In the middle of London's eclectic Soho neighborhood, you'll find SALON64, a new-era beauty establishment that's flipping the traditional salon business model on its head. Ricky Walters, SALON64's creative director, noticed that while hair trends constantly evolve, salon models remain rather stagnant. "Most salons were not living up to demands of the modern-day client—phone chargers, seating for friends, and so on—and something had to be done to bring them back to life," Walters says.
Designed to cater to that modern-day client, SALON64 came to fruition in late 2017 and redefined the salon experience. Inside, guests are welcomed into a social hub of sorts where personalized drinks are brewed up by a mixologist. You don't need a hair appointment to enjoy a cocktail—SALON64's bar is open to the public, and Walters says Soho locals often stroll into the nondescript building out of curiosity and end up staying for a drink.
Beyond the Instagram-worthy cocktails, guests who have a hair appointment are led to a seat around an expansive fire pit. Though at first glance the area looks like a simple bar top, each work station pops open to reveal a mirror, multiple charging ports for electronic devices and even drink holders. "Our space enables us to meet clients' every need. Don't fancy looking at yourself or want to catch up with friends? The mirror can stay down," Walters says. "Fancy your own personal space? Mirror up." Clients can also control the lighting over their respective seat and stow away handbags and belongings in a designated drawer by their feet to protect from hair clippings or an accidental color spill.
Rather than looking to other salons and beauty brands for inspiration, Walters takes note from members-only clubs, five-star resorts and large luxury retail brands to shape the customers' experience. "Giving the clients as much choice as possible and catering each experience to their individual needs means that each service can be slightly different from the last," he says. "Every part of the journey has been thoroughly thought out, from the made-to-order cocktails to the coffee that's specially roasted and continually tweaked based on clients' feedback."
Through his experience catering directly to the client, Walters has learned an invaluable piece of advice: "If you don't listen to your customers, someone else will," he says. "No matter how much you dress it up, the paying customer is at the heart of it all, and every decision, no matter how big or small, should be dictated by their needs."