After a year of soul searching and self-examination, Sonya Dove reached a decision to close The Doves by DNA, a salon she co-owns with Danny LeClair and Aubrey Loots in Santa Monica, California. The salon, which Dove opened with her former husband Christopher Dove as The Doves Studio ten years ago, will close on October 31.
“As the lease on the space came to an end, I came to a personal realization,” Dove says. “I still love teaching and seeing seeing clients, but I want to begin to balance my work and my personal life and the only way to create time for new opportunities was to let something go—and for me that meant the salon.”
As one of the world’s top professional beauty educators, Dove serves as a global top stylist for Wella Professional, as an ambassador for Hair Dreams, and as one of six educators that make up Ulta’s Pro team. As a Wella top artist, Aubrey Loots also is an in-demand educator, and LeClair divides his time between managing Loots’ career and serving as salon manager.
“The lease coming up for renewal was a crossroads moment for us, and we all came to the conclusion it was best to relinquish the salon,” LeClair adds. “The most difficult part of that decision is that we’ve built a phenomenal team and we wanted to honor them by helping each one find a home that was equitable.”
For the past four months, the owners have been calling local salons and helping set up interviews for their team members, and they are happy to report they have found homes for all 16 stylists. Dove will continue to see clients a few days a week out of Ulta in Santa Monica, Loots and about two-thirds of the salon’s stylists will move to Nesou Salon in Santa Monica. And, LeClair will continue managing Loots’ career, as well as take on various salon consulting and event management projects.
“Some of our team members have been with me since I opened ten years ago, and they are my children,” Dove says. “We are so fortunate that many of our team members also are educators for Wella, Sebastian and Nioxin. and we will continue to work together on various projects. We also intend on continuing our tradition of getting together regularly for a cocktail.”
Before coming to the United States, Sonya and Christopher Dove opened Sophisticut Salon in Great Britain in 1980. From 1984 to 1993, they traveled the world as stylists. In 1994, they moved to the United States to work as creative directors for Shelton Salon and Schools and became ambassadors for Wella’s Global Trend Vision. In 1998, they moved to New York, becoming creative directors for Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons. In 2001, they followed their Wella careers to Los Angeles and opened the Santa Monica salon and hairdressing academy in 2007.
While Dove says the last ten years have been a blast, she admits making the decision to close the salon brought with it a big sense of relief. “Owning a salon is tough in today’s world, especially in California. The constant administrative work it takes to run the business was pulling at all of us,” Dove says. “We started contemplating this decision about a year ago, and we considered multiple options—in fact we approached some of our employees to see if they wanted to purchase it, but they didn’t.”
So now that Dove is finishing the chapter on her salon business, what’s on the horizon? “To be honest, I’m one of those people who just do, do, do and I don’t ever let anything go,” Dove says. “My challenge will be in not filling up the time I’m freeing up with more work. I need to learn how to just be, and truly enjoy the beautiful part of the country where I live.”