Better Business

SoHo Chic

Timeless meets trendy in Frédéric Fekkai's new salon in SoHo.

Andy Warhol once said that "being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art." Frédéric Fekkai obviously took his message to heart. Already the owner of namesake salons on Fifth Avenue in New York City, Beverly Hill's Rodeo Drive and in tony Palm Beach, FL, the king of Uptown style recently headed Downtown to expand his beauty empire, setting up shop in New York City's fabled SoHo district.

The custom-made sofa and ottomans in the reception area are sleek and refined, but their satin-like fabric is extremely durable and stain-resistant.
The custom-made sofa and ottomans in the reception area are sleek and refined, but their satin-like fabric is extremely durable and stain-resistant.

A stickler for details, Fekkai wanted the space to exude warmth and feature a relaxed, residential ambiance that is modern and sleek. Not surprisingly, his new digs in SoHo do not disappoint. Situated on the second floor of a Victorian-era building, the airy interior boasts a roomy reception area dressed with oversized, satiny seating, four clusters of styling areas that afford maximum comfort, a private shampoo area that comes equipped with LCD screens projecting abstract imagery and six ergonomically designed, reclining shampoo chairs. There's also a bar that features Wi-Fi connection and iPod docking stations, as well as a secluded pedicure studio where divas can sink down in dark-brown banquettes with nickel accents as they dip their toes in freestanding white English butler sinks.

"For my SoHo salon, I was looking to create a different energy—a very relaxed vibe," says Fekkai, who collaborated with renowned architect S. Russell Groves to create a comfortable setting where clients can easily catch up on their work or simply sip wine and socialize. "Here, they can have it all: the chance to experience high-end services in the kind of upscale environment that we've become known for." —KELLEY DONAHUE

Handsome Hideaway


There's hardly a hand in Hollywood that hasn't been buffed and polished by Deborah Lippmann. The manicurist, who's held in high regard in both the Hollywood and fashion worlds, is creative director of the nail spa tucked away inside New York City's Salon A·K·S on Fifth Avenue. Lippmann trained the estheticians on staff in her techniques, and she herself is in the salon monthly, offering manicures and pedicures at a whopping $250. She also created two signature treatments. The Studio treatment, great for the time-pressed, is a waterless, express service inspired by the work she does on photo shoots, while the Star Treatment is a more luxurious affair topped off with two perfect coats of Lippmann Collection nail lacquer. —C.W.

Digital Revolution

Wouldn't it be nice to have your own assistant, someone who could organize your schedule and keep track of appointments? Personal Salon Assistant (PSA) software from SalonTechnologies is the next best thing. Besides getting you organized, it actually formulates haircolor for you; when prompted for specific information, including the product line, percentage of gray and natural and target haircolor, it will calculate the color formula, application and timing. You can purchase a Dell Axim X51 hand-held with the PSA software pre-loaded or download the software from the company's Web site to your own hand-held device that supports Windows Mobile Operating System. —C.W.


The mission of SPACE salon in New York City is to deliver expert service without pretension in a clean, airy atmosphere, which is also the message their business card conveys. "It makes a statement, yet it's simple, pure and modern," says co-owner John Kovacs. The front of the card is spare, with only the logo, in the Skia font, and a swooping silver arc. Contact information is on the back. —L.A.



Bombarded with anywhere from 250 to 3,000 commercial communications every day, consumers are being exposed to massive sensory overload. So how do you cut through the clutter and offer clients a message they can trust? One simple, cost-effective and time-trusted method: word-of-mouth advertising. You just can't buy the authenticity, passion and loyalty your customers project when they tell their friends and family about your business. Here are some ideas for generating buzz:

Host forums and consumer clinics that promote a try-to-buy experience, where customers can connect, try out products and sell to one another.

Create referral programs that motivate clients to tell their network about your services. Offer rewards such as thank-you gifts or complimentary add-on services at their next visit.

Encourage clients to become evangelists by offering extraordinary face-to-face experiences that inspire them to talk about you.

Foster authentic, direct dialog with clients that focuses on your salon's unique points of difference, allowing clients to communicate those points to their friends.

Send e-mails with trials and offers, and encourage people to forward them to their friends. Set up a page and add all of your clients who have their own page as friends.

