Salon life can't be easy. There's the everyday grind of attracting new clients and impressing them enough to turn them into devotees.

Salon life can't be easy. There's the everyday grind of attracting new clients and impressing them enough to turn them into devotees.

And then there's the challenge of standing out in the crowd - with hundreds of salons in the city, how can one make its mark?

Rob Ortiz is betting on graffiti art, flat-screen TVs, Craftsman toolboxes converted into countertops and stylists that take pride in their work.

Ortiz opened Cut 'N Blow salon in November after moving from New York and finding the salon scene visually lacking, he said.

One wall of Cut 'N Blow is exposed brick; the other is covered in a local artist's neon-colored graffiti. Dance tracks boom from the speakers, and runway shows loop on the TVs.

"I get to watch stuff that inspires me, and the customers dig it too," Ortiz said of the shows.

The salon offers a menu of services that includes hair painting. The technique involves painting highlights in staggered, natural-looking sections instead of starting at the top of the head, which is how highlights are generally applied. The result looks more natural and doesn't need to be re-done as soon as the hair starts to grow out, Ortiz said.

Good character

Here are a couple other Columbus salons that stand out for their personality:

Lucky 13

3131 N. High St., Clintonville

614-447-3313

lucky13salon.com

An independent, DIY spirit fills the space, and murals by local artists cover the walls. Clients feel the welcoming attitude as soon as they walk in the doors, owner Kathleen Hildenbrand said. (And walk-ins are welcome!)

"We're not trying to be fancy or elitist," she said. "We have everyone from scenesters to retirees coming in, and we like it that way."

Virtue Salon

3333 N. High St., Clintonville

614-725-2329

virtuevegansalon.com

Between the vintage salon chairs, the doodle-covered chalkboard walls and the beverages served in old Bell jars, this salon exudes relaxation. Virtue Salon has a feel-good vibe about it, both because of the calm environment and a commitment to vegan products. A barber was just hired to work with male customers, and the staff plans to start a vegetable garden out back this summer.