By Jade Chang | February 18, 2013 | People
Samira Asemanfar gets “Brootalized” in her Montana Avenue salon.
“Some people who walk by think it’s a smoothies bar,” says Samira Asemanfar, the 30-year-old beauty entrepreneur whose own dark, glossy locks might be the best advertisement for her latest venture, a natural hair mask bar called TheBroot (an amalgam of “back to your root”). The whir of the blender and the salon’Â's veggie logo probably fool all those yummy mummies breezing down Montana Boulevard, where Asemanfar’s approximately 700-square-foot storefront opened last fall.
Instead of tasty drinks, those BrootTenders are whipping up hair-restorative concoctions made of healing ingredients like eggs, avocado, mayo, honey, and coconut, jojoba, and olive oils. After the mixture is slathered on, the customer sits under one of the old-school dome heaters, letting the surprisingly delicious-smelling goop seep in, before getting rinsed, shampooed, and blown out, and if she likes, sent out into the world with a cute braid. Plus, in honor of awards season, Asemanfar is adding an In-N-Out-style secret menu of ingredients. A contender for that list? Bull testicles (for strength and shine), which she says one of her friends swears by. “We’re creating a space in the market here,” says Asemanfar, who is betting on hair masks becoming a weekly or monthly must for the well-maintained woman.
Indeed, the USC grad, who was raised in Calabasas, is no stranger to gambling on a good idea. In 2006 she turned her twice-a-week nail salon habit and brand-building zeal into the successful Bellacures, a chain of luxury nail salons that created a new niche in an overcrowded beauty category. It now has seven outlets on destination shopping streets like Robertson and Balboa Island and is beloved of supermodels (such as Alessandra Ambrosio and Tyra Banks) and superstars (Reese Witherspoon, Cameron Diaz, and Demi Moore). Early mentoring came from multimillionaire business guru Tom Kardashian—Â—aka Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney’Â's oft-consulted Â“Uncle Tom—who has been on Asemanfar’s speed dial for years.
Both Bellacures and TheBroot stem from Asemanfar’s childhood love of beauty. “I wasn’t allowed to get my nails done until I was 12, but I was a strategic thinker,” she says. The young nail biter convinced her parents that acrylics would stop her nibbling. By the time she left for college, Asemanfar and her mother—who now owns and operates the Beverly Hills Bellacures—were doing weekly hair masks together.
TheBroot’s hair recipes have been passed down from Asemanfar’s mother and grandmother, and by the look of the salon, so has the décor. “Â“I wanted it to feel homey, like a master bathroom,” she says, but with one exception: no gossip mags. “You’re nourishing your hair, so we have books around to nourish your mind as well,” says Asemanfar. In fact, instead of finding celebs in glossy spreads, you’ll likely find them in person at TheBroot—with their hair full of signature smoothies. 1626 Montana Ave., Santa Monica, 310-230-5317
photography by elisabeth caren; makeup by cheryl calo for cloutier remix