Better Business


Guys and Dolls


Men and women receive equal treatment at San Francisco's new Barber Lounge salon and spa.

South of Downtown in San Francisco's burgeoning SoMa neighborhood, a hip, new salon and spa called the Barber Lounge is attracting a loyal following of men and women with its stylish décor and services that cater to both sexes.

 The waiting area was designed to look like a living room. "I wanted it to feel like you're coming to someone's  apartment to get your hair done," says owner Greg Griffin.
The waiting area was designed to look like a living room. "I wanted it to feel like you're coming to someone's apartment to get your hair done," says owner Greg Griffin.

"In my experience in the industry, I've noticed that women want their husbands and boyfriends to get nice haircuts, but men don't necessarily want to pay stylist prices," says the Barber Lounge's owner Greg Griffin, "so I decided to put a barbershop within a salon and spa so that men and women would feel comfortable coming here together."

In the Barber Lounge's retro barbershop area, guys are treated to straight-edge shaves and dry cuts in vintage chairs from the 1950s.
In the Barber Lounge's retro barbershop area, guys are treated to straight-edge shaves and dry cuts in vintage chairs from the 1950s.

The Barber Lounge opened in January, offering a Dry Cut, Hot Towel Shave and other men's grooming services in a vintage-looking barbershop area with chairs from the 1950s and a checkerboard-patterned floor. In addition, the salon offers stylist cuts, haircolor, manicures and pedicures, makeup application and spa treatments.

The "Wall of Hair Icons" highlights celebrities and historical personalities whose haircuts have influenced style trends
The "Wall of Hair Icons" highlights celebrities and historical personalities whose haircuts have influenced style trends

The 5,000-square-foot space, which features skylights and steel casement windows, was designed by John Lum Architecture to feel like a loft apartment, with eclectic "found" furnishings and spa treatment rooms that resemble bedrooms, each painted with a different color scheme. A selection of paintings and photographs, which Griffin plans to rotate every four to six months, includes images of "hair icons"—celebrities and political personalities past and present whose haircuts have influenced style trends. For the retail area, Griffin chose to offer product lines that would appeal to both sexes, such as Goldwell, Davines, Sharps and the Barber Lounge's signature skincare line, Barber Botanicals.

The styling area features custom-designed freestanding walnut furniture.
The styling area features custom-designed freestanding walnut furniture.

"I definitely veered toward the masculine side with the décor, name and Web site," says Griffin, "though I still wanted it to have a unisex appeal. I feel like most salons and spas cater to the female demographic, but since I already have many female clients, I wanted to go after more male clientele."

The check-in desk is backed by a window looking into the styling area that allows natural light through and enables stylists to see when their clients come in.
The check-in desk is backed by a window looking into the styling area that allows natural light through and enables stylists to see when their clients come in.

Griffin trained at the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis and has worked at a number of salons in San Francisco. Prior to opening his own business, he spent several years cutting hair out of his loft apartment because he couldn't find a salon he was interested in working for. So far, he's thrilled with the response to the Barber Lounge.

 The pedicure area.
The pedicure area.

"A lot of guys have come in for their first manicure, pedicure or facial," he says, "and I think women get a kick out of the barbershop vibe." —LOTUS ABRAMS


My Brilliant Career


Q: How do you use your skills outside the salon?

"My husband and I work all over the world as professional hair and makeup artists for numerous teens' and women's beauty pageants. Last year we were hired to be the exclusive beauty team for Mrs. America at the Mrs. World Pageant in St. Petersburg, Russia. Our salon clients back home appreciate our expertise." —Karin Jenkins co-owns Applause Salon in New Smyrna Beach, FL, with her husband, David.

Karin and David Jenkins in Russia
Karin and David Jenkins in Russia


Sunday Brunch





When Asia Gonzalez-Dent opened Lift Hair Studio in the Astoria neighborhood of New York City's Queens borough last December, her goal was to attract the young, professional women living nearby, so she created a promotion she dubbed "Manicure and Mimosa Madness."


"It's a pretty big hit around here," says Gonzalez-Dent. For $45, patrons are treated to a manicure and pedicure, a mimosa, a gourmet fruit and cheese platter and a take-home goody bag of spa products. "Many women in the area spend their weekends doing errands, and this is one of the things on their to-do lists."

For express gift shopping, Gonzalez-Dent stocked the salon's retail area with French-milled soaps, crystal perfume bottles, jewelry and hair accessories, in addition to L'Oréal and Redken haircare products. She designed Lift, with its blush-pink walls and comfortable seating, to feel like a lounge, which encourages clients to relax and unwind. "The whole concept behind the salon's name is 'lift your look, lift your spirit,'" she says, "and that's exactly what I try to do." —L.A.




MARK GARRISON SALON in New York City specializes in haircuts, so it's no wonder that owner Mark Garrison wanted to incorporate a pair of scissors into the design of his business card. "It had to be simple yet chic," Garrison says. The Garamond font-based 'G' in his name is flipped to serve as the finger holes of the scissors, while the blade simply supports the rest of the logo. "It's the perfect complement to the scissors concept," he says. —A.A.








