Inside the salon, the contemporary interior blends raw, industrial elements like exposed beams and concrete floors with streamlined blonde cabinetry and touches of Asian design. Shelves are stocked with Aveda products, and the staff is committed to making sure every customer's experience is positive from check-in to check-out. (Appointments include shampoo, hot towel application, scalp and hand massage, cut, blow dry, styling and a lipstick retouch.) But this salon's mission goes beyond serving customers' needs; it's also devoted to serving fledgling members of the trade.
Since relocating to Metairie Road after its Harrison Avenue salon flooded after Katrina, Noonan has made his Aveda salon a training ground for students who've graduated from beauty school and want to turn their education into a fully charged career.
Over the years, Noonan sharpened his own skills by taking advanced training at the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Los Angeles, where he mastered the five key haircuts Sassoon considers the basis for most haircuts. "We took what we learned at Sassoon and tweaked it to be that much better," says Noonan, who handpicks trainees for his salon from students at the Aveda Institute in Metairie, where he teaches monthly. Training starts with a 90-day trial phase and eventually progresses to a 15-week period in which students cut the hair of 15 models they find on their own. The program, overseen by stylist Chris Kijko and his wife, colorist Sunny Kijko, teaches technique and helps stylists develop the skills necessary to build a strong clientele.
Working with Aveda, opening a Metairie Road salon (a longtime dream for Noonan), and teaching a new generation of stylists has proved a winning combination.
"We want to be the best, and we portray that," says Noonan. "I've been doing this for 24 years, and I still have passion."