Chai Collins learned to love and respect the environment growing up near North County’s coastline, where she was surrounded by natural beauty. When college rolled around, she went out to see the rest of the world and was captivated by Laon, France, for its laidback and intimate approach to life.
“When you go to a salon there, it feels like you could be in your friend’s living room,” she recalls. “It’s very comfortable, and you never feel rushed.”
Now that she’s back home, Collins is launching Leu Leu Beauty Bar on Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia—and fittingly, it combines her love of nature with her appreciation for Laon’s tailored approach to small business.
Leu Leu Beauty Bar is divided into two portions: one side is dedicated to hair and the other to nails. Cut and styling services range $25 to $35—and a manicure or pedicure will run you anywhere from $14 to $68, depending on how many extra pampering perks you’d like to add. Clients also have the option of using the standard salon line of products, or for few more dollars, they can opt of the eco-friendly line, which means the products are 98 percent organic.
If you’re heading out for a night on the town, you can come in and have your hair styled depending on the look you want—everything from sleek straight to tasseled waves to partial up-dos. And if you’ve got your girlfriends in tow for a special event like a bachelorette or birthday party, you can book a group reservation. Makeup appointments are also available for special occasions.
“Ultimately, my goal has been to create a place where women can come to feel beautiful and have access to top-of-the-line products that won’t compromise the environment or their health,” said Collins, who is launching her own business after a public relations stint with Dove’s Beauty campaign and developing her own line of eco-friendly nail polish, Surf and City. “I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist—but I worked very hard to get it right."
Collins says she hopes it’s clear to customers that she poured her passions into the business—and though they may not realize it, there’s even a nod to her childhood incorporated. The salon’s icon is a bird in a cage, a pet she always wanted as a child. Her mom went so far as to buy the cage, but never committed to bird, so it became a running joke in her home. And the salon’s name, Leu Leu, is a play on Leucadia, the community she felt was the perfect fit for her concept.