Selling retail products is one of the most profitable ways to grow your salon's business, but adding new lines to your existing mix takes time, money and energy to plan. Consider the following questions to determine if it makes sense to add additional products to your retail mix:

Does your product offering support the needs of your client base? For example, if you're doing a high volume of color services, it makes sense to sell products for color-treated hair.

 Warren-Tricomi Los Angeles
Warren-Tricomi Los Angeles

Can you afford it? Don't stop buying a line that does well in your salon so you can afford a new line that piques your interest. Add product lines as profits from existing sales increase.

Are you listening to your loyal retail customers? Repeated requests from clients for additional products may signal it's time to consider adding new product lines.

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







Rachelle King decided to open The Studio Salon in Cleveland, OH, when she met several students from Paul Mitchell The School in nearby Twinsburg during a local hair show. Inspired by their energy and passion, King, who is a national educator for Paul Mitchell, opened the five-chair salon in March and staffed it with top graduates from the school. She set up employee benefits like 401Ks and health insurance—things she believes professionals deserve—and instilled a culture of openness and camaraderie. "We are a team," King says. "We don't compete—we inspire and teach each other."


Since her salon is a Paul Mitchell Focus Salon, King makes sure the staff maintains the company's culture of giving back by helping local organizations and supporting the industry-wide Habitat for Humanity initiative in New Orleans. "If you give," King says, "more will come back in return." Her philosophy seems to be working. King says the salon gets busier every day and is already seeing repeat customers. Guests especially enjoy the Paul Mitchell "Wash House" treatments—customized, add-on shampoos and scalp massages with names like "Thirst Quencher" and "Serious Detox"—and they appreciate the salon's positive vibe. "We have a lot of passion," King says. "We try to make sure everyone who comes through the door has a great experience." —C.W.


Capital Connection


Finding the capital to grow a salon business is on the minds of many salon owners. One source of quick funding available to small businesses is a merchant cash advance. Simply put, lenders pay cash advances to merchants that meet a minimum amount of credit card sales. The merchant then repays the advance over time through automatic deductions from its future credit card sales. The benefit of this type of financing for a salon owner is that he or she is able to obtain quick cash up front. On the other hand, the money is not cheap. The Wall Street Journal reports that the typical advance comes with a 35-percent premium. Salon owners in a cash-flow crunch can indeed benefit from merchant cash advances; the industry is growing and has helped thousands of small businesses. But do your research. Each provider offers different terms, and the industry is unregulated. Visit for more information. —C.W.




Clients at Frank.Studio in Santa Monica, CA, have always enjoyed the salon's complimentary apple martinis, but now they're welcomed by a healthier alternative: the "Borbatini," made from Borba Skin Balance Waters—which contain vitamins, minerals and botanical ingredients that are good for the skin—shaken with vodka and a "secret ingredient." "We wanted to offer something more healthful," says co-owner Lisa Xavier. "Our high-end clients are always looking for something new so we've got to keep ahead of the trends." —L.A.





Direct mail can be one of the most effective ways to reach new customers, but a poorly designed coupon could mean lost business. Here, direct mail specialist Money Mailer, in business since 1979, provides tips on how to make sure your salon's coupon stands out from the pack:

  • Keep the layout of the coupon clean and simple.
  • Add color to enhance its appeal.
  • Use a picture or graphic that will help customers easily identify the service they're looking for when sorting through coupons.
  • Highlight key information, like the company name or the offer, so it stands out from the other text.
  • State restrictions clearly and succinctly to avoid customer confusion. —L.A.
 Coupons should include a picture of your service.
Coupons should include a picture of your service.



Client Savvy


"Financial performance is an important measure of a company's health and well-being, but it's the customer that keeps the business' heart beating," points out Michael Coles, president and CEO of Caribou Coffee Co., in the preface to Craig Cochran's Becoming a Customer-Focused Organization (Paton Press LLC, 2006). From demonstrating how to develop customer surveys that produce useful data to explaining the importance of customer satisfaction training, this book shares practical strategies for any business owner who wants to reassess a company's ability to meet its clients' demands. —C.W.



Our Town


Miami, FL, might be known for having some of the hottest weather and the most road-raged drivers in the country, but Nicole Palmieri found four salons that keep locals and visitors cool, calm, collected and, most of all, stylish.


1. Samy Style Beauty Lounge


"We did a lot of homework on the salon competition in Miami," says Melinda Wells-Derocher, vice president of marketing, communications and product development at Samy Salon Systems. "The salon is located on a road with a lot of tourist traffic. We wanted to truly understand what they are looking for in a salon." The Samy Style Beauty Lounge, the company's first corporate salon, opened its doors in February and is already a popular attraction.


A variety of hair and nail services are offered, including Hair Therapy treatments made specifically for the salon that address the needs of damaged, dry, over-processed and thinning hair. The salon features a clean, white décor. Most clients receive their services on the main level, but there is also a mezzanine floor with a separate entrance for VIP clients and celebrities.

