In every small town across America, there’s at least one salon that raises the bar for everyone else. Nazareth, PA (population 5,706) has 101 E. Center Salon.
Patrick McIvor, artistic and TechniCulture director for Goldwell and KMS California, had a thriving career in New York City, but in 2002 he gave it all up to relocate to Bethlehem, PA, which is about a two-hour drive from Manhattan. “I realized that you can live anywhere and be fabulous, and I wanted to prove that,” says McIvor, who grew tired of renting space (he’s had salons in two different locations in the past 12 years) and decided to renovate a three-story house in nearby Nazareth—the first floor (1,186 square feet) houses a salon, while he lives with his wife and daughters on the second and third floors.
The house, which was built in 1857, had been owned first by a family that ran a distillery and then by a doctor, who kept an office on the first floor and lived with his family upstairs. When McIvor took a tour of the place, he said it was like going back in time. Ultimately he decided to retain some of the character and kept the gray cabinets where the doctor used to dispense pills. Today he uses those cabinets to dispense teas and coffees instead.
The entire salon experience is built around the five senses. The only colored wall in the salon is behind the shampoo bowls. “Red excites people,” he says. “Besides, it’s the only area in the salon where clients aren’t judging their looks in the mirror.” McIvor also realizes how crucial the right flow of sound is to the salon business so he changes the music frequently. To keep unpleasant odors to a minimum, he uses ammonia-free haircolor from Goldwell, while the scent of fresh herbs grown on the front porch filters into the salon.
Bio Ionic dryers hang from cords in the ceiling over four styling chairs, providing easy access and eliminating a tangle of wires at each station. McIvor also decided to put shampoos and conditioners in a warm tub of water that sits on top of a radiator to make the shampoo process as pleasant as possible.
To take the whole experience one step further, McIvor connected a 3-D camera to an iPad, which projects photos of each client’s hair onto a flat-screen TV. “When we do our own hair, we only see it in 2-D: in the mirror or in a photo. Giving a 3-D visual helps clients understand why they need more dimension or height,” says McIvor, who also takes “before” photos of every client and a photo of the product he’ll use to create the look they want. “Before I apply anything, they can see what it’s going to look like on the flat-screen TV with an app called Noteshelf.”
What’s more, McIvor and his wife use social media for more than just posting photos. “I’m learning more about Snapchat these days,” says McIvor, who thinks that it’s a platform that will become just as important for them as others, like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. “The secret to social media is that you don’t have to be right, you just have to participate.” He’s already planning to hide beauty baskets around town, use Snapchat to take photos of them, and provide the coordinates so clients can go on a treasure hunt in their own community. ✂ —Desiree Cole