The New Shoppers' Paradise

The Salon Project’s first outpost inside Saks Fifth Avenue in Hungtington, Long Island rethinks the traditional salon model with consolidated styling spaces and augmented reality. 

The Salon Project at Saks Fifth Avenue

Joel Warren had a plan to reimagine the salon model, but he needed the right partner to make it happen. Enter Saks Fifth Avenue, which opened the doors of its Huntington, Long Island location to the acclaimed colorist and Warren Tricomi co-founder for the first of a series of salons called The Salon Project.

“Times are different and the traditional salon model is no longer efficient,” Warren says. “I wanted to modernize it.” With The Salon Project, Warren is using technology to eliminate some of the payroll—the client checks in and checks out at the chair on an iPad—and he updated the floor plan, installing the sink behind the chair where the client receives all services, from cut to color and even makeup application. As he describes it, “It’s like a mini salon within a salon.” 

Warren also wants to break down barriers between departments, promoting collaboration between stylists, colorists, makeup artists and estheticians. “I’m trying to bring the hair and beauty community together in an environment where we can share and support each other. Plus, the client’s journey has become chaotic—she’s walking from one department to another with a towel around her neck and her hair dripping,” he says. “It’s not luxurious.”

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Though the salon offers traditional services, it employs augmented reality to help with upselling. Clients can “try on” new styles, haircolor and makeup, all of which can be executed right then and there. “I’m empowering the hairdresser to do many things: Control the cost, booking, what’s happening at the chair and retail,” he adds.

As for why he chose Saks as a partner, Warren says it’s a unique relationship. “The level of my work matches who the Saks customer is,” he says. “Saks is a big participant in our growth, and it’s a relationship that’s hard for salons to find today—they’re either in a standalone building, in a mall with other stores that don’t help promote growth, or in a suite where they’re isolated.” Plus, he notes, Saks has locations nationwide, making it easier to build his brand. “It’s challenging today to be the type of salon where a client says, ‘I went to XYZ Salon,’ instead of, ‘I went to see Bobby at what’s-his-name’s salon,” Warren says. “With Saks, I have the ability to make that happen.”

Sally Hershberger at Barneys New York

Sally Hershberger’s newest salon inside Barneys New York.

Sally Hershberger, already with two bustling New York City salons and one in Los Angeles, opened a new location inside Barneys New York just this February, and has already struck gold. “When the partnership was presented to me, it made perfect sense. It’s where I shop, it’s where my clients shop and it has the same sensibility,” she says. “And, it’s really doing incredibly well.” So well that the team is seeing 70 to 100 new clients a month, averaging 12 a day, she says—“a hairdresser’s dream!”

The endeavor was easy-breezy, Hershberger adds, as it was a move into a preexisting salon. “I put my thumbprint on it, so to speak,” she says. After a quick facelift—a fresh coat of white paint, some of her personal art, like a Basquiat, and reupholstering the goldish-colored chairs in black—the salon opened for business within weeks, on Valentine’s Day. “We did it very fast. That’s kind of my nature,” she says.

The space was given Hershberger’s personal touch, decorated with pieces from her art collection.

Other than her rock-star staff, Hershberger credits the newest addition’s success to its location—61st and Madison—and the salon’s and Barneys’ reputations. “Women know the brand,” she says. “It’s like walking into a Prada or Hermès—you know what you’re getting. We’re about hair that moves, hair that’s sexy.”

The salon and Barneys New York retail her 24K haircare line.

So, what lies ahead for the celebrity stylist? “I have a lot of things in the fryer that I can’t discuss yet,” Hershberger says. “But this really is the most exciting thing I’ve done in a while. It’s the only department store that I feel a connection to. It’s Barneys!”