To keep your hair looking healthy, it’s suggested to have a cut every six weeks… I’m a little bit lazy so accidentally left it an awful lot longer than that this time around. My saviour? Japonica – the newest salon in the up-and-coming New England Road area. Focused on a meditative and botanical (hence the name) balance, the salon itself is welcoming and calm from the off. I visited on a recent Saturday afternoon and entered into a busy – but very relaxed – environment. Greeted by each team member with a genuine smile, I was given a little tour of the premises. I was also given a Bloody Mary (it was after 12pm, promise) to enjoy. Saturdays are a great time to visit as you can take your pick from smoothies or Bloody Marys – and master stylist Jack Bayne whips up a mean one. To add to the salon’s charm, the team offer fantastic discounts to NHS staff (20% off), artist/students/musicians (20% off), and a great incentive scheme for friends: recommend Japonica to someone you know and both of you will get 25% off!*
Inside, the finish of the place speaks for itself – handmade storage units punctuate each edge of the main room, with large clean mirrors and comfortable chairs give a light and relaxing feel. Potted plants are dotted around the main room, giving the space a nice nod to freshness and nature. Their garden will soon play host to a warm and cosy area. Currently a spacious paved garden, owner and internationally renowned stylist Jack plans to install fire pits, warm seating areas and soft lights to bring the magic of Japonica outside. Sitting down with Jack for a few minutes was a great indicator of how the salon works. Asking about my hair and actually listening to what I wanted is one thing that many stylists seem to ignore – his 20+ years in the industry was obvious from the first handshake. I was then whisked off to have a, frankly amazing, Indian-style head massage by senior stylist Armandine, a French hairdresser and makeup artist who really knows her stuff. The meditative focus came into play here – with a honed technique, this was the best way to get my cut underway.
I then went in for a hair wash with the lovely Georgia towards the back of the building and could smell the fresh air coming in from the garden. This certainly added to my understanding of the Japonica mission statement. Next, I was back in Jack’s chair to get down to business. The soft music playing in the background, and the lasting chilled out feeling I had from my massage, I could feel myself drifting off. I usually stare intently at magazines when at a salon (sometimes simply to avoid talking about holiday plans, etc) but Jack’s interesting stories and passion for his craft was far more interesting that this month’s glossies. As we chatted, I soon enough felt the centre of Jack’s attention. It’s a rare thing to find a stylist who will give you their undivided attention like this.
Saying hello to head of colour and fellow master stylist, Anne, I was told all about their products. Using a range called Davines, Japonica is able to boast their standing as the most (or at least one of the most) eco-friendly salons in the city. Davines’ ethical process takes them all the way from the farms their ingredients come from and even use sustainable energy to run their factories. Their products are not only great for colouring hair and maintaining quality, but they’re not tested on animals (which a surprising amount of their peers in fact do). The family-owned Italian company marries up with what Japonica is all about perfectly.
More than happy with my visit to Japonica, I eventually headed out. Walking out of such a zen zone to New England Road is a bit of a culture shock. I certainly wanted to turn around and go straight back into this oasis.
Japonica would like to invite BN1 readers down for a 25% first visit discount – just quote ‘BN1’ when booking and enjoy your treat!
*All discounts are subject to terms and conditions – ask in store or check online for more information.