Zipping along in the bustling traffic south of Market, heading east on Bryant, the immense Bay Bridge looms ahead straight, threatening to eclipse the brilliant sunlight of a perfect San Francisco day. If you lost your concentration for a moment, you might easily miss the discreet white building, its American flag proudly flying in front, looking like an international embassy tucked in among the busy local merchants. As you turn into the private garage, a discreet brass plaque confirms that you've reached your destination. Stepping inside, you ascend a marbleized trompe-l' oeil stairway, passing striking modern artworks until you arrive in a breathtakingly elegant reception area. White birch panels framed with custom brush steel channels surround the lobby's latticed granite floors, and "Architectural Digest"- quality furnishings. You would be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped into an art director's studio rather than a hair salon. In fact, you have arrived at the artistic center of Hansen Fontana, The National Hair Journal's Salon of the Year.

Established in 1960, Hansen Fontana is a unique facility. It is owned and operated by Kim and Tom Norman and was one of the first salons in the country to offer hair addition products. The business has grown and prospered over the years by offering the highest quality hair replacement products and by pioneering new hair care services. Kim learned the art of hair replacement at a very early age and continues to attend hair shows and workshops around the country. A strong believer in technical know-how and self-sufficiency, Kim could actually conceive, design and construct a complete hair system on the premises in an emergency. The client service area rivals a hospital operating room, with highly polished floors and state of the art equipment. Adjoining the service area is a full galley kitchen, with refreshments for the staff and clients and special Korean delicacies selected by Kim to delight her clients.

Customers of Hansen Fontana are treated royally. Each of the four spacious styling rooms, complete with hidden, rolling sinks, is bathed with sunlight from large, third story windows or from a vast overhead skylight. The rooms are decorated with one-of- kind; hand painted walls, featuring tropical plants, flowers, animals or billowing clouds. Each is equipped with a TV/VCR combo, connected to a satellite dish. First time clients are received in one of the two elegant consultation rooms where the Normans offer a 'preview' of hairstyles and textures using the latest Mirror Image® system. Tom and Kim believe in having the best products and services - and do not hesitate to charge accordingly. "We've found that the 'bargain-hunting' client is usually the most demanding and unrealistic." "We encourage 'shoppers' to look around," Tom says. "If quality is what they really want, they'll be back sooner or later."

Hansen Fontana seeks out technically advanced hair products. The company has had great success with the Cyberhair® program, and presently offers International Hair Good's Micro-Point Link® service, as well as the full-skin bonding systems. The company has an aggressive marketing program based on widespread PR exposure together with a sophisticated TV and print exposure campaign. Frequent guest appearances by Tom and Kim on local media have brought a growing number of educated prospects to the company's door. Many new Hansen Fontana customers are simply looking for a more professional service environment for their existing hair systems.

Over the years, the Normans have learned that men and women with hair loss problems want more information about all their hair replacement and restoration options. This realization led the Normans to become affiliated with one of the nation's leading surgical groups, Medical Hair Restoration. They visited MHR surgical offices, watched surgery being performed, and interviewed patients and the surgeons, before deciding the company would be the right fit. "Having all hair replacement in one location means a more efficient use of our marketing dollar and assures a customer that he or she need go no further than the comfortable environment Kim and I have tried to create here at Hansen Fontana," says Tom.

From the pleasant chime that announces a visitor to Hansen Fontana, to the strategically placed cameras that watch over him or her at the entrance and in the building's private parking garage, clients can rest assured their experience with this unique studio will be pleasant, professional and safe! The Journal commends Kim and Thomas Norman on a beautiful, efficient and successful business in the heart of San Francisco and congratulates everyone at Hansen Fontana on being The National Hair Journal Salon of the Year!