Jennifer Negrette-Nairn and Shay Merchav Will Help You Reach Your Hair Goals
Written By: Priscilla Thomas-Nakane
Photographed By: Diane Lombardi
Experts: Jennifer Negrette-Nairn and Shay Merchav
Credentials: Co-Owners and Stylists at Beauty Beach Lounge
Favorite Hair Care Product: Jennifer loves 7SECONDS, a leave-in detangler by UNITE, and Shay is a fan of This Is A Dry Texturizer by Davines.
Jennifer Negrette-Nairn and Shay Merchav are the boss babe BFF’s of Beauty Beach Lounge—a hip and on trend hair salon for men and women in the heart of the up and coming Runway of Playa Vista. LOCALE sits down with this dynamic duo to learn the story of how they met, why they love working together and how much of their heart’s passion is poured into running a hair salon that is centered around the client, community and giving back.
Q: Tell us what sets Beauty Beach Lounge apart from other hair salons?
Shay Merchav: I think there’s a lot that sets us apart. There are so many salons throughout LA and each one will have its own set of characteristics; but for us, we are about giving back, and we are about the community. We’ve partnered up with a wonderful cancer research charity called Young and Brave Foundation and we hold an annual cut-a-thon for them where 100 percent of the proceeds from the haircuts and services we perform on that day go to them.
Jennifer Negrette-Nairn: It’s just something that really sits close to us, having had personal experiences with family members who’ve had cancer, and wanting to make a difference. We just really feel that if we are really going to do this [operating our own salon], and are able to make a living for ourselves and our future, then we just have to give back. We just think that is really important.
Shay Merchav: Absolutely. And our salon also provides a free makeover and styling to anyone who is donating their hair to any organization that makes wigs for cancer patients. They can just come in and enjoy a complimentary service on us, because they have given back. We also participate in so many other community events and fundraisers by donating gift certificates and raffle prizes for salon services, supporting local charity organizations, and being a part of community festivals and street fairs. We try to get our hands into everything we can be a part of because we just love being an active part of this community.
Q: You recently won LOCALE Magazine’s online poll for Favorite New Business in LA. How long have you been in business and what made you want to open a hair salon in LA?
JNN: We have been in business for about over a year. We opened on Feb. 29, 2016, which happened to be a leap year, so it was really special to us.
SM: We were both stylists for several other salons for several years first, so each of us always had the idea of opening our own salon in the back of our minds. I think Jenn knew right away, but for me it was a slower progression. I wanted to be sure that it was the right decision. There were so many factors that had to make sense. From finding the right location to having the right business partner, so when Jenn and I started to really talk about opening our own salon together, it was a no brainer; it just felt right. Plus, this community and what was being built here was so inspirational. Both of us had been working at other great salons on the Westside (Beverly Hills and West Hollywood), so when we came across an opportunity to open in this area, we were so excited because there was nothing here. Everything was a brand new build out and we just knew that it was going to be such an up and coming area, and there was such a great sense of community here. We really wanted to open a great neighborhood salon that anyone from anywhere could come to, feel comfortable, and get great service.
Q: What was your inspiration for the concept of Beauty Beach Lounge?
JNN: We treat our stylists like family too and that definitely trickles down. As owners, we never wanted our stylists to feel a hierarchy between us and them. Shay and I both work behind the chair at least four to five days a week, in addition to our ownership duties, and our prices are pretty much the same as everyone else’s. So again, as corny as it may sound, our true inspiration and concept came from our hearts.
SM: Our inspiration just really came from the heart. We wanted a salon that anyone could come to and feel comfortable in, so we just followed our hearts and that vision and we worked on it until it just felt right. We wanted it to feel like a place for beauty, near the beach, that you could lounge and feel relaxed in while being pampered or getting your service done.
JNN: Yes, we wanted everyone to walk in and feel like family.
SM: Yes! And that’s one of the comments we get most from our stylists, to our clients, and everyone else—they say that they just feel like family when they walk through the door. That’s what we wanted.
Q: As two strong female business owners, what were some of the challenges in opening a joint partnership business?
JNN: We honestly didn’t have any.
SM: We’ve been friends for over 15 years and have never fought, not once.
JNN: For me, it was honestly so easy to work together on this goal. We both wanted it. And because Shay is my best friend, literally like a sister to me, we have so much history together and I didn’t want to let her down. I wanted both of us to succeed in this. Shay is a single mother, and someone I truly admire, and we both needed to give 110 percent to see this through. For us, the key was balancing each other out. I used my business strengths and she used hers. There were days when I was stressed and then there were days where she was stressed and each of us could lean on the other to get things done. Neither of us had done this before and we had to build this place from the ground up with literally no previous experience in the mechanics of a new build out. I mean there was literally an empty building space for us to turn into our salon, no air conditioning, no walls, no fixtures or plumbing. We both had to learn about everything and really stick to our budget to make it all come together. We both learned together.
