The story of Blondies The Beauty Shop is the story of a relationship and a dream. Like most good relationships, Blondies has grown organically and gradually from with the passion of it’s two owners Gina Martinez and Amy Lerch both of whom you will likely see on the floor, doing hair, nearly every day we are open. What a lot of our customers don’t know is that this phenomenal friendship and collaboration began years ago when Gina hired Amy to be her assistant at another Cherry Creek North Salon. “I just assumed she’d want to work for me. I said ‘You can start tomorrow’! I think she was a little taken aback and that shop had really wild people, very eccentric, I felt like I had to watch over her a bit!” After awhile Gina decided it was time to move on. “I gave Amy a Rolodex. She looked at me funny and I said, ‘You’re going to start your own business’. We hired another assistant and Amy just hit the ground running.” The duo kept adding assistants and soon had a shop within a shop. They moved again and began to realize they were always revamping the shops they landed in so that they could do hair the way they wanted to, but it also was the chance to further refine their vision. They knew training and education of staff would be paramount, as would being a hands-on presence. In 2003 the call came about a salon space up for lease on 6th avenue and the first incarnation of Blondies the Beauty Shop was born. “We started with 5 or 6 people. Our highest priority was quality we wanted people to have great experience. Most of all we wanted our clients to feel like they had a home. They had moved with us all over the place! We wanted to make education a priority. I know the beauty business was coming into it’s own and people needed a lot of education to get great. I still take all the classes. I fly all over the country to learn. You’re always learning.” says Gina.
In Gina’s mind her biggest influence as a mentor was the legendary Rita B., whose namesake salon Gina worked in multiple times over the course of 15 years. “She understood luxury, refined hair, refined clothing, refined products.” says Gina. More importantly, the lasting influence played out everyday at Blondies is the way Rita B. treated other women, both her clients and her “team” says Gina. “She took me under her wing and sent me to things like personal growth classes. When I got pregnant I was an unwed mother and she let me live with her. She said ‘you’re gonna be fine’ and I learned so much about how to parent from her.” Anyone who knows Gina and Amy would say Rita B.’s legacy of how to be a great hairstylist, a great businesswoman, but most of all a great supporter and encourager of ALL women is most certainly now being passed on to future generations through the culture they have created at Blondies. Gina also worked with the nationally recognized stylist (and star of “Shear Genius”) Charlie Price. “ I watched him: his metamorphosis, and saw how he developed his own craft.” During that time period she also began to really notice the disparities between the sexes in any given profession. “It was so much easier for men to move forward in any business. Women tend to be tied to their family unit which makes it different. Harder. They can’t always go off on that editorial shoot or take an opportunity. It is really noticeable that men are often given more chance for advancement often chosen OVER women by fellow women! It really got to me and I wanted to change that.” Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda, and arguably the natural cosmetics movement, is another notable mentor of Gina’s. “He really influenced me in being conscious of using natural sources and microfunding supporting local communities all the stuff everyone is doing now he was also so talented. He could take the girl next door and make her look like a movie star but still keeping her looking like herself and that made such an impression on me but he really made me think about taking care of planet and taking care of our bodies. ”Orlando Pita and Oribe were also big influences, “Oribe really brought luxury to the forefront and he is such a magnificent teacher.” Bringing in lines like Oribe and Kerastase were a huge coup for Blondies, “That took us to another level because they bring us a lot of amazing education. And just as importantly, their products allow us to do more intricate and elaborate processes without damaging the hair, so we can perform at a much higher level. Most of our clients don’t even realize the extra steps or special tricks we use they just walk out knowing their hair looks awesome!” To watch Gina in action is to watch a maestro a maestro of making her clients look and feel like the most beautiful women in the world, a maestro of keeping this beehive of feminine ingenuity, collaboration and teamwork humming, a maestro in the way she realized, decades ago, how important it was to strive to be egoless in an ego-filled industry: I said long ago to Amy, 'there are people who want to move forward, who have ambition there's gotta be a way we can run a very successful and lucrative business while we help these ladies to develop and grow themselves at the same time we do not know what that looks like right now, but if we keep that intention it will work itself out. I think you have to keep the ego at bay the ego will get you in trouble. Basically it’s about following spirit. I can not be in the driver’s seat. I let go and let spirit show me and speak to me about being a teacher. Then I try to follow that. I used to think I was in charge of my life, but I’m simply a conduit. I just want to be a servant to helping people. I want the best for people I want them to spread their wings.”