Alexis and David Thurston
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Come Fly With Us

Known as the premier salon for education, environment and culture in the San Fernando Valley, Butterfly Loft Salon ● Spa has created a new paradigm for booth rental salons and salon suites.

Vibrant. Passionate. Progressive. These are only three of the many dynamic adjectives that describe Butterfly Loft Salon ● Spa, which now occupies over 10,000 square feet of space on Ventura Boulevard, the sweet spot for upscale businesses in Encino, California.

Fall 2015 Find in
Fall 2015

Owners Alexis and David Thurston took the area by storm less than five years ago when they opened Butterfly Loft Salon, a 4,300-squarefoot, 31-chair, green-certified destination salon for independent stylists, nail artists, estheticians and makeup artists.

Despite the size of their business-and unlike most booth rental salons that struggle to keep their chairs full-Butterfly Loft grew to 100% occupancy in a very short period of time.

Within the first two years, the Thurstons also founded Ubungalows 1 and, more recently, Ubungalows 2 salon suites, which grew to 100% capacity in one week.

Their enterprise now occupies over 10,000 square feet of space and is filled to capacity with a healthy waiting list of stylists who are eager to become part of the Butterfly Loft experience.

To accomplish these feats, the Thurstons successfully filled multiple voids that are typically present in booth rental and suite salons: team work, education, inspiration and collaboration.

Sharing Common Career Goals

"When we opened Butterfly Loft Salon, we looked for indie stylists who were over-the-moon about doing hair and obsessed with growing their skills and their clienteles," says David. "By selectively filling our chairs, we were able to create a strong team of stylists who preferred to work individually and together to achieve common goals. Because of our business model, passion and philosophies, our salon continues to attract well-established stylists who want to ply their craft in a more inspiring work environment. To accommodate like-minded but less established stylists, we offer a graduated chair rental rate that starts low and increases by a specific amount every few months."

Butterfl y Loft Salon • Spa supports team members by posting their work on the salon’s Instagram page, @butterfl yloftsalon. Shown: hair by Janai Hartt, @harttofcolor
David Thurston

Pure Education

"As owners, we believe that one of our most important jobs is to continually inspire everyone who has chosen to work at our salon-especially when it comes to education. To this end, we host monthly education classes and workshops that are taught by renowned educators. All stylists- even those who aren't part of our organization-are welcome to attend and grow their knowledge and skills. Our only restriction is that our educators must truly educate and not talk about specific products or brands."

Note:The Thurstons most epic education event series to date is the Butterfly Circus, which features six or more independent guest artists every two to three months. (See "Join the Circus" in this article to learn more information about this stellar program.


The Thurstons are also strong proponents of Instagram, which has proven to be a prolific source of new clients.

As such, Butterfly Loft has a dynamic page (@Butterflyloftsalon) that primarily features the work of many stylists in their organization. They also encourage all members to be active on Instagram. And, by request, David mentors Butterfly Loft stylists on how to create a dynamic business page and build a robust following.

Butterfly Loft Salon ● Spa

Suite Success

When David and Alexis opened Butterfly Loft Salon, they did so with passion, know-how and a highly ambitious, multi-pronged dream. Things started off with a bang and continued without a hitch for a couple of years.Then it happened: Four stylists came to David and told him they were leaving to rent suites at a business that had just opened down the street.

"It was a real awakening," says David. "Alexis and isaw the writing on the wall and immediately agreed that since times were changing, we had to change with them. We began visiting suites in areas that were a great distance from our business to see what those complexes offered and how we could improve on the general business model. We also took a long, hard look at the type of stylist that would prefer to work in a traditional salon versus a suite."

Ubungalows by Butterfly Loft Salon ● Spa
Type Casting

According to David Thurston, co-owner of Butterfly Loft Salon ● Spa and Ubungalows, the "type" of stylist you are determines whether you prefer to work in a salon or a salon suite.

● Type 1 stylists enjoy the hubbub and energy of a bustling salon. They can be independent stylists, yet still want to participate in team activities and have social interaction with other staff members and clients throughout the day.

● Type 2 stylists prefer a one-on-one working environment and are happiest when they are relating to their clients in a private setting.

● Type 1-2 stylists like private, one-on-one time with their clients, but also feel the need to socialize, be inspired by others and participate in some salon activities.

Owners David and Alexis Thurston are staunch supporters of female equality in the pro-beauty industry.
Butterfly Loft Salon ● Spa encourages all of its members to be active on Instagram. Shown: Instagram post by Vanessa, @vanessashairaddiction

"The biggest challenge with a suite model is that inspiration and collaboration can't travel through walls. This is why all of our suite stylists are welcome to join in on any of our activities.

"When an adjoining space in our building became vacant, we created Ubungalows 1, a 2,100-square-foot space with seven spacious suites and an indoor lounge and outdoor patio area.

We customized each suite with different cabinetry and chandeliers. We also installed individual climate controls and outfitted each of them with topnotch equipment, including a halo color-processing machine.

At the front of the suites, there are oversized windows and, like our salon, glass doors.

Ubungalows 1 was at 100% occupancy within a week. We eventually took another adjoining unit and created Ubungalows 2, a larger space with the same upgrades. It was also at full capacity within a week of completion."

Honoring Their Vows

When David and Alexis opened Butterfly Loft, they committed their heart and soul to their salon. They also entered into their business relationship with the same ideals as they had in their personal relationship.

In fact, their lives are so deeply intertwined with their business and the people that make it all possible, they were married at their salon.

Both share common ideals and standards that include being eco-conscious, leading by example and experiencing their greatest joys through the success of others.

They also spend a great deal of time studying the future. Is Butterfly Loft destined to branch out to other areas of the country? Will it be the same business model or are there even newer and better ideas in the offing?

"We constantly ask ourselves these questions," says David. "It keeps us alert to any trends or changes that we should know about. Like everything in life, if you're standing still, you're already behind."

Just the Facts

Butterfly Loft Salon ● Spa and Ubungalows salon suites are located on the top floor of a multi-use building. The salon is green certified and features a continuous ribbon of oversized glass windows that provide a view of Ventura Boulevard and, on a clear day, the Encino Hills. Each of the three business components-Butterfly Loft Salon and Ubungalows 1 and 2-have an individual outdoor patio and interior lounge.

● Butterfly Loft Salon occupies 4,300-square-feet of space and includes 31 hair stations, 2 spa rooms and 2 makeup stations;

● Ubungalows 1 has 2,100 square feet of space and 7 individually designed suites (6 doubles and 1 single); and

● Ubungalows 2 occupies 4,300 square feet of space and includes 17 individually designed suites (9 doubles and 8 singles).

Join the Circus!

Noisy, inspiring and driven by passion, Butterfly Circus has taken a new approach to education that resonates with the professional beauty community.

Ask anyone who has had to sell tickets to an education event and you're likely to hear about how difficult it is to fill the house. Not so with Butterfly Circus, the one event that always sells out within minutes of going on sale.

For the price of admission, six or more independent educators treat attendees to 30-minute presentations on topics ranging from how to create a specific color melt pattern to six ways to clipper cut a Mohawk.

"Delivering education in its purest form-no product endorsements, please-we treat the event like a one-ring circus," says David. "It's fast-paced, informative and, quite often, highly interactive."

The rotating roster of educators also features many Instagram star stylists, including @hairgod_zito, @theconfessionsofahairstylist and @glamiris. Starting on their home turf, the Circus is now held in different cities throughout the country.

Many of the independent stylists and educators that are featured at Butterfly Circus events are wellknown on Instagram.
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