Beach bums beware: San Diego is getting a dose of London style with Saco's new hair salon and school. The company, which has locations in London and Montreal, opened its first U.S. outpost in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter this summer, and attracted more than 200 new clients in its first eight weeks. "We have a growing reputation internationally," says Saco Artistic Director Thomas Leach, who owns the San Diego locale and credits a partnership with Wella for helping them break into the U.S. market. "Because we're based in London, we're on top of trends and can bring them to San Diego quickly. Our style is cutting-edge, but realistic." Leach acknowledges that San Diego is not exactly known as an epicenter of style, but his goal is to teach clients to be trendsetters and find their individual looks.
Saco is not just an upscale salon, but a hairdressing school, as well. "What's great about having the school attached to the salon is that students can see the working salon and know what their futures will be like," Leach says. Stylists from other salons in the area are also coming in for advanced classes, as are Saco's own staff members. "We're all lifelong students of hair, so we push education," Leach explains. —L.M.