Connecting with her guests and employees is always blissful for Alexis Reitmeyer, a local entrepreneur, makeup artist and owner of Coronado Bliss Salon. But not too long ago, you were more likely to find Reitmeyer connecting with books at the school library, studying for a political science major at Point Loma Nazarene University.
“I was the nerd in the dorm room who wanted to do makeup,” laughs Reitmeyer, who graduated in 2008. “I was always studying, so everyone was surprised when I would whip out my makeup kit and help my friends get ready for a big event.”
Reitmeyer says she’s always been attracted to the beauty business, but it seemed at odds with her desire to pursue a professional career in law. As a young college graduate, on the cusp of applying to law school, which side would win out, business or beauty?
Turns out, she could have both.
Her mom, already a seasoned entrepreneur and successful small business owner herself, approached Reitmeyer with the opportunity to partner in opening a salon in Coronado. It was an offer she couldn’t refuse. In 2011, Coronado Bliss, located at 930 Orange Avenue, opened its doors.
Soon she knew she made the right choice.
“I was young and I was nervous, but I was excited,” says Reitmeyer. “A couple years in, we were getting established. Our books were full and I was really starting to see the community respond to our business in a positive way.”
Coronado Bliss is now celebrating a decade of successful business in Coronado. The full-service salon offers everything from haircut, hair color, extensions and styling, to facials, makeup and waxing, as well as massage. The business is an Aveda Lifestyle Salon, which is the highest level of partnership Aveda offers. Aveda, which is known for its high-performing, nature-driven, vegan products, helps Bliss further its mission to care for the environment, according to Reitmeyer.
In fact, nature is where Reitmeyer says she garners much of her makeup inspiration.
“The colors of San Diego and our beautiful sunsets inspire me as a makeup artist,” says Reitmeyer. “You can just go look at the sand going into the sea, going into the sky, and I think, this would be a cool makeup palette. The colors all complement each other.”
Working with Aveda also allowed Reitmeyer to experience one of the hallmarks of her career: working as a makeup artist at New York Fashion Week. In 2013, Reitmeyer styled runway models backstage before they walked the catwalk.
“It’s totally fast-paced and crazy,” she says. “It’s nuts, but you have to be timely. You could have a model that you’re not finished with, that needs to be on the catwalk in two minutes, and you gotta hustle out those lashes.”
Reitmeyer says Coronado Bliss continued to thrive, thanks to, in part, its strong relationship with the community, employees and guests. (It’s the secret sauce in a beauty business that goes more than skin deep.) In fact, Reitmeyer says she spends marketing dollars—that would otherwise be spent on advertising—on donations to local organizations.
“We are blessed to be able to support the community, because the community comes back to support us,” says Reitmeyer. “If we didn’t have that community support, we wouldn’t be able to give back, so it comes full circle.”
Then came COVID.
“It was really difficult,” sighs Reitmeyer. “As you know, salons got hit the hardest, along with gyms. But all small businesses suffered.”
She says the challenges that come along with small businesses—such as management and staffing—became amplified when COVID hit, as new troubles presented themselves. Reitmeyer was able to secure a first COVID relief loan, but was not able to get the second. Ultimately, the loyalty of her employees helped her sustain her business.
“I was so lucky to have such a great team because I retained most of my staff through COVID,” says Reitmeyer. “They show up and support me, like I support them.”
With COVID, more than ever, she says that it’s important for her—as a business owner—to show up 100%, every single day.
“It’s not only your livelihood but the livelihood of your employees,” she explains. “You are steering a big ship for everyone’s success.”
When asked if she feels safe in saying that her business survived COVID, Reitmeyer smiles and looks down, a moment of pensive delight.
“Yes, absolutely,” she says. “This summer was the best ever.”
This fall marks another opportunity for Coronado Bliss to give back. For the first time ever, Reitmeyer is co-chairing the Coronado Schools Foundation Gala with Donna Salof, which takes place on October 23rd. Reitmeyer says she’s excited to chair the “Back to Prom” themed event and celebrate with other members of the community.
“CSF has been a great organization to partner with through the years,” says Reitmeyer. “I’ve gone to every CSF auction since they started. It’s one of the best events of the season.”
Coronado Bliss is busy booking appointments to help locals get prom-ready, including hair, makeup, skin treatments and massage. Prom-goers are encouraged to call 619-435-9294 to schedule beauty treatments.
When it comes current beauty trends, Reitmeyer says she loves seeing curly-haired clients embrace their natural waves, as well as the ever-popular vibrant pops of bright color showing up in hair from grade school kids to senior citizens. Pinks, turquoise, oranges and purples are popular colors now, says Reitmeyer.
But she’s quick to issue a warning to young social media-surfers who are increasingly bombarded with images of polished, perfected beauty like those seen on Instagram.
“Beauty is on the inside,” Reitmeyer says without hesitation. “What we see on Instagram is all fake; they are photoshopped and retouched. And the definition of beauty is always going to change. We need to focus on the person on the inside, being caring and loving. That’s what’s going to make you shine.”
When asked what she’s most proud of, Reitmeyer says it’s the relationships she’s cultivated with guests, clients, and the community. This includes the military: both the military guests she serves, as well as the ones she employs. In fact, Coronado Bliss was recently named a Department of Defense Employer of the Year, according to Reitmeyer.
When she’s not working, you’ll find Reitmeyer enjoying a sunset from the sundeck at the Hotel Del, or at home, with her boyfriend—a trainer at Sweat Circuit—and their bulldog puppy.
“Whenever I can, I like to slow down and watch a sunset. It’s my time to calm down and reset, and helps me find so much peace,” says Reitmeyer. “Coronado is paradise.”
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