Stacie Harrold, owner of Whirlwind Blow Dry Lounge, said you can see a difference in women when they leave her place.
“We make women feel beautiful; and you can practically see them glow,” she said.
Part of that is due to the way they look after a Whirlwind experience, and part of it is because a visit means an hour of relaxation all to themselves.
“Coming in for a blow out or to get your makeup done is kind of like getting a massage or manicure. It’s totally ‘you’ time.”
Harrold opened Whirlwind four years ago, and has found her niche. “I love this business, and will be here until I retire. And I’m in no rush for that.”
A Whirlwind ‘experience’ can include a wash, conditioning treatment, blow out and style with curling or flat irons and full face make up.
“Up-dos are always a big hit for a night out or special event,” she said.
Harrold remembers the days when a visit to the salon meant sitting under a dryer, talking with others, reading, or just relaxing, and she specifically designed Whirlwind to have that old-school look and feel. But when it comes to delivering service, they are cutting edge.
“We are the exclusive provider in this area for Kevin Murphy hair care products, and we regularly bring in outside trainers to help develop our staff.”
Although there is no licensing requirement for it, all employees are licensed cosmetologists. “That way, everyone is knowledgeable about the science of what we do, and we are able to maintain high sanitation standards,” said Harrold.
A lot of local customers are women on the go: always traveling, working, or just busy with life. Whirlwind sees a lot of tourists; people who want to get in and out so they can spend time vacationing, she said. And weddings have taken off.
“We did four weddings the first year we were open,” said Harrold. “This year, we’ve already done 38.”
Whirlwind recently received a 2019 award from the reputable Wedding Wire for being one of the top 6 wedding salons in the Napa Valley.
“We all feel honored by that,” Harrold said.
Whirlwind also sees a lot of moms, some of whom bring their newborns into the shop. “We are also honored to have women who are convalescing visit us. We get to help them get back to feeling beautiful.”
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Harrold grew up in Long Beach and lived there until she was 25. She got a degree in Fashion Design right out of high school, and worked for several retailers, including Nordstrom.
She enjoyed retail but was also fascinated with advertising, and after six years she moved to San Francisco, switched her career focus and received her BA from San Francisco State University in broadcast communications.
She worked in San Francisco in advertising in the late 1990s then starting her own advertising agency in her garage in Albany with a friend and co worker Harrold had known for years. The business partner lived in Napa. Harrold moved here and fell in love with the place.
“I had an office next to the post office for 15 years,” she said. Business was good, until it wasn’t.
“Technology changed everything,” said Harrold. In no time at all, small, independent shops like Harrold’s were losing business to much larger firms, who could afford the latest technology.
That changed the broadcast communications landscape. Harrold and her partner knew it was time for a change. For Harrold, the next move was easy.
“I’ve always been into esthetics,” she said.
A salon called the Dry Bar opened in San Francisco and was popping up in major cities across the country, and Harrold was intrigued.
“I knew there was a place for that in Napa.” And while there are lots of salons here that do cuts and color, nobody was offering the services Harrold wanted to bring to Napa.
Whirlwind can be whimsical.
“We’ve hosted birthday parties for young girls, who love dressing up.” “Happy Hour” is 3 to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, when guests receive a discount, and a glass of Chandon.
And some of those wedding parties can be a lot of fun. Many locals enjoy the three, six or 10 discount passes or buying gift cards for birthdays and holidays.
Harrold said that Whirlwind is successful because of the staff, and said a condition for this article was that they be recognized for their contribution.
“They are all driven to be exceptionally creative and do a fantastic job. I am so thankful to be able to work with them and have them be a big part of Whirlwind.”
Two young stylists on her staff recently were diagnosed with thyroid cancer and thankfully now both are cancer free. Harrold and her team are planning a fundraiser, donating part of the proceeds to cancer related local charities. “It will be Friday, Oct. 18. We’ll have appetizers and bubbles while styling hair. It will be a fun way to help.”