In stock: Samy, L'Oréal Professionnel Haircolor


2. Detlev Hair + Color


"We focus on the haircut, services and on creating a relaxing environment," says owner Detlev Gessner. At the shampoo stations, dim lights and lit candles adorn the area where guests sit back and enjoy a decadent 10-minute shampoo treatment, complete with scalp, shoulder and neck massage. "During the shampoo stage, there is no conversation at all," says Gessner. "It's all about relaxation."


The salon opened in 2001 and attracts a wide range of upscale clients. It features a simple, clean décor that Gessner encourages by not allowing products at the stations, which also makes the services more personal. "There is an area of the salon that contains Paul Mitchell products," Gessner says. "After stylists consult with their clients, they go to that area and pick out the products they want to use."

In stock: Paul Mitchell


3. RikRak Salon & Boutique


Hairdresser Ric Watters and his wife, Raquel, combined their names and talents to open the RikRak Salon & Boutique in 1989. Clients enjoy hair services, nail treatments, massages and facials and also take advantage of the full boutique inside, where everything from dresses and shoes to handbags and sunglasses are for sale. "It's a very unique place," says Raquel. "Our clients are trendy and into fashion so they love the merchandise."


RikRak has three locations in Miami. Besides the 7,000-square-foot flagship salon, there is a smaller location at the Four Seasons Hotel that only offers hair and nail services and one at the Sagamore Hotel that offers mainly spa services. They are all open seven days a week and attract clients ranging from upscale locals to hotel guests to celebrities who prefer in-room services. Says Raquel, "We treat all clients like they're family and friends."

In stock: Schwarzkopf, Kérastase, Barex Italiana


4. Stella Salon and Spa


Aside from requiring that stylists have some experience before working at Stella Salon and Spa, co-owners Johanna Stella and Louis "Louis-Guy D" Gignac require them to specialize. "We believe that it's hard to do everything well," Stella says. The stylists come from a wide range of backgrounds, which attracts a diverse clientele including young girls, professional women and celebrities.


The salon and spa, which opened in 1994, was designed to reflect its name and location. Since it's located near the sea and stella means star in Italian, there are stars and waves on the salon floor and huge windows for natural light. The salon also contains a self-serve product bar, where clients can finish their own hair if they desire. "Some women just want to get their hair cut and finish the look themselves," Stella says. "We provide products for them and give them direction."

In stock: Kérastase, SkinCeuticals


Big Fish, Small Pond


In every small town across America, there's at least one salon that raises the bar for everyone else. Chevy Chase, MD, (population 2,776) has Perez Salon and Day Spa.

Located just north of Washington, D.C., the town of Chevy Chase, MD, was incorporated in 1918 but undeveloped until after World War I, when the automobile became a more popular means of transportation, allowing people working in D.C. to live outside the city. Known as a wealthy suburb, the town is home to what many call the "Rodeo Drive" of the East Coast: The Collection at Chevy Chase. The Collection is a development of more than 100,000 square feet of high-end stores, including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior and Cartier. It's also home to the Perez Salon and Day Spa.

 The reception area provides a welcoming atmosphere
The reception area provides a welcoming atmosphere

Perez Salon and Day Spa, with two locations in Maryland, is a family-owned business. Co-owners and brothers Roger and Michael Perez grew up spending time in their father's salon. Together, the brothers opened up the first Perez Salon and Day Spa in Rockville, MD, in 1995 and the Chevy Chase location in December 2006.

The blood-red styling stations make a bold statement
The blood-red styling stations make a bold statement

The Perez's take pride in their employees and are selective when it comes to hiring. "We train and grow our own stylists," Roger says. "We take them right from school and require them to apprentice with us for a year so we can show them the way we do things here."

Nail services are done in a separate area of the salon
Nail services are done in a separate area of the salon

From clip-in extensions and Japanese hair-straightening to massages and glyco-peels, the salon and spa offers something for everyone, which is why it attracts such a wide clientele. "We see a lot of professional people between the ages of 25 and 55 from all cultures and backgrounds," Roger says.

Architect Peter Mallard designed the space
Architect Peter Mallard designed the space

The 5,000-square-foot Chevy Chase location features the first Redken Lab in the D.C. area. The lab allows clients to be involved in every step of the haircolor process. It features a consultation bar where clients look at color swatches and outline exactly what they hope to achieve with the haircolor. "The Redken Lab gives clients a good idea of what they are going to get," Roger says. "They are involved in the process and, therefore, the results are much more satisfying."

The salon features the first Redken Lab in the area, where clients can see color swatches and choose haircolor.
The salon features the first Redken Lab in the area, where clients can see color swatches and choose haircolor.

The furniture in the salon is contemporary, with blood-red styling stations and cherry-colored lamps. The spa, which has a separate entrance and reception area, offers clients a relaxing environment. "The separate entrance allows people to relax and not bother with the salon at all," Roger says. "But if they want to get a facial or peel after getting their hair cut, they can. We offer our clients convenient, one-stop shopping." —NICOLE PALMIERI

The shampoo stations.
The shampoo stations.

In stock: Redken, Bioelements