Jeovanna is the owner and sole stylist at Lily + Lion, Newport’s only boutique speakeasy salon, shhh … don’t tell anyone.
She is a San Diego native, and a Bumble & Bumble trained hairstylist (since 2002) that specializes in color, cut, and treatments for the hair and scalp. For the record, her scalp treatments are out of this world; your cranium will thank you. Jeovanna tells me, “I moved from my hometown of Ocean Beach to the isle of Rhode, for love!” Since her doors opened, Lily + Lion has remained Newport’s best kept secret. The space has transformed an old row home into first-floor boutique salon, and after building up her clientele, it has become the chicest (and most camouflaged) hair salon in Newport.
Q: Why ‘Lily + Lion’?
A: “I had worked on a list [of salon names] for years, even before I knew I would own a salon. Does everybody do this? I dated a guy that carried with him a list that he would name his kids one day, very sweet. I, on the other hand, carried a list of business names, ideas, etc. Lily + Lion Salon represents both the feminine and the masculine; it represents my clients because I want this place to be for everybody, it’s androgynous. Lily and the Lion is also the original Grims Brothers tale of Beauty and the Beast, and I love that fairytale, it is a lot darker than the Disney version. ‘Lily’ is a family name too, and although I really don’t like salons that have a persons name on it I ironically ended up with one! My first name is Lily, as is my moms, my grandmothers, and many cousins and nieces. I come from a long lineage of strong women, so ultimately it is in honor to them as well.”
Q: Where do you draw inspiration from? Who are your “hair heroes”?
A: “Big name inspirations would be: Sal Sal out of California, of course, we would be nowhere without Vidal Sassoon, he is like the creator, the ballet of hair. Michael Gordon, the original man behind Bumble & bumble. But the everyday people that I have worked through the years do most the inspiring. I am forever grateful to Sharon Daddi, who gave me my first big break and adopted me into a family of insanely talented stylists. Guy Hamel, my friend who has taught me so much about this business, lessons both in and out of the salon like: never quitting, being humble, and most of all, being honest. Ben Crase out of Hyde Ewards is KILLING IT right now, check his work out (@gummybeats1). Ada, Susie, Anna, Heather, oh man … the list of hair heroes can go on and on, these are hairstylists that are all doing there own unique inspirational work.”
Q: How do you deal with ‘messing up’?
A: “Well, when you treat people like guests in your home, not just clients, you build a relationship. You build trust and you get to know their style, their hair, basically: their lifestyle. How you handle a mistake is a vital key to being a good hairstylist, because they are going to happen, nobody is perfect! You want to set yourself up for success, if someone comes in with over processed hair, don’t do their hair, suggest some healthier options. I educate my clients and suggest what is best for them, the integrity of the hair, what’s easy to style, or works with their texture. I don’t do much advertising. My guests (clients) are my advertisement. I want them to love their hair. People tend to talk more about things they don’t like versus what they do, so I really want to handle those things correctly. I am the first to admit a mistake and I handle it. For example (and this actually happen): I formulated a 6 instead of a 9, the outcome was way too dark. You can’t avoid it or try to talk your way out of it, you have to own it right away and correct it. I called my next client, rescheduled, compensated both for the loss of time and did the color correction. Explaining to people what went wrong, what steps you are doing gives them a better understanding and I found they really appreciate being part of the process and not being left in the dark, which only makes people more nervous. My goal is for everyone to feel relaxed in my chair. I want to do it the right way, and that sometimes takes a long time but I have snacks, coffee, wine, beer, and we will get through this!”
Her mini fridge is stocked, undoubtedly, don’t be afraid to ask Jeovanna for a treat (or two).
Q: We have talked a lot about the new white hair craze (i.e., Draco Malfoy), what do you say to clients who come in with dark hair that is looking to achieve something completely contrast?
A: I just did this, and I NAILED it! Pictures on our Instagram and Facebook to follow! But what I explain is; your hair will be orange then yellow before it is white, and you can over process really quickly. I am using multiple formulas and I am not working with a blank canvas, you are a living and breathing person, hair has many variables besides the color you walk in with. I have to take into consideration texture, previous color, previous damage, I need to learn all of those things in the first few minutes before I formulate, and I need to communicate to my client.”
Jeovanna is heavily educated on the science of hair and its structure, she keeps a record of all of her clients’ formulas (think of a recipe card) and makes sure to preform a thorough consultation before any cut or color. Each approach is different depending on the goal. If you are an incoming or potential client of Jeovanna’s she always asks that you send a current photo of your hair and a photo of your goal so that she can assess your needs appropriately even before meeting you, as well as book you an appropriate amount of time to achieve your desired look. Corresponding with Jeovanna is the one instance where a ‘selfie’ is highly appropriate.
As a client of Jeovanna’s, I tell her that her explanation of my hair is much more scientific than anyone else that I have gone to as a colorist or a stylist. Her response?
“I’m a geek. I’m a hair geek. A full on hair geek.”
Q: Do you spend a lot of time studying techniques and trends?
A: “Oh yeah, I am constantly reading. Whether it is a Behind the Chair thread or keeping up with artists and watching them on Periscope (although hairscope should be a thing!) or attending a class. When I go home to California, I always try to attend a class. My last one was with Larissa Love, platform color artist that is a total goddess. I love to be around people that are doing new things; I feel like you have to, or you will be doing the same haircut you were doing twenty years ago, like Jennifer Aniston’s hair when she was on FRIENDS. Her hair doesn’t look like that anymore!” Why are there still Rachael’s walking around?”
