How did we get invited to an evening fashion show and wine tasting at a hair salon? Despite its smart graphics, the email invitation gave no clue.
We phoned the salon and asked the pert British girl who answered. “I don’t know,” she said, “but, it doesn’t matter. Please come!”
We wondered if we’d be sipping wine amidst lighteners, brighteners, and conditioners as models tried to slink around shampoo sinks and manicure stations. And, knowing what we know about Sarasota, we were virtually certain the whole affair would be a thinly veiled hustle for something.
But as we had other errands on Lido, we decided to accept the invitation. We were throughly delighted to discover that our assumptions and reservations had been completely off-base and unfounded.
The fashion show was in full swing when we arrived at Les Ciseaux, a second-storey salon overlooking St. Armand’s Circle. The shop was pulsating in genuine celebration.
Angela Johnston, longtime team-member, had bought the entire business and was sharing the rewards of hard work. Seizing an opportunity to party with her co-workers, friends, clients, and community, she, too, was clearly having a grand time. Her young daughter in pipe-curls frolicked with other children. Angela’s sister, niece, and dad had flown in from England. We realized then that we’d been invited simply because we were folks from Angela’s neighborhood. (We’d just never known where she worked.)
The DJ was thoughtful enough to place his speakers on the balcony, outside the entrance to the shop, so the music and patter were audible but didn’t impede conversation. Because Les Ciseaux is a salon, mirrors are everywhere, but guests last night seemed more interested in each other than in their own reflections. The crowd was multi-generational and multi-ethnic. Lots of perfectly coiffed, pretty young things, but even friends with bad hair (or in a few cases, NO HAIR) felt welcome. Toddlers bounced around to rock and hip-hop. Their grandparents settled into cushy chairs.
What was really notable about this event was that NO ONE tried to market anything, even though Les Ciseaux—or any business with a St Armand’s rent to pay—can’t forget the bottom line. One had the feeling that this was truly a night off. The fashion show was laid back. No one named prices or said you’d have to diet for a year to fit into the little numbers from Foxy Lady, modeled by real women between twenty and fifty.
Two very suave bartenders with ready smiles poured wines as well as an arresting turquoise concoction: a nouvelle martini with fresh mint and Blue Curaçao liqueur.
For us, the tip-off that this really was a party, and not a promotion, was the food. Here was a buffet that did not scream its components had come from Sam’s Club. Many people had actually taken the time to prepare REAL FOOD. And it’s amazing how rare that has become.
Each offering was thoughtfully labeled with a small, delicately lettered tent-card so there was no mistaking that these were dishes someone had made, not bought. The diverse contributions of Peruvian potato salad; Ethiopian lentils with injera bread; homemade guacamole; silky, cumin-laced hummus bi tahina; and some very seductive sweets spoke volumes about how Angela’s friends and co-workers feel about her and her achievement.
Congratulations, Angela! Snip, snip, hooray! We wish you great success.
St. Armands Circle
6 N Blvd of Presidents
Sarasota, FL 34236