New Iwakuni salon opens to raves

Expanded facility's 'high-end ambiance' a hit with customers

By GREG TYLER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 17, 2005

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — Both Marine Corps Community Services officials and customers are giving Head to Toe, the new unisex salon here, the thumbs-up.

MCCS officials call the salon, recently opened in the Crossroads Mall, “world class.” Customers report satisfaction that the new version is larger, elegant and brighter than the former facility, which was at the Marine Corps Exchange.

“The old one … was a lot smaller. You felt like you were sort of in a closet,” said Master Sgt. Maria Thiesen, Iwakuni’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge of air traffic control.

At 1,496 square feet, Head to Toe is 626 square feet larger than the former MCX salon, according to Don West, designer and project coordinator.

The salon took about a year to complete; its $242,000 price tag was paid with money generated from purchases at Iwakuni’s MCCS operations, West said.

“The general theme/direction for this environment was sophistication and elegance; a high-end quality product beyond standard military installation look [that was] within budget,” he said.

Head to Toe maintains the same services as the former salon, Thiesen said, but has Italian furniture, floors that look like limestone, slate and wood tiles and windows large enough to admit plenty of natural light but with frosted glass to provide customers more privacy.

“High-end ambience was achieved by careful selection of finish materials, furnishings and accents,” West said. For example, the illuminated display shelves highlight products using “both local and multinational resources to fit [the] established theme.”

Thiesen said, “The main thing I have noticed … being pampered can feel so much nicer in the spacious salon with much more daylight coming through frosted glass.”

Even with improvements, she added, “It seems to me that the prices are still the same … the same staff, too. So I can still use the same stylist I’ve been using for haircuts and coloring; I’m happy she’s still available.”

Services offered, according to air station spokeswoman Master Sgt. Lesli Coakley, include haircuts for men, women and children; coloring, highlights and bleaching. Head to Toe also offers perms, hair relaxation, flat ironing, facial waxing, manicures for adults and children, pedicures, acrylic nails and nail art.

“It’s true that male Marines usually just go to the barber shop, but the new salon does get some business from the male civilian personnel in Iwakuni,” Coakley said. “It’s not only for females.”

The salon also sells shampoos and conditioners by Paul Mitchel, Nexus and Motions and O.P.I. nail polishes.

“One thing I’d like,” Thiesen said, “especially with much more space to display products, is additional items and a greater variety in brands. I just don’t see why they aren’t doing that."

But overall, said, the new salon “is a great improvement.”

Felicia Williams has a pedicure done at the Head to Toe Beauty Salon. The new unisex salon, located at the Crossroads Mall next to the GNC store, is open to all Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents.

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