Stylist Christie Rawson spent years planning to open Studio C Hair Salon a Beauty Lounge. She picked out premium products, filled the space with modern furniture and airy colors, and gathered an experienced staff of stylists, manicurists, and aestheticians.
Today, her stylists cut, color, and style hair with L'Oréal Professionnel products as clients lounge in modern, white styling chairs in front of oversize oval mirrors. Staffers shampoo scalps in a row of sinks lined with plush armchairs—though Christie also prides herself on her dry-cutting, or freehand, skills. Aestheticians cleanse faces with Rhonda Allison cosmeceutical products and use glo mineral makeup to create rosy cheeks for weddings or smoky eyes for a coal miner's retirement party. White pendant lights illuminate the pristine nail bar, where patrons perch on stools as manicurists apply nail lacquers by OPI and butter London or treat guests to a Get Fresh aromatherapy pedicure. All of the studio's utensils are also sterilized in a medical grade Autoclave and wrapped in self-enclosed packaging while pedicure bowls never recirculate and lined for one-time use.
Randy Long entered the working world as a travel agent, a vocation that whet his appetite for globetrotting, adventure, and haggling with airlines. When he became a father and husband, he passed a passion for thrill seeking on to his family, and their recent escapades include scuba diving in Barbados and dog sledding in Alaska. It was this thirst for exploration and a love of aviation that drove Randy to become an FAA-certified powered-parachute instructor and found Arizona Powerchutes.
Powered parachutes are comprised of two-seater, wheeled carts that float 20 feet beneath 40-foot parachutes. At sunrise—or sunset during the cooler months—Randy and a passenger climb aboard the cart, and Randy hits the throttle, gathering speed for about 100 feet before the parachute fully inflates and hoists the cart into the air. Randy adjusts the altitude to his patron's comfort level and steers crafts over the exotic plants and mountain silhouettes of the Sonoran Desert, averaging a speed of 26 miles per hour. After journeys, powered parachutes float to land safely, as they are inspected by the pilot prior to each flight and by an FAA-approved facility after every 100 hours of operation.
At Lynda Orescanin’s lampwork studio, she melts rods and tubes of glass into silver-studded spheres and delicate aquamarine swirls. Intricately detailed and no bigger than an eraser tip, the glass beads resemble paperweights for a doll’s desk. “I love the way the glass flows,” says Ms. Orescanin. “I love that you can’t rush it.”
Ms. Orescanin brings that same passion and expertise to her shop’s jewelry-making classes. She seeks out striking materials for her students, from Czech pressed-glass beads and Afghan lapis to metal charms cut from recycled filing cabinets. Inside her intimate studio, she strives to create a nurturing, friendly environment that encourages experimentation. Classes allow up to six students to sidle up to the well-lit worktable and try their hand at making jewelry. Ms. Orescanin walks them through the basics of jewelry making, from tool use to beading technique. “People say, ‘Oh, I’m not creative, I don’t know anything about color,’" she says. "But when they finish something, I’m like, ‘Wow, it's magnificent. I would have never thought to put those together in that particular way.”
A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
The family behind Fletcher's Tire & Auto Service opened their first shop more than four decades ago. Today, they operate more than 30 locations scattered throughout Arizona, where they work to provide automobiles and their owners with expert repairs and preventive maintenance. Technicians keep cars safely running, stopping, and creeping slowly past ex-girlfriends' houses with regular maintenance services such as oil changes, alignments, and air filter replacement. Oil changes come with a battery test and a tire rotation to ensure that tires wear evenly, and most services are backed by warranties that start at 12 months and 12,000 miles. More than 15 brands of tires get paired with appropriate chariots thanks to a convenient online tire-size guide, and computerized alignment services help improve gas mileage and safety.
The staff at Cocomo Joe’s characterize the restaurant as a “pause button” from the ringing phones and stressful traffic of reality. Here, the melody of lively music, roar of televised sports games, and chatter of friends permeate the restaurant’s festively decorated space. Strings of lights dangle from the ceiling of the colorful, island-themed dining room, illuminating pool tables and flat-screen televisions. Bartenders dart about beneath a straw-thatched canopy, doling out tiki glasses of margaritas and frozen drinks. Servers emerge from the kitchen, bearing platters of spicy tacos, juicy burgers, and the hot wings lauded by reporters from Dine Out Phoenix. Teams assemble on Tuesday nights for trivia. Come Friday, the joint booms with the beats of live music from local bands. During Wednesday and Sunday-night karaoke, it’s the guests who take the stage to belt out favorite pop songs, beloved oldies, and meaningful hot-dog commercial jingles.