The whooshing and humming of a half-dozen blow-dryers didn't faze Kerry Keys and Lindsay Fisher. The close friends were toasting Keys' 23rd birthday at the newly opened Blowout Bar near Grandview Heights - with complimentary Champagne, a "semiprivate" screening of the chick flick You've Got Mail and a fresh hairdo.
The whooshing and humming of a half-dozen blow-dryers didn’t faze Kerry Keys and Lindsay Fisher.
The close friends were toasting Keys’ 23rd birthday at the newly opened Blowout Bar near Grandview Heights — with complimentary Champagne, a “semiprivate” screening of the chick flick You’ve Got Mail and a fresh hairdo.
No cut, no color, no perm — just a shampoo and styling.
“We were pampering ourselves,” Fisher, a 22-year-old Ohio State University student, said as she and Keys, a supermarket manager, each paid $35 for a 45-minute appointment.
“But it was very productive.”
The Blowout Bar — a blow-dry-only salon that touts relaxation and fun girl time — was opened on Oct. 12 by sisters Kristin and Kailen Kouvas.
It marks the second such establishment introduced recently to the Columbus area.
Styleout, which Rafi Qureshi opened on Oct. 4 at Easton Town Center, is billed as the first.
The modern version of the roller set, a blowout is designed for any woman — a student, grandmother, professional or stay-at-home mom — who has neither the time nor the motivation to do her own hair, the Kouvas sisters said.
Blowout-only salons have been popular on the coasts for at least several years, said Qureshi, 34, of Dublin.
Blow, among the earliest blow-dry bars, opened in 2005 in New York.
Another salon there, Drybar, has expanded to 33 locations nationwide in three years.
“Nobody was focusing on this in the Midwest,” Qureshi said. “When I first saw this concept, I thought: ‘We are missing this in Columbus.’”
Qureshi, who this week opened a Styleout in Pittsburgh and next week will open one in Boston, thinks the concept suits Columbus because of its strong fashion culture.
The Kouvas sisters, both Downtown residents, were sold on the concept after visiting a Drybar in New York a few years ago.
“We’re always go, go, go,” Kristin, 30, said of their annual trips to the Big Apple.
“This saved us time by not having to shower.”
Whenever they traveled, they looked for blowout bars.
“Then we’d come back to Ohio and wish we had one here,” said Kailen, 27.
They finally decided to open one after a friend, a recent transplant from Dallas, asked them in July 2012 about the nearest blow-dry bar — and they didn’t have a place to recommend.
“It isn’t just a trend in the big cities,” Kailen said. “It’s a new thing in the beauty industry and a way to treat yourself in a quick and convenient way.”
“No matter where you are,” Kristin added, “women are still going to be women. They still have to go to dinner parties, or they still hate doing their hair.”
With a rustic motif, boasting reclaimed Ohio barn wood in most of the fixtures, the Blowout Bar seeks to provide relaxation during a lunch hour, after work or ahead of a big event. (Blow-dry salons often serve prom, bachelorette and wedding parties.)
Guests are offered coffee or Champagne before hitting the hair-washing sinks.
Most looks — with names such as Cosmo, Flirtini and Bahama Mama — are accomplished using a round brush and a blow-dryer, Kailen said.
With some choices, extra curls are added.
Styleout, on the other hand, features a more modern decor, with white leather chairs and — through the middle of the shop — a granite countertop bar.
The business concept, though, is the same.
Women choose among styles such as the Stargazer (a design for “being on a beach looking at the stars”); Muse (“an artistic expression, a curly look”); or Icon (“a voluminous look like hair icon Marilyn Monroe”), marketing director Erin Blubaugh said.
A blowout typically lasts three to five days.
For an extra fee, a Styleout patron might get an updo, a nail-polish refresher or a makeup application, she said.
(The Blowout Bar doesn’t offer makeup but provides a space for women to do their own powdering.)
Like any other good bar, the shop has a happy hour — featuring half-off blowouts on certain weekday afternoons.
The greatest challenge for Qureshi: educating customers.
Danielle Hess, who only recently learned from a neighbor about blowout bars, stopped by Styleout before a Halloween party.
“It’s a good in-between place, especially if you can’t get into your normal hair person,” said Hess, 35, of New Albany.
Traditional salons, Qureshi acknowledged, sell blowouts, too.
“But they have so many other responsibilities; it’s not their focus,” he said. “The stylists here do it all day long.”
Charles Penzone, which has listed a “shampoo style” for decades, changed the name in March to “ blowout” to make it more recognizable, said Jena Huffman, assistant director of marketing for the chain.
A little more than a year ago, the Jolie Laide Hair Salon in German Village created Blow by J.L. to cater to customers wanting a just-from-the-salon look without the higher cost and longer appointment.
Blowout customers are tended at stations in the front.
“My clients, they always say they can never re-create my looks at home,” stylist Stephanie Isbestor said.
So, instead, “They can rock their style a couple of days and come back later in the week.”