Better Business: Basics to Building a Brand by House of POp

Pop Culture

The Factory was Andy Warhol’s famous New York City studio that served as the epicenter for experimentation of all kinds, producing his cult-status silk screens, paintings and films. It was the hip hangout that hosted artists and musicians, celebrities and socialites, fashion mavens, drug addicts, drag queens, adult film entertainers and more. Douglas McCoy is attempting to channel Factory magic and reinvent that nonstop atmosphere of creativity in Spokane, WA. “The House of POp is a salon first and foremost,” says McCoy. “But it’s also a production studio, a film and photo studio—we shoot all our work in-house. We’re also an education center. Basically, House of POp is a bunch of different things all in one location.”

The Philosophy

“It’s a simplification of hairdressing,” says McCoy. Over the years, he found that salons had become too big and that many of them had transformed into over-glorified retail centers. He thought the art of hairdressing had become lost, as had the level of service. Streamlining the menu of services solely to include cuts, color and blowouts allows his team to reclaim the art of hairdressing and focus on honing their craft without having to multitask. In doing so, it affords them the ability to dedicate time to consultations and walking the client through the steps as well as teaching them how to achieve the look on their own. “The number-one complaint from every client is that they can’t do their hair the way their hairdresser does,” says McCoy. “I’ve always felt that if my client can’t do their hair the way I do it, then I’ve failed. So we spend a lot of time educating the clients on how to style their hair and all the different ways to do it. They usually get at least three looks while they’re in the chair. It’s important to us that the clients that come in get that level of service.” ‘Your look hand crafted’ is the salon’s running tagline for a reason.

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 The Backstory

Originally, he opened the eight-chair, seven-hairstylist salon with the intention of using it as a workspace where he and his fellow hair friends could work and hang out while experimenting and practicing new things. He wanted to create a Warhol-ian environment where hairdressers, photographers, makeup artists, models and wardrobe stylists could collaborate in a creative home. Having spent 15 years affiliated with Bumble and bumble, McCoy began with the brand at an exciting time, witnessing the company’s product line from its early stages of development to national rollout to acquisition by Estée Lauder. “I knew everybody and they knew me, and I loved the brand,” says McCoy. “I loved the people, and when the buyout happened, that kind of went away because everybody left. All my friends went off and did different things and joined different companies and I found myself alone.” Opening up his own salon was a step toward recapturing that collaborative and collective environment in which he had deeply invested in and was influenced by. As he was once told, the only reason to start a salon is if the one you want doesn’t exist.

 BUILDING A BRAND

Though the salon just opened six months ago, the House of POp brand launched approximately five years ago and has grown through McCoy’s photography and films documenting the creative process of hairstyling. Influenced by Howard McLaren, whom he met during his Bumble and bumble days, McCoy created an inspirational and aspirational body of work characterized by the vintage, celluloid feel of old photos and videos. This lived-in look has carried over into the salon where he continues to produce photos in collaboration with his in-house photographer (who also happens to manage the salon’s front desk) to further the brand’s artistic identity. “One thing I tell salon owners all the time is ‘Once you have your brand, never go off brand. Stick to your guns,’” says McCoy. This very principle helped guide him in the decision to use and carry R+Co as the exclusive product line of the salon. Despite his deep loyalty to McLaren, co-founder of R+Co, McCoy had to make sure that the philosophy behind the products and the collective aligned with his brand. “When Howard sent me the products and photos of the packaging, it was as if someone had given House of POp 10 million dollars to do a product line," says McCoy. "If I were to do a product line, it’s exactly what I would’ve done.”

In rounding out the salon staff, working philosophy and overall aesthetic, McCoy has created a center for the avant-garde in all mediums. “We are a place that people feel they can come into, with or without an appointment, to soak up the atmosphere and listen to good music and watch films on the projector and just be inspired,” says McCoy. “We’re our own brand and we’re our own lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle salon. You walk in and you know that you're in someplace different. And that’s what I wanted. At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun.” —Maureen Sheen

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