SM: We didn’t have problems as a partnership; our challenges were in building this salon from the ground up. It was bizarre because I think we both went into this having heard the horror stories and concerns of what could go wrong in a partnership, but none of that happened with us. We had each other’s back, we were each the backbone for each other and we never crashed at the same time. If one of us had doubts or concerns about something then the other one took over. And it’s still the same way, even after the salon being open for a while. I’m like, “Okay, when is the ball going to drop?” but it hasn’t. It’s been [like] a marriage, we work together and we’re both so lucky.
Q: What do each of you love most about running your own salon?
JNN: The freedom! No seriously, I think it’s being able to create a salon by taking the bits and pieces of what works from all the other salons we have worked at, and making it our own, without any of the things or the drama that didn’t work. We have the freedom to create this place to be all that we’ve truly ever dreamed of.
JNN: And also, I have learned so much from Shay. I had never managed a salon and she had, and so she has really been able to teach me so much about the management side of salon operations.
SM: The beautiful part of all this to me, is to see my best friend flourish and do so well as a business owner and to see us both living out our dream is just really amazing. And we also get to create a space that is so uniquely us. We like things to look a certain way, we are both very clean and wanted that to be a priority in our salon and now we can enforce it! Jenn and I are both very fun and we have created a very fun salon—our stylists have fun, our clients have fun and we love that.
Q: What is the most popular service you offer?
SM: There’s not just one. We’re pretty high volume so we do a ton of everything here. We do a ton of men’s hair, a ton of color, and again, a ton of extensions (and in every method on the market).
Q: So what hair care service do you each specialize in?
SM: My baby is extensions. That is what I eat, sleep, breath and dream about. I love and am obsessed with extensions.
JNN: My baby is color, specifically balayage. I absolutely love doing it.
Q: Describe your ideal client.
SM: I think for most stylists, your ideal client ends up being someone who is a lot like you, or has a style like you. As a stylist you have your own personal style down and replicating that on someone that has the same style is really the ideal.
Q: Who has been your favorite celebrity client?
JNN: I would definitely have to say Elizabeth Taylor. While working at Jose Eber Salon, I had the opportunity to style her hair for a red carpet event and she was just the most amazing person.
SM: For me, it’s been Carmen Electra. She’s just so beautiful, and so incredibly kind and humble. I used to do her extensions, and we’d have a blast together, she’s just so fun. We both came from a dancer background; I was a dancer and even taught hip hop before I got into doing hair, and she was a dancer, so we just bonded.
Q: Describe what a first-time client can expect to experience at Beauty Beach Lounge.
SM: I like to offer the beer and wine first. Our male clients love that they can have a beer here.
JNN: They then get introduced to their stylist who starts working on them; from that point on, it’s a very personable experience between them and their stylist.
SM: What Jenn and I really focus on at Beauty Beach Lounge is that it’s a salon for the clients. The clients are the center of everything. We love our clients and they are the priority. We are 100 percent satisfaction guaranteed for the client. We offer full money back on product, tools and services if the client isn’t 100 percent satisfied. We also offer our amazing discount on haircuts for first-time clients.
Q: What are your future plans for Beauty Beach Lounge?
SM: It’s definitely growth for us. Right now we are soaking it all in when it comes to the success of the salon, but ultimately it’s looking towards growing the brand. We’ve been so fortunate in this past first year and a half or so of business and in the future, whether it’s a product line, or another location, we are definitely looking for growth of the business.
JNN: With that being said, we are committed to not losing sight of who we are and what we stand for in wanting to keep the salon authentic to our vision.
Hot Spots: Shay’s go-to spot for her favorite shishito peppers and unfiltered sake is Irori Japanese Restaurant in Marina Del Rey. Jennifer’s favorite LA eateries are Paco’s Tacos and Sakura Sushi House.
Strut Your Style: Jennifer is a little bit beachy and a little bit rock n’ roll. Shay is either athletic and fresh faced with a ponytail and great workout clothes or full blown “babe” status with glam hair and makeup.
Inside Jokes: Jennifer and Shay never call each other by their real names. They call each other “Shark” or “Sharky,” interchangeably, and it’s been that way since they were new friends in their early 20s.
Indulge: Clients can enjoy a cold beer, refreshing mimosa or a beverage of their choice during their haircut or service. Beauty Beach Lounge also provides pastries and mimosas on Saturdays and the occasional happy hour for special salon events.
Beauty Beach Lounge
12751 W Millennium Dr, Ste 125
Los Angeles, CA 90094