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August 26, 2009
El Dorado Hills salon is reaching beyond the 'hills'


Tomorrow night, models representing the Rowena & Takashi Salon and education center in El Dorado Hills will once again walk the runway at the Park Ultra Lounge (15 and L streets) in recognition of the salon being named the winner of last fall's Hair Wars competition, which was held in the same venue.

What's different? Obviously, the pressure of being judged is gone (sort of like a winner reappearing on "American Idol").

"We're doing a showcase featuring about eight people," Rowena Hiraga says. She and her husband, Takashi (pictured), are the creative force behind the salon, which specializes in - no pun intended - cutting-edge styles and education.

Rowena already has cut the models' hair, they've practiced several times and local fashion designer Lauren Oto, who was profiled this past Sunday in The Bee's Living Here section, is doing the clothing.

The show has got all the makings for a showstopper.

"It's an opportunity for people who come to know what we do," Rowena says. "Sometimes it feels like we've been hidden (in the hills) for 10 years."

Rowena was an instructor for the prestigious Vidal Sassoon, one of the biggest names in the hair-styling industry. Takashi, who Rowena calls a "Da Vinci kind of guy," has studied gems, done graphic design and even been a chef. They met at the Sassoon academy. These days, the couple agree getting your hair done is a luxury for some.

"The economy has affected everybody, including ourselves," she says. "Women and men really want some (styling) bang for their buck. Much like fashion. You can buy an incredible outfit from Versace, have it for 10 years and still get compliments. And then wear a T-shirt from Target and it could be disposable."

Rowena encourages clients to find a style that's suitable, not high maintenance, with different textures and manageable highlights. "That way, their hair changes its look as it grows."

"My gift is connecting, listening to a client and then executing something beautiful because of my training," she says.

Rowena and Takashi's show is being videotaped by Dagen Merrill, a noted filmmaker, salon client and friend.

"We're honored he's taping this for us, and we'll be using it for education in the salon," Rowena says.

The Hiraga's show on Thursday will follow this week's Hair Wars competition, which starts at 10 p.m. and features two salons. The hair finale is Sept. 3.

The couple's salon is at 4989 Golden Foothill Pkwy. in El Dorado Hills. For more info: (916) 941-9171 or the Web site,

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