Less is More

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When Denver salon owners Charlie Price, Cameron Letterman and Kelly Anolin merged their salon with some business associates, the arrangement seemed like a good idea. As artistic directors of the new salon, Price and Letterman were supposedly going to have more time to devote to fashion shows and photo shoots. However, their workload only intensified after the merger, and Price knew it was time for a change. The trio dissolved the partnership and set about opening a smaller salon with longtime colleague Joy Dyk.

Fortunately, the merger ended amicably and they retained their clients, but they needed to find a location to set up shop—within only three months' time. Price says they wanted the new place to be more intimate than their original salon, so they narrowed the search to smaller spaces, eventually choosing a former salon tucked away in the basement of an upscale shopping area. "I knew we were on the right track when I got a business magazine in the mail and it said on the cover, 'Small is the new big,'" he says.

Since the space already met the city's plumbing and electrical requirements, the group could pour their money into renovations. The end result is simple, clean and beautiful: The floor is raw, warehouse brick, the ceilings and walls are painted white, and countless brushed-silver track lights illuminate polished marble tiles.

In all, the group spent a mere $70,000 to get the new salon up and running. They kept costs low by getting creative—leasing stations instead of buying them, for instance. "You don't need to spend money on the bells and whistles," Price explains. "You should focus on what's going to get you through the long haul and bring in revenue, and that's not based on whether you have European shampoo bowls."

The new place, named Click Salon, also features a smaller staff: three full-time stylists, two assistants, one receptionist, and two part-time employees. Even the training of stylists has a more scaled-back approach—Price, Letterman and Dyk focus on building one stylist at a time. "I have this theory that one problem with our old salon was that no one stylist was getting enough attention," Price says. "Now, we are able to really mentor and care for one person at a time."

Since its soft opening in December, business has been brisk: there are typically 45 appointments each day, and with the more intimate atmosphere, stylists can really focus on customer service. "We're able to be more gracious," Price says. "We're trying to do more to let clients know we care about them. We're more relationship-driven.

"Don't believe the hype that you have to have a super-big salon," he adds. "It's better to go smaller now than to get in over your head and have an ulcer later."