Q: Is it typical for someone to be trained in cut and color or are most stylists departmentalized?
A: “It is very common to be departmentalized, it is common where I grew up and was educated. In big cities, it becomes more departmentalized; you specialize in color, or cut only. That is the how Drybar came about, stylists specializing in just blow outs. Some people just do wedding hair in California, it isn’t a seasonal place so you could have a wedding anytime all year long and you could do that full time. You do not need your cosmetology license to do that, so I always suggest to those with the bobby pin wielding talent to just start doing their art, take pictures of it, build a portfolio, build your business! People will ask me if I can do their hair for their wedding and I usually say ‘no’, and hand it off to another stylist. For me, it is like asking a long time water color painter to stop what they are doing, drop the brush, and make a sculpture, it’s just not my chosen medium. A long time ago, Sharron Daddi said to me, “you don’t have to do everything, just pick one thing and do that until you master it”. I have a plethora of insanely talented friends to draw from who SLAY at sculpting hair, they are fast and create perfection so we do a lot of private wedding parties here. I really love planning events, so I am so absolutely over the moon excited for our newest venture at Lily + Lion. It is the Pop-Up-Wedding-Shop where brides get to rent the salon, in it its entirety, and have personalized and customized day where whole bridal party is here, bridesmaids, family, and photographers are welcomed with no interruptions or rushing you out the door. Dresses are steamed in a private changing room and makeup artists and hair stylists have plenty of space to work their magic. I have a private driver who picks the party up in a classic 1960’s Mercedes, the day is always catered, and custom beverages are served with floating flower petals. I worked with Metta Events this summer and it was a great success.”
Q: Do you think you’re more talented at cutting or coloring?
A: “Depends, I don’t know, that would depend on the hair.” I’m about equal, but I always feel there is more to learn. I let a persons hair tell me where it is going to shine. Sometimes it is the cut that is going to make it pop, other times it is long and loose but needs just the right touch of gilded color for it to stand out. And don’t forget about the men, I have a lot of male clients, and they love to have a personalized style as well. I would claim those guys have not been this into grooming (their hair, mustaches, and beards) since the 1930’s. Manscaping is a real thing!”
Q: Did you always dream of being a hair dresser?
A: “I didn’t realize that I was going to do hair, I guess people grow up and think ‘I want to be a hairstylist’ and I never thought that I thought I was going to join the circus! I used to play with makeup more than anything else. I grew up with my Mom having a daycare in the house and I remember lining up all of our ugly wooden Holly Hobby dining room chairs in front of our ugly 1980’s closet mirrors and I would style the kids hair with gel and I would break out my face paint and every kid would look crazy when they left. They loved it! I never cut their hair because I wasn’t allowed to, but I would cut my own hair. One time I cut my own hair thinking I would look really cute like Joan Jett and I ended up looking like the Karate Kid.” I think the moment it clicked for me was much later, in my teens when I went to a salon called “Hay Sailor” in my home town. I felt so good there, I love the owner she is awesome, and I love my stylist and looked forward to seeing him on the regular. The relationship and the experience is what did it for me, it was a place I walked into and felt I could say anything, we listened to great music, it was fun, and I walked out feeling like my best self. I wanted to do that for other people. I doubted myself, but like the saying goes, “’If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced’”.
Q: Are there any products that you really stand by?
A: “Davines is great, they are doing really good things in the industry with their mission of beauty an sustainability, they offset all of the energy to create their products. It’s a naturally derived line out of Parma Italy. American organic law is different then EU law, so their products come in reusable food grade plastic, and if you keep the container after your conditioner runs out you can carry your chia pudding in it on the way to work! What other company things like that!? I also love Amika, they are a tiny mostly woman owned & run company out of Brooklyn. Amika is more of a high style line; think hot flat irons, teasing, curling, it is a high protective line with sea buckthorn berry that not only smells amazing but is the best at protecting from environmental damage like wind, sun or thermal like hot tools.
So, ladies and gentlemen – your product is dependent on how aggressive you are going to style your locks but do not fret if you haven’t been following the rules, nothing is irreparable at Lily + Lion.
Q: What is a hair faux paux or taboo? The Do’s and the Don’ts.
A: “I would say, fighting your natural hair texture is probably one of the biggest ones. If your hair is really truly curly sometimes it is just best to embrace that and rock the fro! Or, if your hair is really fine and you think you need to grow it super long, that doesn’t work. If you have fine hair you need a really good haircut, layers sound scary but the right type builds weight. Maybe a really good thick fringe shag to thicken things up. Also, there are no rules. Don’t think you have to cut your hair into a bob the moment you turn a certain age, style has evolved. There are silver-haired mermaids running around now, and pixie short silver platinum on kids. Age has nothing to do with it. It is all how you carry yourself, your hair should reflect your true personal style. Do not do something that doesn’t suit you just because it is trending. And by all means, if you are thinking about getting a really different cut or color for a long time, just do it! Come on! It’s not a tattoo! It’s the only body part you can actually chop and IT WILL GROW BACK so do it!
I am not really sure if there is anything left to say, except: here is the address.
Jeovanna at Lily + Lion Boutique Salon
10 Mann Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island 02840
Jeovanna did not come all the way from sunny California to be boring. She is current, takes risks, has unbelievable style, personality, and energy. I would highly recommend feasting eyes on Newport’s (one and only) REAL speakeasy, no password required. By the way, her dog is adorable.