January 2014

Steve Sleeper

Snips and Clips Around the Northwest | by Sinnamon Harris


Airstream Trailer Morphs into Salon in Seattle

Idol Style Studio owner Alison Mermel, right, with stylist, Jackie Rocha.
Idol Style Studio owner Alison Mermel, right, with stylist, Jackie Rocha.

Who would have thought an airstream trailer could morph into Idol Style Studio, 412a South Orcas St., Georgetown, Seattle, Washington. Salon owner, Alison Mermel didn't go looking for the unusual salon venue; it found her.

"I had been working out of my warehouse space where I live for three years and needed a change. I wanted to work with other stylists and I knew I couldn't do that where I lived," commented Mermel, "I live in a really fun, artistic part of Seattle, called Georgetown, that has a lot of mixed use spaces and wanted to find a store front, but things were just too expensive."

A local business owner, and friend to Mermel, had an airstream trailer that he was considering using as an office, but instead he offered it Mermel. Refitting the airstream into a salon was very much a "hands-on" project for Mermel as she, her boyfriend, Dad and younger brother labored to complete the transformation.

"In the beginning, things looked fairly bleak as the airstream was pretty rough around the edges," recalls Mermel, "and when we needed the "specialty" stuff completed I pulled out my contacts. Our neighborhood is pretty industrial and I have lots of clients and friends that are carpenters, electricians and plumbers. I made a lot of casserole's, bought a lot of beers and now have several guys on the free-haircut-for-life list."  

Now all Mermel required were building permits and licensing for the salon. Mermel recalled that nothing of that process was easy but after it came together it was well worth it! Idol Style Studio has been operating in the airstream for a little over a year and Mermel was able to add another hair stylist, Jackie Rocha, from California.

The location for the unusual salon is also unique and offered Mermel a chance to connect with another young entrepreneur, Diana Lane, who owns The Blu Grouse Bar next door.


Airstream One Year Ago Inside the Airstream Idol Style Studio owner Alison Mermel, right, with stylist, Jackie Rocha.

"It's so fun working next door to each other, enthused Mermel, "her clients walk by my salon and come check us out and our clients go to her bar next door for amazing food and drinks. It's a win-win and we are two young lady business owners supporting each other!"

Mermel was buoyed by the positive results she received from the Georgetown neighborhood.

"Everyone loves it! I think when I told my clients I was re-opening in an airstream everyone had a different idea in their head. I'm sure a lot of them were surprised about how nice it is!" Mermel smiled. "It is really important to me to have it feel exactly like a salon. Just because you are in a trailer, doesn't mean you don't deserve a salon experience."

You may see Mermel's and Rocha's artistic hair styling on radio station 99.9 KISW's Rock Girls Calendar coming out in January 2014. See photos of the shoot on Idol Style Studio's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/idolairstream

Sinnamon Harris is a freelance journalist who has written for Portland's former Our Town, LifeStyles Northwest and East County News. She also wrote NW Stylist's Oregon Board News articles from Oct 2011-2012. To be featured in an upcoming issue, please send an email to lisa@stylistnewspapers.com