Sue Remes is an internationally known keynote speaker and consultant. For retail sales, management or education solutions, contact her at [email protected] or call 612/378-9398.



Everyone from Denver socialites to university students to brides-to-be is signing up to attend the VIP parties at salon hot spot Tuana Hair Design. The parties are free to Tuana clients, who can invite about six of their friends for an hour of complimentary Champagne-sipping, fondue-dipping, deep-conditioning treatments and blow-outs. "The parties give women a chance to have fun with their friends or get ready for an evening out," says manager Laura Lokkesmoe. But they also help the salon recruit new clients to its Denver location, which opened in January (a Fort Collins, CO, location opened six years ago). "We encourage clients who live Downtown, or who have friends we know would enjoy the parties, to sign up," says Lokkesmoe. "Then, once we get them into the salon, we are able to show them what we're all about." According to Lokkesmoe, close to 90 percent of the VIP Party guests return to the salon. "It's been so successful, we've decided to offer VIP parties at our Fort Collins location, too, as a way to thank our loyal clients—and hopefully bring in new ones," she says. —C.W.

My Brilliant Career

Newbury Street in Boston is possibly more densely packed with salons and spas than anywhere else in the country—more than 70 of them vie for business along seven short blocks. Still, William George, who owns James Joseph Salon and James Joseph Studio, posted year-end numbers topping $4 million in 2006. So what's his secret? He has a B.A. in art history and psychology from Tufts University and has worked in photography, real estate and interior design. "As an artist with a degree in psychology, I'm uniquely qualified to manage creative people," says George. "I initially decided to train as a stylist so I could understand my employees' perspective, but now I let my stylists be the stars instead." George also treats every member of his staff as a valuable resource. "I solicit their ideas and opinions before making any major decisions, which creates loyalty," he says. "In an industry notorious for turnover, we rarely lose staff." —M.D.



The popularity of massage continues to grow, according to research by Harsted Strategic Research, which shows that 33.6 million, or one in six, American adults 21 and older received at least one massage in 2006, up 12 percent from nearly 9 million in 2004. Interestingly, the research found that women are more likely than men—36 percent compared to 22 percent—to have received their most recent massage in a salon or spa setting. —C.W.


Fashion and beauty are image-driven industries, and images can drive your business as well. "An annual investment in professional photography will always pay off," says Larry Oskin, president of Fairfax, VA-based Marketing Solutions. "It's extremely important to brand your salon with visual images that are representative of your best hair, skin and nail services." Indeed, using your own professional photography for your Web site, advertising, salon posters and media-relations efforts shows a level of professionalism and success that will drive attention and clients to your business. Here, Oskin provides a few tips for getting it right:

Make sure the images you create are representative of looks your clients desire. For instance, don't create punk looks if your clients are drawn to more conservative styles.

Hire only professional photographers. Always ask to see their portfolio first. It's best to use photographers who are experienced with hair and beauty, not portraits or fashion because they can have very different outcomes and you want the emphasis in the picture to be on the hair.

Use only professional models. Call the modeling agencies in your area and set up a casting so you can look at their books and select the models beforehand. The quality of the model will mean the difference between pictures that look professional and those that scream amateur.

Our Town

Where do San Diego's surfers, office workers and soccer moms go to get their hair cut and styled? Nicole Palmieri found four salons that keep them all looking good.

1. Jet Rhys

Former Vidal Sassoon specialists, Jet Rhys and her husband, who goes by the name Rhys, require their stylists at Jet Rhys Salon to go through an apprenticeship program and choose a specialization, and they expect incredible customer service. At the salon's monthly BYOB: Bring Your Own Blow Dryer event, stylists show clients how to use their own hair tools and products to recreate the hairstyle they got at the salon. "At the BYOB event, clients do everything themselves while stylists give them tips and techniques on how to use the products, how to handle the blow dryer, and how to create different styles," says Jet.

Urban hair is the salon's specialty, thus attracting a wide variety of clients, from band members to corporate climbers to surfing divas. The ultra-modern décor of the salon makes it a fun place to go. Says Jet, "When the clients lean their heads back at the shampoo sinks, they look up and see a TV screen on the ceiling that plays runway fashion videos."

