Festoon News

Nicaragua – Books, Colonial homes, Horses, and Beach Life

PicMonkey Collage

A journey was what I was looking for.  I needed 1) a path not too well traveled, 2) safety for the family, 3) an opportunity to make a difference, and 4) something not too far.

Check, check, check and check – Nicaragua.  Once we honed in on a destination… the research and planning began.

The first thing I consider when making vacation plans are travel times. It’s true. Nothing like a bad flight or 30 hours of travel to ratchet up the body and feel like you got ran over by a truck. A red eye on Avianca Airlines (famous for those of you who have watched Narcos) was the fastest. 6 hours. SFO to El Salvador 5.5 hours, to another gate, hop on another plane, and then down to Granada in 40 min. (And being completely shameless, John, was able to save us over $200 for checking in our 200 lbs of books. Everyone loves helping out kids!)

And how did we end up with 200 lbs of books?!  Thanks to you!  The super giving Festoon community and my loving friends and family.  When I initially decided on Nicaragua,  I wanted to find out what we could do there to contribute to their community.  I wanted to do something, not just be another tourist. So, I connected with an international school in Granada, Nicaragua. I researched the school, their vision, and the curriculum. I thought it was a perfect match.

Next step for me was to setup a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for books for the school.  It was my first time using GoFundMe. I thought it was great. Our goal was $2,000 and thanks to friends, clients, family, and angels I’ve never met… we raised $3,100 for Books, Balls and Uno!

Getting the books delivered, before we were scheduled to leave, that was another story. This is where Amazon Prime came in. I’m not a lover of what Amazon Prime does to the environment and the loss of business to small businesses can be devastating… however, I thought this was a win/win. We ordered from small book stores and got the books within a week. The big name book retail sites were going to take 3 weeks! Who has 3 weeks to wait when there is a trip to plan?

Finally, we arrived in Granada and managed to find our Colonial House. This was our BIG splurge. Was it like the photos? Oh yes, but even better because it was in person!

What to do in Granada?
First stop for us was the International School. We arrived at 1:00 just after lunch. Greeted by kids, teachers and Beth the director. How does it feel to create an entire Spanish Library?  Amazing.  The smiles were beyond rewarding.  And our kids read to the first graders… in English of course!

Then we swam, ate, and toured our way through Granada!

  • Ziplining –  a must. They take great care of you. And, flying like superman is always a good time.
  • Horseback riding here is divine. The kids were able to have a real horseback lesson. They learned how to ride bareback, and no hands. Glad I didn’t see that. There are real horse people here. Beautiful
  • See live Masaya Volcano at night.
  • Zen Yoga –  I had great teachers. And, its right in town.
  • Our favorite beach – Escamequita- for 4 days. At night, during the day, playing….
  • Day Trip – San Juan Del Sur – a beach town that was dedicated to surfers and backpackers (one knows this because of the hostels on every block). Its about 20 miles north of Costa Rica! Its a 2 hour drive from Granada. Easy, freeway driving. Only a few cows to maneuver.
  • Eat in San Juan Del Sur – Choose the beautiful restaurant G & G. Where they served the most amazing risotto with lobster for 14.00. Or the Curry King where the German Chef truly takes pride in his food.

There is so much to do, I wish we had more time. One of the things we enjoyed the most is the people known as Nicas. They are warm, grateful, and excited to share what they know and have. They are truly a genuine lot.

And to answer all of your questions:

· Is it safe? YES! There is petty crime so don’t wear your best jewels and walk away from your phone (BTW don’t do that at home too)

· It seems so far! NO, its like going to Hawaii

· I don’t speak Spanish! So, smile a lot, and the Nica’s will keep talking at you in Spanish till you figure it out.

Just go, now, soon, before everyone else does. I’m going back in July. Join me then.


P.S. I wouldn’t recommend the places we rented… however, I do recommend this gem of a spot – Yassers place. Tell him John and Melissa sent you!



Melissa’s New Year Inspirations


I am so happy to say hello to 2017. I am filled with a desire for positive change. I have heard this same desire repeatedly from everyone inside the salon, behind the chair and beyond. 2016 was fraught with changes we could’ve never predicted. I’ve seen people debilitated with fear and sadness. And, on the other side, I’ve seen friends and family reach out at a grassroots level and work to make a difference locally.

Our world is made up of many communities like ours where we can create change in small and large ways. We can use our purchasing power to support the businesses we love. We can volunteer our time to support the hungry and the elderly. We can make a difference every time we choose where we vacation and then take that opportunity to act locally, impact their community.

This year my word of the year is “choice”. Why? Because all our actions, including spending power and words, are our choice. It is when we don’t feel that we have a “choice” that we are powerless. We feel like it is out of our hands, and we become victims of “them”.

