Rona Kern O’Connor ’78

What’s it like to be one of the hottest hair colorists in Hollywood?

Rona O’Connor, aka Rona Kern O’Connor ‘78, co-owner of Lukaro Salon in Beverly Hills, CA knows all about it. Rona and her husband, Luke, opened their hair salon doors in 1992 and haven’t looked back since. Early in her hair coloring career, Rona made her mark developing her own color technique “The Quik Base,” her most popular blonding technique. Her artistry attracted the attention of A-list celebrities. Her first was Brooke Shields’ sunkissed brunette color followed by Debra Messing for whom Rona created the iconic red for her role in “Will and Grace.” These two stars helped launch Rona’s career solidly into the celebrity circles. Debra Messing and Brooke Shields are still Rona’s clients and she has gone on to create signature hair colors for many super stars including, Blake Lively’s “Gossip Girl “ blonde to “The Green Lantern” and “Savages” and her red in “Hick”; Laura Prepon’s blonde in “That 70’s Show” and her current blackened brunette for “Orange is the New Black”; Bella Thorne in “Shake it Up” and in ”Date”; Heidi Klum’s current blonde; Avril Lavigne’s pink to her current blonde; and Keira Knightly’s color in “Pirates of the Caribbean”. In a fast moving world and throw away society, Rona is known for her ability to build long term relationships with her clients, earning their respect and trust. Rona’s reputation from LA to NY as a celebrity color expert gained her a segment on CNN’s “Road Warriors” where she gave beauty travel tips to millions. She has also appeared on numerous makeover shows and daytime news shows. Rona and her work have been featured in copious fashion magazines. She currently serves on the advisory board of Shape magazine and was the U.S. color judge for Goldwell’s Global Color Zoom Challenge in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Rona is now Goldwell’s first national spokesperson, a coveted role in the hair and fashion world.

Rona is an artist, using hair as her canvas, as well as a successful businesswoman. When asked what she loves most about her career and business Rona said this, “I’m not a 9 to 5-er; I love the independence that owning my own business gives me and my freedom for creativity. My staff and long-term clients are like family, and our studio has a very home-like feel. I learned how to forge those kinds of relationships at WMS, and I find that I greatly value them in my work life today. And, finally, working with people’s hair feeds my passion. I love the artistry and creativity of hair color and I love helping people express their own individual beauty.”

Having a family, running a business, working in her salon as a color specialist, travelling to NYC every 5 weeks to work with select clients, and providing on-set hair color services for some of her movie clients certainly keeps Rona busy. Somehow Rona still finds time to pursue her passions in photography, furniture design (Rona designed the furniture in the Beverly Hills studio herself), and remodeling homes. She has practiced yoga since she was 7 years old. Yoga, lake kayaking and hiking in the mountains just outside her front door keep Rona strong, centered and connected with nature.

It’s not hard for Rona to trace her current life and work to her time at The White Mountain School. Rona muses, “I can easily trace three major components of my life today back to The White Mountain School. First, WMS grounded me in the natural world; nature has always played a central role in my life and continues to inspire my personal and professional worlds. Also, at WMS I built friendships that will last a lifetime. When WMS grads get together it’s like a family reunion. We know each other well. Deep connections continue to add profound meaning to life and work. And, finally, WMS helped me develop the confidence I needed to strike out on my own — build my own business and follow the inner voice to pursue my passion for creating beautiful, standout hair color instead of the ‘safer’ career path of nursing that I pursued in college. Finally, the small classes and close relationships with teachers made it so I couldn’t hide in the back. I developed confidence in myself and my abilities because I had to. Blending into the woodwork wasn’t an option at WMS! I still remember a pivotal moment when Bob Whitten, my history teacher, took me under his wing. We had to give a speech in class and I was terrified. So terrified that I went to the infirmary before class, claiming to be sick. Mr. Whitten called the infirmary and asked to speak to me. When I told him I was too sick to deliver my speech to the class, he assured me that the class would wait for my speech until I felt better. I was trapped! Hearing the catch in my voice, Mr. Whitten gently asked if I would like to practice my speech first in front of him alone. Later that day, he worked one-on-one with me for hours until I was comfortable, giving me helpful public speaking pointers. And now, as Goldwell’s national spokesperson, I gave a speech in front of thousands of people! At the Nokia Arena I thought I would faint, but I got it done. I thank Mr. Whitten every time I do something like that.” What a classic White Mountain student-teacher story!

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