Life’s too short for boring hair. Just ask Key West hairstylist Courtney Howard — she knows a thing or two about spicing up a look. Howard graduated in 2009 from the Aveda Institute in Tampa and has been changing people’s lives ever since, by way of changing their hair.
The blonde bombshell hated doing homework and knew that traditional schooling wasn’t going to be her cup of tea. She soon found her niche doing hair and excelled in her field, eventually finding her way to Key West and opening her own business.
The 29-year-old color guru opened her boutique hair salon, CocoPlum Island Salon, in 2016. Offering cuts and coloring services as well as makeup and facial waxing, CocoPlum Island Salon is by appointment only. The name was a collective idea that Howard and her sister came up with for the space.
Howard’s restless soul and need for adventure are what drew her into opening her own space, as well as her need for security. She brings beauty to an ever-changing world and leaves a piece of herself in her work. It’s evident that Howard loves what she does — you see it in every client who leaves her chair. She’s like the Picasso of the hair world, creating individual masterpieces tailored to each of her clients.
The boutique hair salon is both intimate and cozy, adorned with handmade artwork created by Howard herself. Ceramic pineapples fill the shelves, while the clean color palette leaves you feeling calm and collected. The smell of fresh flowers lingers in the air while the smooth sounds of Norah Jones play in the background.
With two styling chairs and a washing station, the salon is home to Howard and two other stylists, Hillary and Alysa. Both stylists also offer their skills as makeup artists and create looks for bridal hair, in addition to cuts and coloring.
Who would have known working up a sweat and messing up my hair would lead me to arguably the best hair stylist on the island? I met Howard one sunny Key West morning while pounding the pavement at the White Street Pier. We struck up a conversation, leading in me to discover her skills as a stylist.s Once I found out she was a colorist, I had to put her talents to work. You see, after hitting 30, I suddenly developed gray hairs. Yes, I said it — gray hairs! Now don’t getge me wrong, I’m all about ageing gracefully,gr but let’s face it, I’m not about going gray before I’m good and ready. I knew one visit to Howard would help alleviate my problem, so I booked the next available slot and headed to the salon. The salon is in an unsuspecting location on the boulevard, tucked away from chaotic downtown and Duval Street. You can grab a taco next door at Mellow Café and Gastropub while you await your turn in the chair. I mean, how perfect is that? There’s plenty of free parking for your convenience, too.
I sought out Howard one rainy afternoon at her salon in hopes of turning back the clock. I sat in the styling chair looking at my pathetic self in the mirror while she draped a cape around me and began working her magic, mixing and applying the color to my roots. It had been some time since my hair had be given any kind of TLC. This was evident by the protruding grays.
I’m guilty of using dry shampoo any chance I get, and you can forget about me blow drying my hair. I’m an island girl at heart, so I’m all about low maintenance hair that I can just tie up. I have no patience or desire to do my hair all morning long only to step out for 2.5 seconds in this humidity to ruin it. Ladies, I know you can relate.
In typical salon fashion, we talked about the latest trends and fashions. The color was processing and before I knew it, it was time to rinse. Howard gently lathered some Amika cruelty-free shampoo into my scalp, slowly washing away all the sins and then conditioning my long-suffering locks. I was well on my way to bringing sexy back.
After my locks were washed to perfection, Howard went to town on the wet strands, creating a modern yet sophisticated look for me. After a quick consultation about how I wore my hair and the look I craved, she began to work her magic. The result was a clean-cut bob with long layers added to the mix. You couldn’t spot a gray in sight after she was finished; mission accomplished. The dark hues of noir settled in giving me an ageless look.
While she began the process of blow drying, a treat my hair only sees when it goes to the salon once every blue moon, I watched as the beauty began to unfold. I don’t know what it about a good cut and color that will change your life, but I know there is definitely some truth to it. I can recall in the past whenever I was having a breakdown or a going through a breakup, my stylist was my best friend, providing me with comfort and a new outlook on life all by cutting the dead ends off of me.
Howard traveled the country, living in Iowa, Washington and Tampa before making her home in Key West eight years ago. Her original plan for the name CocoPlum came after a thought she and her sister shared about opening a retail space with an attached hair salon in Colorado. Her desire to create a sensed of security and the ability to change people’s lives by making them feel beautiful resulted in her being a girl boss and owning her own business at such a young age.
“CocoPlum Island Salon, in so many ways, is not just my business but it is the very essence of me. I decided to start this business to bring beauty to an ever-changing world,” she says. And Howard is doing exactly that. CocoPlum is at 1601 N. Roosevelt Blvd. Call or text 305-809-6842 to make an appointment. ¦