Sometime last year, Julie Sintic had grown unhappy with her stylist job at a salon in Dublin, Ohio.
“I was waking up just dreading going to work,” she said.
Moving to another salon wasn’t an option, she said. Neither was staying put. She still wanted to be a stylist, which really left her with a single choice: opening her own place.
“I thought, ‘I’m just going to go for it,’” Sintic said.
So she went.
In April, with the support of her family, Sintic took a risk. She quit her job to begin working toward opening her own place.
“I always wanted a small salon,” she said. “I just never knew when in my life it would happen.”
Five strenuous months of renovation, planning and anticipation later, it happened.
In September, along with her friend and fellow stylist Lauren Shelton, Sintic’s dream finally materialized when J Salon opened just off Ohio State’s campus.
Nestled between Plaza Mexican Grill and apartments at 12 Chittenden Ave., the business has seen consistent growth in the five months since opening, Sintic said.
The two-floor space used to be a Chinese restaurant, Sintic said. Her father, a contractor, was contacted by the company who owns the property to see if he was interested in it. As it turns out, by extension, he was.
Sintic signed on for the space, and the redesign commenced in the spring.
Sintic, who went to cosmetology school at Aveda in The Gateway, was aware that very few salons are located near campus.
The 5-month-old parlor is filling that void, Shelton said.
“I think there was definitely a need for it,” she said. “Most people say that when they come in, too.”
Extensive work went into crafting the space to adequately accommodate the needs of a salon, Sintic said.
From altering the staircase’s location to putting gray-tinted tile over top of the original yet unsalvageable exposed brick, the area was completely transformed to fit Sintic’s vision.
And that vision generated a distinctive, boutique-like salon.
Hair dryers dangle from the ceiling above the stylist’s chairs, like a microphone suspended above a boxing ring. In front of the chairs are impossible-to-miss floor-length mirrors.
All the furniture has a sleek, boxy appearance. Pieces of art with subliminal local ties are mounted on the walls.
The color scheme is predicated on light tones, with occasional color pops, to maximize the available space, Sintic said.
“I looked at a lot of things on Pinterest,” she said, chuckling. “It helped a lot with the inspiration.”
The new-aged interior design was purposely done with the likely clientele in mind, Sintic said. She estimated that 90 percent of J Salon’s customers are college students.
Not only does the modern atmosphere cater to the desires of its base, the service menu does too, Sintic said.
J Salon “pretty much does everything” except perms and relaxers, said Shelton, who was a co-worker with Sintic at the old parlor. She left in August to join J Salon, and is currently Sintic’s only employee.
Cuts — for both men and women — and color are among popular services, as are manicures and pedicures. The salon recently began offering lip and eyebrow waxing, too. A haircut and style at J Salon is $35, and a manicure is $30.
“When people look at our service menu, they often say, ‘Oh my gosh, your prices are great.’ And it’s good quality. I mean, I think we’re good stylists,” Sintic said with a laugh.
Although she’s continuing to get more comfortable owning her own salon, Sintic said new lessons come daily, mostly as it pertains to the financial aspects.
“The hair side I got,” she said. “The business side I’m always learning.”
Directly above J Salon’s door, past the suspended, black metal roof, near the top of the building’s aging-brick facade, two words can be spotted.
Written with slightly protruding brick, like architectural braille, is the phrase, “The Feerless.”
The root word, “feer,” is a historic, alternative spelling for fear. It, perhaps, is appropriate that such words would be displayed above Sintic’s salon, an establishment that wouldn’t be open had she not been fearless in pursuing it.
“She was taking a much bigger risk than me,” Shelton said of Sintic leaving her old job behind.
The risk, Sintic said, has paid off.
“It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s been good,” she said. “It’s been worth it.”