We will be looking at our choices at Festoon. Here is what we are excited about so far:

We are bringing in a beautiful new product line based in the essence of teas – a “clean” hair care line from the UK. Festoon will be the first salon in the US to carry it. It will be arriving in February. More news on Windle and Moodie to come.
We are putting together a “Make A Difference” Team at Festoon to focus us on how we can do better in our community.
We will be re-branding and remodeling this year to update, renew, and offer you a better experience.
Some of you may have noticed I took a hiatus from writing the last half of 2016. I just didn’t have it in me….

My dear younger sister passed away on August 31st from brain cancer. She had fought for 3 years. I traveled back and forth between the Bay Area and Huntington Beach as frequently as I could. Nothing prepared me for the love, courage, and support I witnessed.

Of late, I have been recovering and reevaluating what is important to my family, Festoon and the world at large. I realized that I needed to spend some time with my family, regroup. My first idea was to go away for 2 weeks with my family and a few dear friends to Nicaragua. Why? As a dear friend once said to me “I don’t know… why do I do half the things I do?”

Let me just say that I was pulled to choose Central America. Part of my love for travel is the research that is involved. As I delved deeper, I learned the great economic divide that plagues that country. We all know about Haiti… Nicaragua is right behind them.

In my research, I connected with a school that opened a few years ago. Their mission and commitment to the community inspired me. I wanted to help. I have setup a GoFundMe campaign to help bring books to Nicaragua. My family invites all of you to share in the giving.


I want to thank each one of you who have supported Festoon over the last 28 years. It is our hope that we continue to be relevant in your life and the salon of your choice. You drive us to try to make the best choices: to continue to grow technically, curate the absolute best products available for our hair, body and planet, educate; and to teach the next generation how to be the best hairdressers possible. And most importantly to be here to serve our community.

Much love and gratitude,

Adventures in Ubud, Bali

Bali PicMonkey Collage

Adventures in Ubud

A journey of community and meaning 


I just returned from a retreat in Ubud, Bali where I had the privilege of diving into work — and life — in the presence of some amazing women.


For me it is important to continually stretch and challenge myself, to go out of my comfort zone and learn new things on a regular basis. I do this through travel, through entrepreneurship, and through motherhood…but one of my favorite ways to do this is to hang out with people who inspire and encourage me! 


Being a member of The Womens Presidents Organization, or WPO, introduces me to incredible people like Jacqueline Wales, author and executive coach, who hosted the retreat at her home in Bali, Villa Pantulan. And what a villa it was! 


I signed up for the retreat without knowing exactly what to expect. Luckily I’d been to Bali before and knew it wouldn’t disappoint. Between the beauty of Bali and the company of four brilliant WPO friends, I was willing to travel halfway around the world…leaving John in charge of our business and the two kiddos.


Each day the retreat started with meditation and yoga. Afterwards we would immerse ourselves in 2-hour work sessions. These sessions were deeply engaging and asked all of us to surrender to the work at hand. It was an intense process and well-suited to the milestone birthday I’m celebrating this year as I turn 50. 


We would finish our work, rewarded with a beautiful lunch cooked by Made (pronounced Maday) and Kayun. And after a morning of hard work, we needed a good meal!


The afternoons were spent sightseeing, exploring local culture and doing some shopping. One day we were initiated by a local high priestess in a cleansing ritual. Jaqueline introduced to so many amazing local people, she is well-loved there in Ubud and makes a wonderful guide!


One of my morning work sessions reminded me of my deep commitment to supporting hand-made, local, environmental sustainable products. It reinforced the fact that unique products with ethical standards are a cornerstone of our business at Festoon, and always has been.   


With this in mind, on the hunt I went for well-made local goods!


I spent a day at The Green School, The Green Village, and Green Bamboo Factory.  The inspiration came from a Ted Talk with John Hardy.


My interpretation of his message is that when a person’s vision becomes a realization and truly impacts the community around them, it will either drive others to think they are crazy, or it will become an inspiration to others to do the same. Follow your vision and do your own small part to change the world. Thank you John Hardy and thank you Green Village for such a good example!


John (my husband John, not John Hardy) asked me to visit the factory where the majority of the silver pieces are made for our Rose & Thorn Jewelry collection. I was truly in awe of the craftsmanship done by each of these Balinese artisans.


The factory insists on a clean and healthy environment. Their wages are also higher than local teachers and nurses. I watched the artisans begin the day with a ceremony before getting to work. Their craft, their family and their spiritual life is a cohesive whole. Witnessing this reminds me how my seemingly minor choices as a business owner in the U.S. can impact a global paradigm shift towards justice and sustainability. Small choices add up to collective change.


