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Sophia Hyet for ANDREA KEHL

Sophia Hyet for Andrea Kehl

Sophia Hyet, a photographer and owner of a luxury travel and lifestyle brand talks about her experience with salons worldwide and her visit at the Leading Salon of Andrea Kehl in Munich.

What was the main reason for you to go to a hairstylist in Europe/ Germany?
I travel to source global inspiration behind creative and unique adventure concepts. My firm is a luxury brand for private travel experiences, on account of which I spend a lot of time away from home. I’ve crossed every sea from West to East and back about three times this year alone… My recent trip to Japan and Scotland had me routed via Germany on Lufthansa. I try to search for hidden “gift” time lying spare on these layovers to get myself together amid a long flying schedule - whether its a quick spa facial or a last-minute touch up for my hair that kept getting put off on account of my schedule back home.

Why in Munich?
I called up the local LSW office and gave them my itinerary where I had free dates - I was going around the world in 8 days so it was tricky to figure out but as luck would have it I would be in Germany for just under 24 hours. They referred me to Andrea Kehl and I looked up their portfolio online. It was an easy decision that the salon suited but the travel was admittedly a rush, though in the end totally worth it. I arrived in Munich at 1:05pm and thanks to the fabulous Lufthansa First Class service was out of the terminal and into the hotel car by 1:20pm, ending up in the swivel chair at the salon by 3pm. Munich Airport is fantastically convenient.

Why didn’t you consult a hairdresser in Tokyo?
I did originally attempt to source a colorist in Japan and there was undoubtedly some great talent whom I was referred to but language ended up as a significant barrier for me. Being raised across 3 continents, I speak 5 languages fluently but regrettably, Japanese didn’t happen to be one of them! They were really polite and willing to help but the appointment process got lost in translation and quickly actualized the tower of limitations for me.

What is different in a salon in the US?
I have worked with stylists in the West Coast, however, it’s difficult to manage a relationship with a great colorist here when the appointments have to be scheduled by the book and I can’t tell where I’ll be from one week to the next. I find the colorists in New York and Las Vegas to be fantastic but given my erratic travel calendar it somehow always works easier to consult with my favorite colorist in Hong Kong or Europe, for example, rather than fighting the last minute appointment books domestically.
Frankly, to be really good out here has an instant star repute and your appointments start to get scarcer with the people you once held repeat patronage with. It’s a strange distancing effect and while its great for the salons, it’s not so great for the client who is a working professional depending upon the flexibility of someone they’ve invested with for a while. So the compromise for me is to source low-key salon professionals who are committed to establishing those kinds of relations preferential to maintaining a boutique client list.

Are you satisfied with the result and service you received in Munich?
I enjoyed my visit with Andrea and the brief chat with Christian as they collaborated on the color tones for me. With the change in temperature and water from one time zone to the next, adding to the drying out effect of long-haul flights, my needs tend to be effortless, fuss-free hair that can be managed on the go and stay minimally-styled - which is precisely what Andrea Kehl grasped and delivered, but at the same time with a hint of je ne sais quoi glam. I’m really pleased.

Did you enjoy the ambiance, the service, the care?
Aside from Andrea’s warm, cultured and professional demeanor which was refreshing and truly down to earth, I actually enjoyed the chance encounter of a true locals’ neighborhood experience in suburban Munich. People of varied ages chatting amongst each other in elegantly- accented Bavarian and regulars taking espresso after a day at work in dark winter time. And then there was the equestrian element of the horse-shoe chandeliers and bridled mirrors - having my own stable of horses I loved that aspect of the clean, well-appointed decor. It just felt very comfortable and casual being there which was in itself a charming insight into life in that little tucked-away neighborhood of Munich. The Salon is right next to the breathtaking Villa Stuck with little restaurants, chocolate shops and sweetly-smiling residents strolling along with their well-coated dogs. It felt effortless to sit back in the cozy salon environ and take in the whole Christmassy spirit. When I commented on the intimate atmosphere of the space Andrea knowingly joked how in busy-time summer the patrons are keen to grab a drink and sit out on the gorgeous front patio with foils and rollers in their hair, taking “musical chair” turns to be in the salon tended by herself and Christian. No one minds the cozy size and they mutually prefer it remains that way. I noticed no one sat aloof on their cell phones tapping away - every one seemed to be engaged with one another which was kind of cool and rooted in the aspect of a community meeting point to catch up and enjoy the little pleasure of breaking routine with some pampering. It’s a warm environment.

Would you come back?

Have you been able to look around Munich afterwards?
You know, it’s funny…my iPhone predicted “flurries” and naturally being a fair-weather Californian with freshly made-up hair I shied away from venturing too far! I enjoyed a lovely Italian supper next door at Nuovo Casale and headed back to my hotel to catch up on some sleep…before jumping on the plane early the next morning to Osaka! I adore Munich and have visited the city’s outer-lying areas often in the spring time. My favorite is the Nymphenburg Palace garden.

What is your profession?
I am a photographer and own a luxury travel and lifestyle brand that represents a few Leading Hotels of the World and is a major buyer for some really special Relais & Chateaux properties across the globe, specifically in Africa.

Can you combine work and leisure?
I think every person who is on the road constantly for work endeavors to find that balance and appreciates gaining some beauty from the experience of venturing out to foreign lands, even if that brief luxury is afforded a couple thousand feet above the clouds or finding a little hole-in-the-wall place in town to sample a local delicacy. Ultimately, it’s hard not to enjoy it all, in reflection, no matter how exhausting it all gets or how long you’re kept away from home. There are many kinds of travel bugs! You get addicted to crossing the date line to photograph the blazing autumn leaves in Kyoto or the morning herd of elephant by the water outside your lodge suite in remotest East Africa. With my line of work, travel is my trade and my passion.

In which country are the best hair salons?
Speaking from personal experience, my most satisfying encounters and meetings have been with stylists in Hong Kong, Paris and now Germany. I’m not saying it has anything to do with geography, it was more so with the select people, true professionals, I’ve had the pleasure to be treated by. The one thing they all assuredly have in common is the high referral from Leading Salons of the World that has helped me source some incredibly talented people, and indeed eventual good friends I would doubtless cross an ocean to see again.

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