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Sola Spotlight: Julie Manuel image

Julie Manuel, a Bayou expert in hair and make-up, has been styling since the 80s, and hasn’t abandoned her career once -- not even when her hometown was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Since January 2014, Julie has enjoyed a new chapter in her thriving career at Refreshed Salon at Sola Salons New Orleans.

“I went to beauty school right after high school, and have been doing hair ever since,” Julie explains, unequivocally adding, “I love it, and always have loved it.” The stylist’s steadfast passion was first sparked at a grade school slumber party when a few friends showed Julie how to braid hair. “I just had a knack for hair,” Julie recalls. Like most newbies, Julie started her career working as a commissioned employee.

Early on, she (briefly) tried her hand at traditional salon ownership when the opportunity fell into her lap. “I was very young, and the one thing I did learn was that having employees is a lot to deal with,” Julie says. Before long, Julie was back to working for the man, and spent 19 years at a salon before venturing into booth renting. In a booth rental salon, though, Julie quickly discovered stylists don’t have control over… well… anything!

Julie knew she was ready to control her career, and that’s about the time she received a postcard from Sola Salon Studios, a new concept coming to New Orleans. After months of mulling things over -- and a few more months of convincing her husband! -- Julie couldn’t resist. “Sola offered the best of both worlds,” she says. Julie feels the perks of being the boss without having to manage people. Her salon is private without being obscure thanks to brand recognition, a can’t-miss-it building and a network of stylists eager to help one another.

Best of all, Julie’s studio aesthetic represents its owner. “I’m creative,” Julie explains. “I love that I can paint the walls whatever color I want." (Currently, hers are a bright, creamy hue that emulates sunlight.) Julie hangs pieces from local painters, and her soap dispenser was blown by a New Orleans glass artist. “I like to help small businesses by displaying their work and keeping business cards,” Julie says. Most artists return the favor by referring clients.

Julie was in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. She left town, then came back two weeks later. “Literally as soon as the power went back on people started coming in to the salon in groves,” Julie remembers. “They couldn’t fix the leaks in their roofs or the trees that were down all over town, but they could fix their look.” Hair, Julie realized, is one thing people can control. Throughout her career, Julie has always appreciated how something as simple as fresh color or a new cut can make somebody feel beautiful -- or whole -- again. She’s worked with cancer survivors, teaching them hair and make-up tricks while providing a little TLC. The feeling Julie gets after a client hugs her -- well, that’s how Julie knows she’s in the right industry.

For more information about Julie Manuel and Refresh Salon, please visit http://www.refreshsalon.net/ For more information about Sola Salons New Orleans, click here.