Julia Roberts' Hair Colorist Opens Holistic Beauty Atelier in Venice (Exclusive)

Liz Bretz
Highbrow Hippie founders Kadi Lee (left) and Myka Harris

The new, under-the-radar wellness haven from Kadi Lee and entrepreneur Myka Harris is a chic, one-stop shop for hair and nail services, beauty products, yoga and meditation classes, snacks from The Butcher's Daughter and more.

Summer may be over, but the beauty scene on the Westside is heating up with the opening of Highbrow Hippie, a new beauty and wellness atelier co-founded by star hair colorist Kadi Lee (known for her work with Julia Roberts, Amber Valletta, Kristin Davis and Diane Von Furstenberg) and beauty entrepreneur Myka Harris.

Highbrow Hippie began as a blog, on which longtime friends Lee and Harris shared their beauty and wellness advice and insider tips, before the idea for a bricks-and-mortar space developed.

The pair first met as students at Spelman College before Harris left to attend Parsons School of Design in Paris and then settled in Atlanta to open a natural nail salon. Lee, meanwhile, moved to New York to work for Frederic Fekkai and then landed in some of the starriest salons in Los Angeles, including Serge Normant, Jonathan & George, Goddard + Bragg and, most recently, stylist Cervando Maldonado’s 454 North, where she built up a devoted clientele.

“The time had come when I wanted to make life simpler for my clients and myself,” says Lee. “This is like a home where you can relax and hang out. It’s not loud or chaotic, which is something my clients often felt overwhelmed by.”

Situated on the second floor of an airy bungalow on Abbott Kinney Boulevard (ground zero for haute bohemiennes), the atelier manages to be in the middle of the action, yet set back from the hustle and bustle of Venice (and paparazzi-proof, thanks to a pair of giant fiddle-leaf fig trees). Designed by Harris down to the mirrors, cabinetry and soft furnishings, the highlight of the spacious studio — which includes a separate shampoo area and meditation room — is the sun-dappled patio with three chairs for cuts and color and a large custom-built couch covered in vintage Moroccan pillows where clients can catch up on work or sip a chilled glass of rosé. “It’s mid-century meets Morocco with lots of organic and natural elements,” she says.

The menu includes color services by Lee, who has become the go-to for not just blondes, brunettes and balayage but also for healthy color changes: “I’ve taken Julia from blonde to red to brunette again, and it takes a lot of care. I’ve found that’s my niche, keeping the hair on the head,” she says. There are also cuts with Hector Garcia, (who also came from 454 North Salon); additional color services with Ashley Pineda (who trained under Lee); daily yoga and meditation classes (led by Harris, who trained in the alignment-based Purna method); crystal manis and pedis; and Japanese scalp facials. (Cuts start at $225, base color at $175 and highlights at $350.)

Because top-billed color transformations can often take the best part of a day, Highbrow Hippie has teamed up with The Butcher’s Daughter on an in-house, all-day menu (founder Heather Tierney is a longtime friend and client) and Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. for pour-over coffee.

Clients can also kill time with a little retail therapy in the form of a curated selection of hair products, including Serge Normant  (“the best styling products,” says Lee); Christophe Robin (“great for color care”); and Virtue (“their proprietary keratin is a serious game-changer"). Harris’ favorite natural beauty brands including Palermo Body, Everyday Oil and Mazz Hanna. There is also a selection of vintage Moroccan rugs and Indian block-print dresses.

Says Harris of their hope for the salon, “We want the customer to feel transformed every time they visit, indulging in experiences that promote well-being and sharing those experiences with friends.”

Highbrow Hippie, 1617 Abbot Kinney Blvd. 2nd Floor in Venice; (310) 363-7542 or email love@highbrowhippie.com to book appointments.