New shop opens in Montclair Village

OAKLAND -- Montclair Village has a new shop on the block. Isabella Hair Spa, located at 6122 La Salle Ave., opened its doors to business a few weeks ago.

Contrary to its name, everything that goes on in this salon involves water. The shop is dedicated to all aspects of hair care with the exception of cutting and coloring. The salon offers washing -- complete with an extensive scalp massage -- and styling services in a soothing environment.

"I wanted to bring a little of Southeast Asia to Montclair," said owner Nguyen Uyen, a native of Vietnam.

"At home (in Vietnam), we don't wash our hair at home," Uyen said. A visit to the salon is a social activity. "It's the equivalent of going to a bar here.

"We are very busy here," Uyen said. "In general, life is very isolating. We need leisure and human touch. We need a little glamour and relaxation that is affordable."

The practice is rooted in "the ancient Hindi method of massaging the head to clear the buildup of negative energy and reduce stress, pain, baldness or hair loss. In our modern life, we spend so much time inside our head both for our jobs and our obsession with minimizing future risks," Uyen said.

"I came (to the salon) last week and I loved it," said Dana Louis, an Oakland hills resident. "It (my style) lasted a long time. People aren't familiar with the Hair Spa here. I'm originally from Turkey and we do this all the time. It's affordable and it gives you a polished look."

Keisha Bigbie, a stylist at the salon, said: "You should be able to walk down the street and your hair says everything. I get excited when I see what I have created. In other salons you don't create without cutting and coloring. It's different here."

The Hair Spa offers a variety of services focused above the neck, including hair washing and styling, mini facials, makeup application and facial waxing.

Uyen mixes ancient practices from her homeland with traditional western hair remedies.

She washes hair in a tea made from a fruit called boket, which is known for minimizing hair loss.

Uyen also offers a full line of western products. All products in the salon are natural based, paraben and sulfate free.

In 2008, Uyen opened the Isabella Nail Bar on Mountain Boulevard in Montclair Village. The salon is dedicated to natural nail care and salon services.

Uyen said that she was attracted to Montclair Village because it was "diverse, down-to-earth, friendly and open-minded. It was just a feeling that I had (that my business would work here). I saw a need. I'm offering an experience, not just a product. It's the experiences that you remember."