Fiona McEntee, Proprietor & Makeup Artist
My first job was as a receptionist in my mum’s beauty salon. The history of Blowtique is set in the surroundings of my mother owning hair and beauty salons in Ireland for over the last 30+ years. I’ve been exposed to this industry for my whole life.
I moved to Chicago through a scholarship from my law school, University College Dublin. When I arrived in Chicago, I was shocked that I couldn’t find anywhere to have my hair blow dried. My hair is naturally really curly and I like having it done. I couldn’t believe that central Chicago didn’t have a service that is so common back in Ireland.
Women in America are really into getting their nails done, but hair styling didn’t seem to be a part of their beauty culture. When I did want to get my hair done, it was extremely expensive. If you want a senior stylist, it’s more expensive. Or if you want your hair curled or braided, it’s an added price. The few times I went in to get my hair done, to get my highlights done in a top downtown salon, and was sent upstairs in a towel to blowdry my own hair. If you didn’t pay for the extra blow out, you were expected to dry your hair yourself.
The beauty culture in Ireland and in greater Europe is rich with easy blow dry salons. It’s just something that people frequently do. It’s nothing luxurious, it’s not out of the ordinary, it’s not for a special occasion -- it’s just part of a beauty routine. You don’t have to be wealthy. It’s affordable. It’s easy. And the results are great!
The big catalyst was my wedding in 2009. I had over 100 guests from Ireland. We have a huge family and loads of friends, so my wedding turned into a big vacation for everyone. There were so many women who wanted to get their hair done for the wedding, but no one find a quality place to service them. People who did find appointments came back to the hotel and had to redo their own hair. We were in central Chicago and we were shocked that none of my friends or family could find a blowdry for an affordable price.
This is when I decided to change things. I had the experience and I knew we could do it. If anyone could do this, it was us! That tends to be my nature: I need something, it doesn’t exist, I create it.
What I really want to get across, is that we’re not people who saw this as a fad. We have the background. We have 30+ years of experience in the industry. I saw a need that was being filled elsewhere and I did what I could to create an inexpensive and high quality service for women in Chicago.
What separates us from other salons is we have so much experience in this field and all our senior stylists are taught and trained in Ireland. We have expert staff that we hand picked to run and manage the team. We have the European Standard.
We are always looking to expand, because there’s always more opportunity to create something beautiful.