Kool Kat of the Week: Salon Red’s Jessica Soler and the Art Institute of Atlanta Get Avant-garde and Decked Out in Decatur This Holiday Season

by Alexis Owens & High Pulp Heart
Art-Loving Atlanta MavensKKJSoler4
Contributing Writers

This year ATLRetro is giving you a heads up on some amazing holiday eye candy provided by our Kool Kat of the Week, Jessica Soler!  Jessica, owner of Salon Red,  and Dr. Courtney Hammonds , Visual Merchandising instructor at the Art Institute of Atlanta – Decatur, put their heads together and envisioned a co-op project that can be enjoyed the entire holiday season in downtown Decatur. The indie-inspired town is already decked to the halls, but now with even more edge and retro flare thanks to these two amazing artists!

Local businesswoman, hair stylist, artist and Jill-of-all-trades, Jessica Soler, is the creative mastermind behind the insanely inspiring wigs and dresses featured in this year’s holiday window display at the Art Institute of Atlanta’s downtown Decatur branch. In addition to being the owner of Salon Red, a local chain of retro-esque, upscale hair salons with locations in Decatur, Candler Park and Brookhaven, Jessica is also an artist, a nature lover, a dancer, a mother of four and heavily involved in the local community.

It’s her love of arts and community that led to her involvement with the Art Institute. When she started making dresses out of unconventional materials like foam rollers and hair color boxes, she thought she was simply creating something interesting for a salon photo shoot. But her ties within Atlanta transformed that creative urge into something that the larger community now has the opportunity to enjoy.

KKJSoler3Jessica is dripping of modern-meets-retro in every facet. ATLRetro was thrilled to get the chance to see her in action. Along with Art Institute students, she created a display that is reminiscent of the early Macy’s Christmas window displays that awed so many of us as we grew up. While witnessing the magic in action, we took the opportunity to not only snap some fun photos but also ask this nifty lady a few questions.

ATLRetro: How long have you been doing hair?

Jessica Soler: In total 18 years, but I have owned my own salon for 16 of those years.

That is pretty early on in your career to own your own salon. Why own your own salon?

Do you want the lie or the truth?

Both if you don’t mind?

Well the lie is I thought it would be fun, but that is what any young entrepreneur believes.  In all honesty, though, the truth is I couldn’t work anywhere else. I have an immensely strong work ethic, and I always want to upgrade systems from the front end of business to the back end. Creative problem solving is what I am best at and what I prefer to work around, and that isn’t just found in any business. But I knew I could incorporate it into mine. Truly though, once diving into having my own business, I learned there is no other way.KKJSoler5

The project with Art Institute’s holiday windows is dripping with community relations and art.  Would you say that that encompasses you as an individual, your business and various locations?

I thrive off of any and all creative avenues. Every single member of my staff is creative in so many different ways and that is one of the many reasons why we continue to thrive as a business, a family and a community. Art is our core, and community is everything wrapped around it. Working with the various Atlanta communities is something we pride ourselves on. Not to mention, it is just such fun to involve community and family in all that you do. Community and art fuel the salons and are a huge part of why I own my own business. It brings out the best in all aspects. We all love to be inspired and want to inspire others. Art and community provide that in ample supply.

You also do a lot of education with your staff, correct?

Education has always been an initiative of mine from the get-go, be it with staff or community.

So tell us about these window displays you created and put together with the Art Institute students? What was your inspiration?

Christmas, Pinterest, The Grinch and Laurent Philippon of Bumble and bumble and his book HAIR: FASHION AND FANTASY, which not so oddly is an inspiration for me and the fabulous Art Institute instructor Dr. Courtney Hammonds, who was gracious enough to host this co-op.

KKJSoler6Laurent is rather avant-garde as is these beautiful window pieces you have created. Has that always been a part of your vision?

Being avant-garde isn’t my main focus point all of the time, but it sure is fun and adds an extra flare to a lot of my projects.

What kind of products do you use to make such amazing avant-garde pieces?

So much hairspray! I have to stay true to the best products that I know, though. I used a ton of Bumble & bumble as well as Oribe products.

The windows truly are a beautiful reflection of art meets community meets retro roots; is there anything coming up after this that we can keep an eye out for?

Spring. We have a show coming up in the spring that I can’t talk a whole lot about, but this is just a taste of that and I am very excited about it.

Be sure to check out the retro whimsical window display for yourself. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from some of Decatur’s GREAT local shops to help fill those stockings this year. The Art Institute’s gallery windows can be found on downtown Decatur’s main drag, Ponce de Leon Avenue.


Photo’s provided courtesy of Farmer Dude & High Pulp Heart







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