Hairstylist and salon owner Lois Christie is giving new meaning to the term "full-service," particularly as it refers to salons. At her 8,000-square-foot salon and spa, Christie & Co., in Bayside, NY, Christie is not only making her clients beautiful on the outside, she's also offering monthly seminars designed to help enrich all aspects of their lives.
Like Bayside's very own version of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the series, called "Mindful Mondays," provides women with free advice and information on everything from finances to sex. "No matter what we do for a client's hair and face, her other problems will still be there after the service is over," Christie says. "So I started the series to take the salon to the next level of customer service and also help clients fulfill their dreams of a happy life and a successful career."
From left: Christie with Good Housekeeping's Toni Gerber Hope; "Healthy Sexuality At Any Age" was the most well-attended seminar to date; sex therapist Barbara Bartlik, M.D.
For Christie, who grew up in Bayside and opened her salon 35 years ago with a $1,500 loan she received from an uncle, the series seemed like a fitting way to set the salon apart while giving something back to the community. The seminars are open to everyone—not just clients—and Christie runs advertisements in the local newspaper and sends invitations to women's organizations, such as a local battered women's shelter. "Being a hairdresser is so much more than just hair and makeup," says Christie, who is also the first female vice president of Intercoiffure America/Canada. "Our clients come to us for advice on everything from divorce lawyers to what movie they should see, and they entrust us with a lot of personal information. So not only do we have to know about what's current in fashion, hair and makeup but also about business and lifestyle trends. We have to keep up with what's happening in the world and share what we know with our clients. That's the impetus for the series."
To date, seminar topics and guest lecturers have included: "How to Enjoy a 24/7 Healthy Lifestyle," by Good Housekeeping's health editor; "Make Beauty Work for You," by a leading makeup artist; "Money Management," by Christie's own trusted financial planners; and standing-room only "Healthy Sexuality at Any Age," by a board-certified sex therapist.
Although men are welcome to attend, Christie started "Mindful Mondays" with women in mind, since 90 percent of the salon's clients are female. She hosts the event in the salon's spacious reception area—the retail shelves are pushed out of the way to make room for dozens of banquet chairs—but attendance is growing so quickly that Christie says she will soon have to move the seminars to a larger location.
While staff attendance is optional, Christie says most of her stylists attend the events and feel proud knowing they are helping in such a positive way. And because the series helps boost client loyalty, it's not bad for the bottom line, either. "I wanted to make my salon a prototype of what I feel salons should provide and could provide for their clients on a worldwide basis," Christie says. "If we are really going to be trusted and call ourselves professionals, then we have to step up to the plate and say, 'What else can I do for you?'".