'Salon offers a breath of fresh air'
REGISTER BUSINESS WRITER
March 23, 2006
Randy Tran, 31, moved from Chicago to West Des Moines and opened the high-tech, modern salonFusion in February in the West Glen Town Center.
The name comes from the combination of services it offers: hair care, a tanning salon and an oxygen bar. Tran has eight employees, and he said all are extensively trained on the tanning equipment and products.
The tanning salon has six tanning-bed options. A one-time tanning visit ranges from $9 to $28, depending on the tanning bed.
The hair salon is furnished with state-of-the-art equipment imported from Italy. A shampoo and cut starts at $22 for men, and $30 for women.
Q. How did you get the idea for a business like this?
A. I previously designed and built salons of this type in Chicago, but I just never actually put the services together. When I came to Des Moines, there was no other salon like this.
Q. Talk about your tanning service.
A. Our tanning features state-of-the-art equipment, with iPod, USB and Mp3 hookups. You can bring any kind of sound device in there. Most of our beds have air-conditioning. We also feature a sunless spray tan that uses a sunless solution versus (UV) ultraviolet rays. It's completely safe, and the results last four to six days. It's a walk-in booth. It takes about 90 seconds for the application and about four hours before you see the results.
Q. What exactly is an oxygen bar?
A. It's completely new to the market. We use recreational grade, not medical grade, oxygen. We use head sets as opposed to nose hoses. We use a different type of technology where it doesn't store any type of filter, it actually just filters out nitrogen. The oxygen goes through an aroma, you get to choose your own. We have about 40 different aromas.
Q. What are the most popular aromas?
A. The most popular right now are the bliss aromas — which are orange, spearmint, peppermint, raspberry and lime. My personal favorite is the orange. You can actually mix them and make different combinations, like vanilla and orange. It's completely safe, the aroma is food-grade.
Q. Does it make you high?
A. Some people call it a high. I don't describe it as a high because I don't want them to get the wrong idea. What it's doing is like you're drinking tap water, and then you drink bottled water. You notice a difference right away. It's the same thing with the oxygen. You breathe a little easier because it's filtering out all the impurities in the air and you're getting the aroma, so you enjoy it. Some people feel like they're getting high just because they're breathing a little more than they normally would.
Q. What are some of the reasons people like to go to an oxygen bar?
A. It's relaxing. A lot of times when people are doing oxygen, they're just getting off work, so it gives them a chance to just sit down and relax. We offer a computer system so you can actually check your e-mail while you're doing the oxygen. The oxygen will actually calm your nerves. It has the ability to speed up your metabolism, and your melanin production. If you know about tanning, melanin is what actually tans your skin.
It has also been known to suppress hunger, too. It can relieve headaches, it increases circulation, it's good for migraines, good for skin, good for hair. It's good for all kinds of disorders, too, if you use it over a period of time.
Q. What about hangovers?
A. Yes. I always save that for the end. That seems to be the thing that everybody waits to hear. It's not a cure, but it does relieve hangovers. I've actually put that to the test. I literally got wasted — on purpose — and then the next day I did oxygen for about a half hour. It did help.
Q. What ages of people commonly do this?
A. Most of them right now are high school students, because they're just curious. The people who have been returning are the people in their mid-to-late 20s, early 30s, because they notice the effects more. If you're younger, you're already energetic.
One of the girls who works here has sinus issues. Every morning she sits down and does the oxygen for half an hour. She says the oxygen relieves her sinuses. We're finding every day some of the benefits of doing oxygen.
Q. How long do people do this at one time?
A. We let them go 10, 20 or 30 minutes. You can actually do it for an hour or two-hours at a time, but we don't want to occupy the seats that long. We want to be able to get people in and out.
Q. How many people can you handle at one time?
A. We have the capacity to serve 20 people.
Q. What does it cost?
A. Ten minutes is $5; 20 minutes will run $10; and 30 minutes is $12. Generally, for 10 minutes we give it complimentary to our salon clients. We do offer the first time for free. A lot of people are just curious about it. Most of the time, people do come back.
Q. How's business been?
A. We're thinking of expanding already. There is 1,400 square feet available next door. At the rate we've been growing already, we will be at full capacity within a year. We have 3,500 square feet now. We've signed up almost 400 people for tanning and almost that many for hair. We don't want people to wait. If somebody's waiting, we want them to be able to do something else. That's why I added the oxygen bar.