fan of Velvet Underground. Formerly an architect in New York, she grew to envy the relaxed schedules of hairdressers so much that she became one herself.
After a stint at Refuge, a hair salon in Echo Park where she met her friend and fellow stylist Lacy Thompson, Rice branched out on her own.
“The space really found me,” she says of Suite 5. Her husband, an art appraiser, consults with an entrepreneur next door. He returned home one day to their home in Highland Park and told Rice about an empty space in Suite 5, which had formerly housed a gym.
“It was the perfect location, perfect size,” explains Rice. “I wanted a small, intimate kind of space—it has all the charm in the world.” She adds: “It’s so great to come to work here every day—you feel like you’re home.”
Both Rice and Thompson are trained in balayage, a popular French technique of highlighting hair in which stylists use artists’ paint brushes to gives tresses a naturalistic look. The hair is literally “hand-painted,” with broad, sweeping strokes, says Rice, offering a glimpse into her philosophy of beauty.
“I think beauty is when you’re not trying so hard—it’s just your natural self, which can be brought out,” she says. “That’s what we try to provide—an easy vibe in which people can feel comfortable.”
In fact, the atmosphere in the salon is so appealing that “we have a hard time having clients leave sometimes,” says Rice. “People just stay and hang out.”
Its distinctly laid-back atmosphere is what makes Sunday Morning a one-of-a-kind place, and no object in the salon illustrates that feeling more than the chairs, which were fashioned from vintage chairs whose legs were cut off.
“My rule was, nothing black—no vinyl,” says Rice. “I wanted the chairs to have character and kind of be like bohemian meets modern and minimal—warm but airy and spacious at the same time.”
What do the stylists think of local salons such as , the hair lounge not far down east on Colorado Boulevard? "I'm sure they do great work, but I find that in hair styling you find your clientele and in that sense I don't think hair salons compete against each other," says Rice. "Everyone finds their home wherever they find their home—no one would appeal to our clientele except for us."
The local response has been very encouraging. “The Eagle Rock community has been welcoming us with open arms and local businesses have really embraced us,” says Rice, adding that Sunday Morning’s clients include the owners of stores such as , and .
“It’s a great little spot—casual and comfortable—and both the stylists are excellent,” says Lady’s owner Camille De Soto, who has had her hair cut at Sunday Morning. “They do really modern cuts and they’re reasonably priced.” (Click here to check out hairstyles on the Sunday Morning website.)
The stylists’ reputation isn’t just limited to this part of L.A. The lady who came in late to get her hair done, for example, had traveled all the way from Santa Barbara.