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Arts & Entertainment

Salon takes a RAW approach to style

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Monday, June 14, 2010

Since it opened a year ago this Tuesday, Studio Raw has already had to expand. Business -- like a client's hair -- continues to grow.

Studio Raw has a style of its own. It even has its own vocabulary in which hair dressers are referred to as designers. The shop is based on the concept of a studio, complete with a Steinway baby grand piano and live concerts broadcast on an LCD television in a lounge area. Employees entertain you from the minute you step inside.

"This is not your typical salon," says client Lori LaMarca from Beechview, as she sips wine and nibbles a chocolate chip cookie. "It is like a party. Everyone here has a blast. You can't beat it. It's a hidden gem."

Located on Babcock Boulevard in Ross, Studio Raw is celebrating its one-year anniversary on Tuesday. Owners Rohn Neugebauer, Laraine Burda and her son, Dan Burda, created the one-of-a-kind salon where their slogan is: "Life doesn't suck ... maybe it's just your hair."

Their definition of a studio is a place where artists master their work. The "Raw" part of the name is an acronym for "Revealing Anew Within."

The Burdas are designers, creative directors, managing partners and co-owners. Neugebauer, who is sales director for Coldwell Banker, Fox Chapel, is the chief financial officer, business manager and co-owner.

"We wanted a new, fresh and hip kind of place that is inviting and fun," says Neugebauer. "And we certainly feel we have that with the talented people we have working here. They look at facial structure and offer advice for what is the best style for each client. They are knowledgeable of new trends, hair styles and products, so they keep current.

"Dan is the life of the party," he says. "He and (designer) Erin (Mullen) banter back and forth all day. You never quite know what they are going to say next."

Don't be surprised if Dan Burda starts singing -- he was a contestant on "Star Search."

"We have clients from all walks of life," says Dan Burda. "From attorneys to waitresses. ... We treat them all with respect because we appreciate their business. We also try to make this a fun experience and create an event rather than an appointment. An appointment is when you go to the doctor -- not when you get your hair done. We also teach clients how to style their own hair."

The client is the center of attention. They can relax in the outdoor patio under a blow dryer and have a complimentary drink or snack as they listen to the creek below. In addition to wine, beer and spirits, there are soft drinks, baked goods and other snacks available. Pizza is often a choice, and there are TV dinners in the freezer for customers who have missed a meal.

Cuts start at $20. A cut and color ranges from $85 to $150.

In addition to hair cuts -- they call it scissoring -- Studio Raw offers coloring, referred to as spotlighting, bright lights and shading. Pampering services include fresh water pedicures and manicures, waxing services and massage. The Red Carpet transformation is an updo and makeup application.

Taking a chance on a nontraditional salon wasn't scary for Laraine Burda, who has 38 years of experience in the business.

"I love being part of this," she says. "I may be the oldest one here, but this is my way of giving back, of passing it on, of paying it forward. There were plenty of people who helped to mentor me, and I want to mentor others. I love working with my son. We have a great relationship and both enjoy doing hair."

Dan Burda has been following in his mother's footsteps since he was a child. He always had the best-dressed Barbie doll with perfect hair. He's been styling mannequin heads since he was 3 years old. Dan is passionate about making clients look awesome by creating new looks.

"Change is good," Dan Burda says. "As seasons change, hairstyles should change. We are trying to be a little more urban and a little less suburban. We love to create new looks. We want everyone to feel beautiful when they leave here. Life is short. Have fun with your hair."

Studio Raw, 3185 Babcock Blvd., Ross. Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Appointments recommended. Details: 888-729-2004 or Mystudioraw.com

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