In stock: Davines, Bumble and bumble

2. A Robert Cromeans Salon

As owner of five namesake salons and artistic director for John Paul Mitchell Systems, Robert Cromeans is an icon in the salon industry. His flagship salon in Downtown San Diego offers a unique Color Bar where all color is processed, and a relaxing "Washhouse" where clients can choose from a full menu of Paul Mitchell shampoos.

Training and education are very important to the Paul Mitchell-exclusive salon. All stylists are required to go through an intensive training program to learn and to build their clientele before they can work at the flagship location. Sue Passman, salon director for ARCS San Diego, thinks being a Paul Mitchell-exclusive salon is great because "it's easy to truly believe in the brand."

In stock: Paul Mitchell

3. Collections Salon and Day Spa

"It's not about where they've been, but where they're going," says Richard Ouellette, co-owner of Collections Salon and Day Spa and inventor of the HAIelite styling tools, of the salon's stylists. "We are able to train many stylists right out of school and allow them to grow in different fields, whether it's color, artistic expression or management."

Ouellette co-owns the salon with his wife, Connie. They encourage their stylists to get the best education and training possible in order to stay fresh and able to offer their high-end clients top-notch service and styles. "We offer our staff plenty of growth opportunities here," says Connie. The salon participates in fashion shows in the mall where it's located, giving stylists the chance to do the models' hair. The salon also contributes to the community by donating products to raise money for juvenile diabetes and breast cancer and providing hair to the Locks of Love organization.

In stock: Bumble and bumble, Aveda, Goldwell, Dermalogica

4. Travis Parker Salon

Travis Parker strives for consistency across his Travis Parker Salon brand, which he plans to expand in the near future. When his San Diego salon opened its doors four years ago, Parker committed himself to hiring stylists who would stay true to the brand and maintain a certain level of luxury, culture and service. The salon attracts a range of clients, mostly high-end, who want a fashion-forward hairstyle and who appreciate the décor, which features plasma screens playing runway shows.

Four times a year, Parker hosts an art exhibition where he displays artwork from a handpicked artist. In July, the salon participated in an art benefit hosted by the nonprofit Sister Schools of San Diego, which raised $15,000 to help construct a school in Nepal.

In stock: Kérastase, L'Oréal Professional's Textureline

Big Fish, Small Pond

In every small town across America, there's at least one salon that raises the bar for everyone else. Waitsfield, VT, (population 1,659) has Siren Salon.

Nestled between the Green Mountains and the Roxbury Range in Central Vermont's Mad River Valley, the small community of Waitsfield, VT, draws outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy hitting the slopes at nearby Mad River Glen or Sugarbush ski areas, canoeing on the Mad River or trekking part of the Long Trail, the nation's oldest long-distance hiking trail. Many of Waitsfield's residents are transplants from cities like Boston or New York City, eager to trade their hectic schedules for the town's relaxed lifestyle. But when these urban-minded professionals crave a dose of big-city pampering, they head straight to Siren Salon for stylish cuts, color, waxing, manicures and pedicures.

"Waitsfield may be a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, but many of my clients are international travelers who are really hip to the fashion scene," says Siren Salon's owner, Rachael Young. "They have big expectations."

Young says she specializes in dimensional color and razor cutting, and the wedding business is big for the salon year round. She takes classes regularly to keep her skills fresh and travels often, picking up on global trends. To satisfy her health-conscious clients, Young stocks products with natural ingredients, and plans to add a line of Brazilian yoga wear this season.

Young says she never planned to own a salon, but after working for several years at a local spa, she decided that it was time to put her creative ideas into a business of her own. She opened Siren Salon in 2005, in what used to be "the wildest dive bar in town," with just four chairs, but a big fan club.

"I was lucky," she says. "I already had a loyal following. There are a lot of other salons in town, but none of them are offering what I am. I'm really concerned with maintaining the integrity of the hair and also with the artistic aspect of the business."

Most of all, Young enjoys the satisfaction she gets when clients leave looking and feeling good. "My clientele come back and say, 'Rachael, you wouldn't believe how much prettier I feel,'" she says. "They tell me it's transformed their love life, their home life, even the way their husbands are looking at them. It's exciting to be involved that way in someone's life." —LOTUS ABRAMS

In stock: Goldwell haircolor, PureOlogy, Eufora