Fashion Forward
With sleek styling, premium products and impeccable service, Main Line boutique salon Opal Designs puts the “urban” back in “suburban”
by Sharon A. Shaw

Being “in style” means always looking ahead to see what’s next. In the three years since opening Opal Designs in Wayne, stylist Joseph Ferrer has never once looked in the rear view.

“I knew what we were offering was niche,” Ferrer says of the urban style he offers in his Main Line salon. “I thought it would be challenging, but the reception has been awesome. … It is so exciting that we are being embraced by the community, and our clientele appreciates what we have to offer. We are a boutique salon, with an intimate environment that is right for the discerning client who wants hands-on attention. We are the salon for the client looking for individual styling—a more contemporary feel to their hair and their look—not the salon where girls come in all looking alike and leave all looking the same. We are for the client looking to have patent-leather hair and swoon-worthy style.”

Fresh off the Christian Louboutin-adorned heels of New York Fashion Week, where Ferrer styled models for designer Zac Posen, Opal Designs was recently honored as Best Salon and Ferrer as Best Stylist in the “Best of the Main Line” awards. Yet Ferrer is quick to add that there is nothing pretentious about the salon’s approach to styling its guests. “Our customer service is impeccable,” he says. “You are greeted at the door with a smile and a hello. … This is not a place where you can hide; you come here and have fun. It’s not a place where [people] look you up and down, we welcome all ages, ethnicities, sizes and shapes.” It is this combination of atmosphere, service and talent that has helped to make Opal Designs stand head and shoulders above its peers.

The salon also uses the finest products, carrying lines that “you will not find readily at any big-box salon,” Ferrer says. This includes formaldehyde-free keratin treatments for winter-ravaged hair, plant based, cruelty-free and organic hair color—including a Danish color-line that yields strong, shiny hair with long-lasting color—and shampoos that cultivate thicker, healthier hair. Ferrer, who goes to New York City every other weekend to remain at the forefront of the industry, makes a point of traveling the country as time permits so he can “stay up to date on the best products available.”

One of the salon’s specialties is revitalizing hair damaged by over-processing and the traditional approach to color. “We pre-treat every client before any chemical service,” Ferrer says. “It’s like pre-coating a canvas; it fills in any damage and allows the hair fiber to hold color without fading.” Opal Designs’ marine-based bonding product is used after every color service. It allows the stylist to “push the bar on blonde,” protecting hair from breakage and creating a brilliantly reconstructed effect that lasts four to six weeks. This treatment can also be used to improve damaged hair or for those who simply want stronger hair.

Opal Designs has recently added a new makeup line and several new stylists, including Lauren Hofmann, formally of Vanity Salon in Center City, and Michael Freid. Both were trained by Ferrer, who prides himself on being a “hands on” boss with discerning taste and high continuing education requirements. “It is very important that we don’t get passive in our approach to providing the most urbane design,” Ferrer says. “My goal is to make my staff members as confident and fashion forward as anyone in the city.” He makes it clear that the salon could not have grown without the help of Nicole D’Angeli, saying, “It is her professionalism and customer service that have made Opal so popular.”

New clients typically receive a consultation before any styling to assure they are “on the same page” as their stylist. “They bring what they are looking for, and it is our job as professionals to point out what will work in terms of their coloring, facial structure and ability to care for their style,” says Ferrer. One such client, Barbara Kucia, was referred to Opal Designs by a friend six months ago because, at 45, she had begun to experience unwanted changes in her hair texture and thickness. 

“The atmosphere in there is awesome,” Kucia says. “The second you meet [Ferrer] you feel as if you’ve known him forever. … He gets to know you. He doesn’t want to push a certain product or just make money; he wants to see what’s best for you.” Thanks to his styling skills and product recommendations, Kucia now says she has not only a new look but also a new outlook. “He has absolutely changed my hair,” she says. “He’s changed my life.” 

Tracy Schutt is the self-described “biggest cheerleader” of Opal Designs. She has gone to the salon for cuts, colors, hair-conditioning treatments and extensions, and she says every experience has been a good one. One of the things she appreciates most, though, is the at-home care she is able to perform because of the products and training Opal Designs offers. Schutt jokes that she should become a distributor for the French organic line, a favorite at Opal Designs, because of the compliments and inquiries she receives on her hair. “People who know me have seen a change,” she says.

One of the things most helpful to Schutt was the so-called “Blow-Dry Boot Camp,” which Opal Designs will host once again later this month. Here, attendees are invited to bring their own tools from home so Ferrer and his team can provide “military-like training to teach customers how to do their own swoon-worthy blow-out,” while enjoying light bites and champagne. “New clients who want a new style are not automatically capable of finishing the work themselves,” Ferrer says. “Our Blow-Dry Boot Camps helps them achieve that.”

For any prospective client interested in trying a new look, the salon hosts weekly cutting and coloring classes for its stylists, so it’s always on the lookout for new models. “My staff gets an opportunity to be more creative, and clients can step out of box and be inspired to be more fashion forward,” says Ferrer. Those interested can visit their website or follow Opal Designs on social media—Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—to see its latest looks and special spring promotions, including a prom-package essay contest.

True to form, Ferrer and his team at Opal Designs are always looking forward. One of Ferrer’s goals for the coming year is to move to a larger space that will enable Opal Designs to offer spa-style treatments and skin care. “As we enter our third year, we are looking forward to an expansion project to be able to serve more clients,” he says. “We have gotten so busy and we want to expand our ability to provide these contemporary services to a greater clientele.” 

Opal Designs
7 Louella Court
Wayne, PA 19087
484-367-7368 |

Photograph by Jody Robinson