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A pair of scissors wrapped in swirls of hair is inked on Dwight Thomas’ right arm. It’s the tattoo he got on the same day he signed the lease for Thomas Blondi Salon, the 27-year-old’s first hairdo-styling abode. Unhappy with his job at a strip-mall salon, he spotted the then-vacant dance studio in July and snatched it up on a whim. Intentions of buying a home were put on hold, and he poured his money and time (he carries “Small Business for Dummies” around – still) into launching the swanky salon that looks more New York City than Ypsilanti.
“I completely envisioned the salon just as it is now,” he says, breaking from eating an all-veggie sandwich at Beezy’s Cafe, across the street from his salon on West Huron Street. Gone are the walls, which now look wallpapered in aluminum foil, and the salon has a sleek, modern feel (a patron is getting her hair done while working on her MacBook), with techno music keeping a peppy vibe.
Though the salon opened in October, the official grand opening wasn’t until early February, with 120 lock-loving people in attendance. More events, like a product launch, will occur throughout the year, he says. And that’s just the start of Thomas’ endeavors.
His ambition is infinite. He sees Thomas Blondi as a brand – the next Paul Mitchell, even – and with a star-quality name that’d make Sasha Fierce jealous, it might make it that much easier.
“I wanna be big,” says Thomas, a big grin painted across his face. He’s sporting a simple buzz cut (gone are the waist-length dreads and the shaggy Mohawk), and he admits with a break of laughter, “I’m conservative and boring.”
As a master artistic educator for hair care company Matrix, Thomas’ big dreams of being a stylist to the stars – we’re talking to you, Sasha (aka Beyonce) – was tweaked when he realized he wasn’t cut out for that. Even with a familial line of hair stylists (his grandfather and dad were both barbers) he wasn’t particularly inspired; doing hair, he says, was just a fluke. A successful one.
“I love doing it,” says Thomas, who’s been a hairdresser for just over five years and styled hair for “America’s Next Top Model” in Las Vegas. “I go home at night and I think about tomorrow. I’m like, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to do her hair!'” One client in particular, during Thomas’ first year in the biz, sealed the deal.
After having gastric bypass surgery, she returned to Thomas – thinner, but still unsure of trying anything trendier. “She always kept it really simple – long and boring,” he recalls.
Thomas convinced her to continue her mission of change. Hesitant at first, she finally flipped through some hairdo books, showing him her ideas for style and color – and ta-da!
“She cried, but she liked it so much,” he says, smiling. Though he went to beauty school in Ypsilanti for two years, he learned how to master male cuts at – his chipper voice shrinking to a whisper – Great Clips. He made sure it wasn’t near where he lived, because “I didn’t want anyone to run into me,” he says.
Now that he has his own salon, that’s changed, of course. One thing hasn’t, though: Hair. It’s still his number one priority, which is why Thomas Blondi doesn’t offer massages or manicures and pedicures (eyebrow waxing is an option, however).
“It’s not really a place to come and get pampered,” he says. “This is a place where you walk out and you feel like it’s gonna be a Friday night every night. No matter where you’re going, you’re gonna feel like you’re looking hot.”
Each of the six hairdressers at the salon specialize in different styles – dreadlocks, color, punk – and Thomas? He laughs, “I specialize in gay.”