May 7, 2007

From Bliss to Uptown - local business owner sees name change as a positive experience

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

If it’s really all in the name, Becky Halvorson from the newly-named Uptown Blu Salonspa and Tanning should know.

After receiving a letter last fall telling her she was being forced to change her name to something other than Bliss Total Spa and Tanning, the Delano business owner wasn’t sure what she should do.

With the letter that initially gave her seven days to get rid of everything “Bliss,” Halvorson sought out the advice of an attorney, and was able to negotiate a six-month timeframe to change the name of her business.

Halvorson received the letter because a salon in New York has a federal trademark on the Bliss name. She had a state registration on the name, but said federal trademarks are costly.

The salon in New York was purchased by Las Vegas developer Steve Wynn, who has been putting Bliss Spas in high-end hotels he owns.

Initially, Halvorson said there were only Bliss Spas in New York and the United Kingdom, so she wasn’t too concerned. But when it was realized a Bliss would be coming to the metro area, she received the letter.

“They’re protecting their best interests,” Halvorson said. “I can’t fault them for that.”

With the dilemma of a name change in front of her, Halvorson said she had several roads she could have gone down, including simply locking the doors, or selling the business. She decided to take the high road, and move on to the next chapter in her career – Uptown Blu Salonspa and Tanning.

“God only gives me what I can handle,” she said. “This is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.”

And reinvent she did. Halvorson said she was more nervous Tuesday evening at the unveiling of the new name than she was five years ago, when she first opened her salon.

Another part of the reinvention process came when Halvorson and several of her employees were in Chicago for a trade show in early March.

She went with the hope of coming up with a new name. There were some inspirational messages presented at the show, including how the beauty industry is focusing on the fact that no other job lets people make people feel better about themselves every day, Halvorson said.

“We left there feeling wonderful,” Halvorson said, adding that she wanted a name that would reflect the feeling they had, and that would incorporate making people feel good about themselves. That is where the Blu comes in – Blu stands for “Be, Live, Unite,” Halvorson said.

She did some checking into names with Blu, when she found out her first choice, Studio Blu, was already taken. She had a client she was talking to about the name change, and the client asked Halvorson what makes her different than other salons.

Halvorson responded that her salon isn’t a “sleepy” environment, but rather one that allows people to come into a high energy group, and forget about their spouses, bills, the kids, the dog, the job, and all of that, and just allows them to relax.

She said the salon was also designed with a feel of something that would be found in the Minnetonka area, so with that, Uptown Blu was born.

She said she checked to make sure she could obtain the domain name for it, and it all worked.

“It has all fallen into place,” she said. “It feels right.”

Halvorson said she loved being Bliss, but said her new name is more reflective of the services and atmosphere she offers her clients.

She said along with some remodeling work inside the salon, she has also added another product line called Thermafuse, which is a hair care product designed to work with the heat of blow dryers.

Overall, while the whole name change process has meant some headaches and long nights, Halvorson said it has helped her grow as a person, and to learn to be open-minded when things like this happen.

“It’s a positive thing,” she said. “I’m really excited about it.”

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