In the spirit of finding similar local artisanal goods, Jacqueline recommended a Batik Ikat store with very beautiful things. The quality was excellent and they carried contemporary, on-trend designs which was exciting! The owner, Kadek, and her little girl were to meet with me and introduce me to the line. Kadek, one of the main designers, explained the process of her designs, the labor practices, and her commitment to local women’s collectives and providing a working wage for community. She also introduced me to her line of bath and body products…sublime.


Lucky for you all, I picked out silk scarves, gorgeous cotton textiles, beautiful hand made soaps, bath salts, scrubs and facial masks to bring home for our holiday gift selection at Festoon! In offering these handmade items for you to give as holiday gifts, we can all know we are helping women on the other side of the world find independence. I know you will also find the inherent quality, beauty and value in these items.


Devoting time and resources to powerful experiences – such as attending this retreat in Bali – is a practice that I am committed to in my life. These small bursts of intense work further my growth, enhance my life and can be fit into the juggle of my life as a business owner, wife and mother. 


I invite you all to consider how you might find opportunities to engage in growth opportunities. How explorations and journeys that stretch you out of your comfort zone might fit into your life. These trips can be closer to home than Bali, they can even be online immersion programs or they can be weekly commitments to a group or cause that leaves you feeling full in mind and heart like my membership in WPO. But my invitation to you all for 2016 is to try and find ways to grow yourself while growing a better world at the same time. Each of our efforts informs the whole.


Here’s to a healthy and happy new year!




NYC On The Fly

NYC Collage

I’m trying to remember the last time I was in New York.  I think it was about 5 years ago… much too long between visits to my very favorite city in the world!

Last month we finally got to make a trip to NYC for the grand opening of the first Davines atelier in North America – one of only three Davines flagship salons across the globe.

To our surprise and delight Davines generously offered us a spur of the moment, all expenses paid trip as a thank you for being one of their top 10 salons in the country.  (Yay Festoon!  You all helped us get there!)

Invitations went out to a select group of successful salon owners who could provide clear, constructive feedback on the products, training, service and experience of working with Davines.  We were thrilled to have an opportunity to offer our insights

John and I decided to book a red eye flight so we could take advantage of a full day for adventure, before our day of class at the new Davines studio. Additionally, I scheduled our return flight for late in the day following our day at the studio, so we could do more sightseeing before returning home.  We love New York; why not make the most of it?!

Day 1

Our plane touched down at JFK at 5:00 AM, and we took a cab to our hotel, The Ludlow Hotel, on the Lower East Side.  Great location with stylish decor, this hotel is super cool.  Even at 6:00AM with very little sleep, I loved everything about it.  Arriving way too early for check-in, we left our bags with the concierge and went off to explore.

Pros of NYC in July?  Everyone has gone to the Hamptons so you have the city to yourself! Everything is on sale. And, New Yorkers, bored because no one is there, are very playful and happy to see you!

Cons?  It’s very hot and muggy.  Did I say muggy?  And hot?  We happened to be there during the hottest two days in two years.  How lucky.

Food is one of the city’s best highlights.  So, one of the first priorities in NYC is visiting a classic New York deli.  Conveniently of us,  Katz’s Deli is right on the corner, near the Ludlow Hotel. Katz’s has been an NYC icon for years.  Remember the famous scene from when Harry Met Sally, when the little old lady wanted to order what Meg Ryan was having?  Yeah, that is Katz’s Deli.  :)

After our meat overload (think pastrami sandwiches that could feed a small village), we walked through our favorite neighborhoods: Little Italy (my personal favorite) and SoHo. Walking the city is the perfect way to stumble upon great people-watching opportunities.  We happened on a park where people gathered for Sunday morning yoga and then stayed for a nap in the shade.

The nap was enough of a break that I figured we were ready for our next meal. Since I am gluten free, dairy free and other things free, this can be tricky. Luckily for me, Spring Street Natural Restaurant had lots of tasty options for even my nearly zero-tolerance diet.

Somehow the hours slipped by until we could, you guessed it, eat again!  That evening, John and I met up with some friends at Dirty French, the restaurant in our hotel. With a name as intriguing as “Dirty French,” I had to ask about the story behind it. Our server referenced a dirty martini and said “That’s how we kinda do French food here. It’s French but it’s a little dirty.” I loved that answer. We loved the food and the ambiance, too.

After dinner and our long day of exploring, we were ready to get some sleep in our perfectly decorated little room.  Tiny NYC room, but big city decor for sure.

Day 2

Work day.  We arrived at the new Davines studio right on time. The space looked beautiful and John and I were ready to go. I immediately recognized the owners, Marco Santini and Leonardo Manetti, from our old editorial Bumble and bumble days! Seeing our longtime colleagues was a lovely treat.  After a bit of reminiscing, we got straight to work.  Marco and Leo led the class and demonstrated the looks we were going to learn that day on gorgeous professional models.

