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New Midtown salon combines arts, family values

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Lily Ann Lam grew up in two worlds. Her Chinese parents instilled traditional Eastern values in her, while her upbringing in Sacramento exposed her to American culture. She said the mix comes together in her Midtown salon – Hanami, which opened March 1.

Hanami (HAH-nah-me) is a Japanese word that describes the beauty of cherry blossoms, and Lam said it was a natural fit for a salon.

“The cherry blossoms are the result of a process,” she said. “They’re beautiful for two weeks … and that’s like hair. It goes through a process, and then it’s beautiful for a couple of weeks.”

Hanami is the first salon for Lam, who has been styling hair professionally for three years. Before that, she put to use her communications degree from San Jose State University as an office assistant.

But working in an office didn’t suit her.

“It wasn’t about the work or the money,” she said. “I just didn’t like it. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to have my own business and be my own boss.”

The mother of three also said she wanted her business to resemble something more like a family than a traditional business.

“I was born in Hong Kong, and my family has always been important to me,” she said.

One of Lam’s mentors has been Rowena Hiraga, who along with husband Takashi recently opened the Rowena & Takashi salon downtown.

“I think of her as family, not competition,” Lam said. “I still go to her when I need my hair cut.”

Rowena Hiraga described Lam as a “go-getter” who is full of passion for her work.

“I think she’s an incredible person, and she will be very successful,” Hiraga said, adding that she’s a little bit jealous that Lam isn’t working in her salon, but happy that they can be part of a group of professionals.

For now, Hanami is a hair salon, but Lam said she plans to expand to include spa services when business settles down.

The interior walls are painted black and decorated with paintings from local artists, and the four styling stations each have a mirror framed in red that set them off from the walls.

Midtown was the perfect fit, she said, since she has worked with artists for years, doing makeup and hair, and artwork on the walls of her salon is from local artists.

“For last Second Saturday (Art Walk), we had live DJs in here, and we’re planning to do an event for every Second Saturday,” she said.

Lam said that if she were to narrow down a specialty, it would be up-dos, which are popular with some of her clients, but she can do whatever customers are looking for.

First-time client Megan Weaklend said she came to Hanami on the recommendation of a friend.

“I’ve seen a lot of the hairstyles (Lam does),” Weaklend said. “It’s really a good look. I’m trusting my hair with her.”

Weaklend said she has never had her hair colored before, but she chose Hanami because of the recommendation and the ambiance.

“There’s just a really nice vibe in here, and the stylists are awesome and welcoming,” she said.”

Lam’s hair product supplier is the Italian Davines, which she said she chose partly for its quality and partly for being a family-owned company.

“It’s a great product, but we’re also lenient on pricing because we understand that the economy is bad,” Lam said. “But we also understand people still want to present a good image.”

A basic all-over hair coloring starts at $55, she said.

The economy didn’t give her pause when deciding to open a business.

“There’s a lot of opportunity right now,” she said. “There are lots of spaces open, and you can’t let fear about a bad economy keep you from your dreams.”

Hanami is open Tuesday – Saturday. Hours on Tuesday – Thursday are 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., and hours on Friday and Saturday are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Hanami is located at 1115 21st St.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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