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Meet Judy Irwin of The Den Salon in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Judy Irwin.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started working for The Den Salon roughly 3 years into their opening as a two day a week part time receptionist. I was in my last semester at CSULB as a marketing major and no plan. Being the broke college student I was, I needed a haircut so I replied to an ad about being a hair model for the ISSE convention that happens every year in Long Beach. The model call was at The Den Salon. This is where I met the owner, Andy Kripp. We ended up just talking to one another, unbeknownst to me that he was the owner, and from that point he opened a position for me to work Thursdays and Sundays as a receptionist.

It did not take long for me to absolutely fall in love with the people I worked with, as well as, worked for.

Andy opened The Den Salon with his wife in 2008. Their goal was to name the salon after their first-born child. They found out Allison, Andy’s wife, was incapable of getting pregnant, so they named the salon after Andy’s father, Dennis. About 3 months into their opening day, Allison found out she was pregnant! This was very exciting for them, but it also meant they would be taking care of two babies. One human, and one brand new business.

Opening the salon in 2008 was a rough year for everyone due to the economic crash, but they came out of the depression still open and ready to keep growing.

Fast forward to February 2011, when I started here. Working for a small business was nothing like I had experienced before. I was 22 years old and had come from one corporate job to the next working my way through college as a server. Working with a corporate company can feel very robotic. You are not an individual, but part of a machine. Working for a small business, I literally got to use my fresh college education to first hand experiment with marketing, social media, online presence, and I even completely rebuilt our website from a single page URL. I heard directly from our clients the impact of my marketing and it was incredible. Working side by side with a family that not only encouraged me to explore different options, they also were beyond grateful for my work.

Over a, so far, 7-year career I’ve had here, I’ve grown for a part time receptionist, to a full-time receptionist, to a manager, to a general manager, to part owner.

We’ve been open for almost 10 years now in downtown Long Beach and we’ve grown substantially over that time. We are not a destination location for visitors, as well as clients that make it a point to get their hair done here when they’re in town. It is an honor and privilege to have been taken on this journey with the Kripp family as we continue to build our business and grow within and alongside our community.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has definitely been a bumpy but extremely fun road.

2008-2010 was really hard just trying to stay afloat while most small businesses were sinking. But just like all bump paths there will be smooth parts and once we got through the toughest times of the depression, and I started here, I learned something almost every day. I learned how to hone in on my customer service, how to take initiative, handle uncomfortable situations, like hiring and firing and all client and staff confrontations, and how to be a leader. None of those learning experiences were “smooth” but I we wouldn’t where we are without learning from every decision we make for the better and the worse.

Please tell us about The Den Salon.
At The Den Salon, we aim for comfort. We offer the best cut and color services while making our clients feel as comfortable as possible in the salon environment. We look at each other as family and treat each other as such. We maintain the similar mindset that as long as clients are walking through our Den doors, then everyone is happy. We encourage clients to chair hop to have a different experience each time, while continuing to receive precise services no matter who does their hair. The best compliment we receive from our clients, aside from “the best hair cut they’ve ever gotten”, is “this place is just like Cheer’s!”

My job is to basically host the party. I make sure everyone (hair artists and clients) is having a good time and have what they need to do the best they can.

We have become very familiar with the vibrant hair colors and edgy cuts, but we definitely specialize in everything from edgy to conservative to bright and bold to traditional, while providing superior customer service. We do call each stylist “Artists” at The Den, because we truly believe that is what hair is art that you get to wear every day and express yourself doing so.

We aim ensure all of our clients are ecstatic with our work and have a great time while they’re here. If someone walks in having a tough day, we make it a goal to turn their day around before they leave.

Nothing says soothing like a nice cold beverage, a head rub, and amazing hair.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was about 6-10 years old, I used to go with my mom to her hair appointments. I looked forward to going with her every time, even though each appointment was roughly 3 hours, which is like 3 years in kid time. I would sweep and help anyway the stylist would let me and when I was old enough I even started answering his phone while he had my mom in his chair. I never thought I would end up right back where I started, but apparently hair salons have shaped since the beginning!

Pricing:

  • Haircuts start $45-$60 and include a wash and style.
  • Wash and styles start at $35 and they’re a great way to get your hair styled for an event or just to have great hair for a couple of days!
  • We offer a “clean up” service for $10 for clients that aren’t quite ready for a full haircut, but it’s a little longer than what’s comfortable

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Allison Kripp
Long Beach Business Journal
Judy Irwin

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Jill Mesch

    June 20, 2017 at 21:46

    I’m one of those people that visit Long Beach to have my hair cut and colored. I LOVE this place!!!! Andy Kripp has given me The Best Haircut ever! And the artists’ work with color is amazing!!! Did I mention the customer service? Fantastic!!! I so look forward to being a part of The Den “family” for years to come!

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