Ryan Chartrand

Downtown San Luis Obispo is about to receive a makeover with the opening of Hepkat Beauty Parlor, a ’50s style salon, which will soon open at 781 Higuera St. between Decades and The Novel Experience.

The salon is an expansion of Hepkat Clothing on Marsh Street. The parlor features six styling chairs, all with red retro metal flake upholstery. Two old-fashioned drying chairs are upholstered in leopard print, and the floor is tiled in a black and white checkerboard pattern. Even the waiting area includes two diner-style booths in metal flake upholstery.

“It’s just going to be so cool when you walk in,” said Terry Brown, who co-owns Hepkat Clothing and now Hepkat Beauty Parlor with her daughter, Brittany. “You’ll walk in and just say, ‘This is where I want to get my hair done,’” she said.

In addition to providing everyday haircuts and dye jobs in an old-fashioned setting, Hepkat Beauty Parlor will offer makeup styles and ’50s inspired hair designs such as the pompadour, bob and a variety of updos.

Six stylists will be working at the salon, whom Brown hired for both their looks and for their abilities to do old-fashioned hairstyles. Hepkat Beauty Parlor stylists need to be able “to give the pinup kind of look,” Brown said.

Although Hepkat Beauty Parlor has a ’50s, rockabilly theme, the salon is not limited to that unique type of hairstyle.

“We want any range of styles to be comfortable,” said 20-year-old Hepkat employee Nicole Gambel.

Unlike many other hair salons in San Luis Obispo, Hepkat Beauty Parlor will carry bright and unnatural hair dyes for those who want them.

“It’s hard to be able to go into any salon here because they’re all blondes and they don’t understand what you want them to do,” Gambel described. “If you ask for red hair, they’ll give you natural red.” Gambel has bright, fire-engine red streaks in her dark hair. Previously, she had to bring her own dyes into salons that weren’t stocked with bright colors.

An opening date has not been set for the salon, although Brown hopes it will open sometime in May.

A grand opening event is in the works for May 31, although the date is tentative. Indefinite plans for the salon’s grand opening include vendors giving passersby nail decals, stylists offering quick ’50s updos and a rockabilly band. “It should be quite lively,” Brown said.

The mother/daughter team has owned Hepkat Clothing for almost five years, during which they have always wanted to expand and move the store to a bigger space, Brown said. It was Brittany’s idea to add a beauty parlor, “in 1950s style, of course,” Brown emphasized. As if there was any other way to decorate the Browns’ salon.

The store sells 1950s-inspired clothing and accessories for men and women, including everything from cardigans to belt buckles. It carries products “that look vintage but aren’t vintage,” Gambel said.

The Browns originally planned to sell clothing at Hepkat Beauty Parlor as well, but were stopped by Decades, the vintage clothing store next door to the salon’s location. The store didn’t want to be in direct competition with the salon, Gambel said. “Decades is grouchy,” Brown complained, scrunching her face.

Aside from a variety of hair products, Hepkat Beauty Parlor will sell an array of accessories including purses, jewelry and sunglasses. The store will also sell clothing with only the Hepkat logo, including T-shirts and jackets.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *