Faces From The Neighborhood

Relax with Natalie Arias at Mona Lisa Salon

Mona Lisa Salon, owned by Natalie Arias, offers top notch boutique salon services in a fashionable, yet comfortable and friendly setting.  Enjoy the cocktail of the month (lavender martinis for October), tea or cucumber infused water while you get your hair styled, indulge in a pedicure, or spoil yourself with a spa treatment.

The Atmosphere

At Mona Lisa Salon, Natalie Arias set out to create a salon that offers high quality services and is also a place for her clients to relax from their busy lives.  Her salon uses as few chemical as possible (no permanent waves or hair straightening), seeks out low scent and organic products as much as possible, and colors hair using a steam processing system to reduce the amount of time clients are exposed to the hair coloring chemicals and fumes.

I experienced first hand the pleasure of walking into a salon without my senses getting attacked by the all too common chemical scent in many salons.

Creating Mona Lisa

Natalie started her hair styling career at Hickox & Friends Studio in downtown Portland.  She apprenticed and worked five years there before venturing out on her own. Her next stop was Legends Salon. When purchasing it did not work out, Natalie was a pioneer in opening one of the first salons in the Pearl District in 1992.  She leased out and renovated a 2700 square foot basement on 11th & NE Glisan and opened Aphrodite Salon.  Natalie remembers the Pearl District was mostly warehouses then and a bit sketchy.  She even hired security guards to walk clientele to their vehicles after dark!  Aphrodite grew from five stylists to 27 within five years.  Although the stylists leased space from her, they loved working there because Natalie treated them like employees and family.

Five years later, Natalie opened Mona Lisa Salon at McKenzie Lofts in the Pearl District while also running Aphrodite.  Mona Lisa Salon originated as a place for new hairstylists to learn and to establish their businesses.  A few years later, Natalie decided to focus her attention on Mona Lisa Salon and create a more relaxing environment for herself and her clients.  She also wanted to get back to what she loves to do – being a hairstylist, instead of spending most her time managing a business.  She sold Aphrodite to the manager. Natalie moved Mona Lisa Salon to 1001 SE Water Avenue about 10 years ago and created the salon it is today.

Natalie’s Story

Natalie began her professional life in banking in Eugene.  As fate would have it, she went to get her hair cut the day she was passed over for a promotion.  Her hair stylist mentioned the Creative Institute of Design. Natalie enrolled and never looked back. In fact, Natalie had given her first hair cut with paper scissors when she was in 1st grade. (Needless to say, that friend was not allowed to visit again). But, Natalie kept cutting her dolls’ and then her friends’ hair, and dabbled in piercing ears.

Natalie had found her calling.  Natalie has design in her soul.  She changes the interior and atmosphere of the salon every five years or so, while still maintaining the sense of relaxation.  She loves helping her clients find a new look.

Natalie also loves Portland.  The SE waterfront, where her salon is, reminds her of the Pearl District in its early days.  A little bit of an earthy quality, but a great sense of community with mostly local business owners. She is also a dog and cat lover, like many of us in Portland.  She spends her free time walking Shorty, her Pembroke Corgi who goes everywhere with her, walking, and reading at least one book a week.  Her daughter attends PSU, and they spend Sundays together.  Natalie goes on an annual camping trip with her niece.

Mona Lisa Salon offers hair styling, glycolic peels, eyebrow/eye lash tinting, manicures and pedicures, and make-up application.  To learn more about Mona Lisa Salon, visit Mona Lisa Salon or the Facebook page.  Phone calls are also welcome:  503-227-5202.  Mona Lisa Salon is located at 1001 SE Waterfront Avenue, Suite 140

Lisa Ratzlaff

Lisa Ratzlaff is a web designer who loves telling the amazing stories of interesting people and businesses in Portland, Oregon. Her web design business is Share Your Story Media, where she builds powerful websites for small service-based businesses that help them succeed online.