Flying to New York for Fashion Week never gets old for hairstylist, educator and salon owner Johnna Rightmyer. She has worked with models and country music artists, trained hair stylists around the country and worked with top salons collaborating on hair trends. But this wife and mother loves coming home to Williamson County and working on the clients who frequent her salons in Franklin and downtown Nashville every bit as much as the jet set life and supermodels she also calls clients. Meet talented, multi-tasking salon owner and stylist Johnna Rightmyer, owner of Juel Salon and Spa.
You have worked on music artists as well as models during New York Fashion Week, most recently in September. Which is easier and why?
Both have their own set of unique challenges. With NYFW, you know exactly what the designer wants. Most of the time, the models show up with their hair styled from a previous show, and you have to deconstruct and get as much of the product out of the hair so you can start over. The hair is about the designer and their vision for the line, so this, to me, makes it easier.
With music artists, it is about them and where they are in their career, as well as trying to capture what the video/photo shoot is about. So you are dealing with two layers as opposed to one. You want to make sure you don’t lose who that person is while telling a story. The last video shoot I worked on, I was the lead hair/makeup person, and I had to take the artist through three decades of style in one day for the shoot. I didn’t want to lose the artist, so I felt it was important the she “wear” the decade and not let the decade “wear” her. When it was all said and done, the artist looked like herself within each era.
When you work at NYFW what does your day look like?
The designer sets the call time about three hours before the show so that everyone can go over final looks and make sure everything is set up. The last show I attended, the call time was at 6 p.m., so the team met up for coffee around 4 p.m., hopped on the subway and headed to Lincoln Park. When we arrived at the Hypar Pavilion at Lincoln Center, we had to wait a few minutes for the previous team to clear out. Hair, makeup, nails, media and snacks are all packed in the same room within the tents, so it is interesting to see everyone all crammed in. This is what I love the most, because everyone feeds off of each other’s energy, and most egos are pushed aside. We all know this moment is for that designer and the vision for their brand.
What designers did you work for?
Does the designer usually have a concept for hair for the show you follow?
Yes, the hair is decided weeks before the show, and a lead hairstylist will meet with the designer to go over a couple of test runs. Before the show, the lead hairstylist will go over the look with the selected hair team.
What are trends for haircuts right now?
For women, the lob (aka long bob) is big right now. Men can still expect to see the popular dapper look pulled straight from the 1940s.
If you don’t want to go for a dramatic cut, how can you still freshen your hairstyle?
Tousled waves with slight texture are on point with styling. We are moving away from that smooth curl/wave and opting for more of the “bed head” wave. The bun is a go-to this season, but with more texture. A top knot is perfect for those guys out there that decide to keep their mane long.
You have traveled all over the country styling hair. Do Nashville and WillCo have a distinct vibe for style? I mean, we are in the South, where folks still love big hair!
I really have enjoyed taking in all of the different styles through my travels. I can say we do have our own distinct vibe, and the locals know what I am talking about. Nashville and WillCo love big hair, but there is a difference in our volume versus Texas volume. I think we do a fine job of taking what is on-trend and adding that Southern touch to make it our own.
What can women over 50 do to avoid old lady hair?
Keep your hair trimmed and use good products. Masks can nourish the hair, rejuvenate the scalp and even fortify your hair, depending on your specific needs. Most products that are worth spending money on are concentrated, you only use a little, but they work so much better than drugstore brands.
For women with thin hair, what are some cut or product options that can help?
I always recommend the perimeter of the hair be cut with a blunt edge, so it gives the appearance of strength and fullness. It is okay to have texture in the interior of the shape to accomplish volume.
You own two salons, travel all over the country and have two small children. How do you stay sane?
The love and support of others keeps me sane. First, my husband: We made the decision for our family five years ago to open a business and reverse the roles in our household. He keeps the family in order by providing consistency in the home while I am away. Our two daughters, Ashlyn (6) and Andersen (5), are everything to us, so we wanted one of us to be with them and have tried to minimize outside help. Second, my mentor/business partner and dear friend Ashlyn Hines-Meneguzzi believed in my vision and has coached me every step of the way through the realities of owning a business and what it takes to push through. She encouraged me to be a part of the Catalyst program at the EO Center in Nashville, and it has been such a crucial element to my sanity. Third, the Juel team: At least one person daily will put a smile on my face by saying “l love my job” or “I am grateful,” and sometimes it’s the nonverbal communication while watching someone truly love what they are doing.
What made you take the leap from talent behind the chair to business owner?
I wanted to create a space that had enough structure to grow an individual without hindering them as an artist. I also felt the need for diverse education and not just classes provided through a couple of lines the salon carries. But the most important thing was to offer a space for my clientele to come in and have an experience after working so hard all day, or midday while the kiddos are in school. We are in a service industry when it is all said and done, and I want to make sure the clients who come into Juel have been serviced beyond their expectations.
Lastly, what is the smartest business advice you were ever given?
Ashlyn Hines-Meneguzzi told me to “hire people who can do the role better than you.” This advice has allowed me to sleep at night knowing it will get done. Plus, when you let go and do what you are good at, others can do what they are good at.
Thank you, Johnna! Find out more about Juel Salon and Spa, here.
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