After the demonstration, we got to pick which look we wanted to experiment with. I chose the hair sewing (what’s that, right?!), and John opted for the small braids and the ponytail. Then, our models walked in. They were professional, too, which was great! They looked beautiful and encouraged us in our work (and texted on their phones, of course). All the stylists there were working on different looks and the whole salon was buzzing. John was working on his braiding while I rekindled my backcombing skills… and voila, two gorgeous looks.  And, check out this great video that Davines made documenting the day.  John and I are special guest stars!

After we were finished recording the day’s work with photographs, we had a few hours to kill before dinner with our friends and colleagues. I got to sneak in a bit more window shopping and inspiration for me!

Dinner was a short walk away to Huertas a Basque inspired restaurant. The food was delicious and it was accompanied by more hair talk with other salon owners. So ended Day 2, with great food and great company!

Day 3

John and I woke up, packed and strategized on the best things to do in our last few hours before a 4:00 PM flight. FYI- always be careful to not book a flight after 4:00PM!  Traffic gets awful and you can easily miss your flight.

We chose to spend our last few hours at the new Whitney Museum and a walk on the High Line. The beautiful thing is they are right next to each other! Also nearby is the Gansevoort Market, a great place for casual dining and picking up food to go. We got some great eats for the plane.  A bit of an NYC picnic to enjoy while we headed back to the Bay Area.

We wrapped up our trip with an Uber ride through heavy traffic, back to JFK.  Next time I won’t wait so long to call a cab… and I definitely won’t wait so long to visit NYC ever again.  Promise!


Your Local Mom & Pop Shop

buy local

Just as the culinary world coined the term “Localvore” to encourage eating locally, we believe that this idea of sourcing locally extends to your neighborhood bookstore, auto mechanic, and yes, even to your hair salon!

We at Festoon Salon are embarking on a Why Buy Local? campaign and we want to share this journey with you!  Over the next few months, we will highlight local businesses that are unique and special, places we love, where innovative owners are offering a range of dynamic choices right here in our own community. What makes businesses unique and special?  It’s providing products and services that you can’t find elsewhere.  But, even more importantly, it is about creating relationships.  We believe that it is not enough to utilize social media and exist in a virtual community.

We need real-life communities that are vibrant with connection; the best businesses provide these vital relationships.  When clients come to Festoon for our exceptional services and products, they also enter a world of connections – a network of people who share a neighborhood, a community, and interests. Perhaps that business opportunity that you have been looking for will be sitting in the salon chair next to you! What do we feel makes us unique and special?

This is the Festoon Manifesto:
We believe that feeling beautiful changes how we see the world.
We believe that creating beauty makes us better human beings.
It is our intention that our salon is a sanctuary for kindness, service and harmony.
Drama has no place in our salon.
We select well-curated products, which represent our values.
We believe that staying the same is boring.
We believe people can change (if they want to).
We believe in doing great work; therefore working hard is fun.
We believe in partnering with sustainably responsible companies.
We believe constant evolution is necessary for growth and prosperity.
We believe in “Every Client, Every Time”, that we can meet every individual’s beauty needs.
We believe that when we are inspired that we are our truest selves.
We know that our medium is hair and that our relationships inform the work that we do.
We believe that through learning the skills of our craft at the highest level, we elevate ourselves to be our most creative.

Festoon is a salon of interconnectedness in which the success of one builds the success of all.  But, what do we do that makes us unique and special?
~We train for an additional 2-4 years after beauty school to make sure we are the best.
~​We are open 7 days a week so that we are available at your convenience.
~We continually educate ourselves on the latest techniques throughout the year.
~We are a laboratory, constantly testing new and innovative hair care products.

We love our craft.  Our team is committed to hairdressing and creating your most gorgeous self.  We are known for our upscale services, but we also offer promotions in our monthly newsletter.  And, we have a broad price range, so that when times are tough, or you want a less expensive haircut for your teen, or you need a last minute blowout for a party, you can book at a reduced rate with one of our experienced Apprentices.

We also guarantee everything!  What?!  Yes.  If you are not completely satisfied with your service or product, you may get your hair redone or exchange your product for something new.  We aim to exceed your expectations!

We promise smiles, beauty, the best products, and stylists who know how to make the right recommendations.  We know you have many choices.  Sure you may be able to pay less by shopping online, but buying product through us ensures that we continue to give back, to employ your neighbors, and to strengthen our community.  We are a team of 40 employees and we shop locally, too!


We believe…in inner beauty, and doing what you can on the outside…

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