Better Business


Q How did you go from stylist to salon owner?

I started working at one of my mother's salons at 15, but I dreamt of opening my own salon so I began stashing away my cash. At 21, I made an offer to lease a space but was told that I was too young. My persistence finally paid off when I launched my first salon 15 years ago. —Hasblady Guzman was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and is the owner of Renaissance and Bokaos hair salons in Southern California.

 Hasblady Guzman
Hasblady Guzman

Two in one

Wink Salon in Virginia Beach, VA, gets its name from a pinup magazine from the 1930s, and the theme carries through to the decor. Posters of pinup girls from that era line the walls, conveying the sense and sensuality of a time gone by. Still, the exposed ceilings, imported Italian furnishings, textured walls and abundant use of stainless steel give the space a modern, urban feel.

Wink is actually divided into two salons, each serving two different types of clientele. On one side, established stylists serve a high-end, discerning crowd in a casual yet sophisticated atmosphere. "The Other Side," as owner Debbie Glenn named it, shares the same entrance as Wink but is separated by a soundproof wall. This side caters to a younger demographic and is staffed with stylists in their 20s, who are adept at creating funkier looks. The decor is a little edgier, with mechanic-style toolboxes, graffiti-covered walls and retro styling chairs that contribute to the fun, laid-back atmosphere. "Our stylists on The Other Side know what the younger kids want and how to give it to them," Glenn says. "Some of the kids are pierced and tattooed, and they can come here and feel comfortable knowing they won't get strange looks from other, more conservative guests." —C.W.


CUTLER SALON has a staff of editorial stylists who can always be found backstage during fashion week in New York City, so it made sense to borrow from the fashion world when it came time to design new business cards. "In this case we looked to designer Paul Smith, who uses a lot of stripes," says Creative Director Anthony Barrow. Those same stripes are repeated in the salon's decor and on its product line. "The stripes may change in size, but they're always present," says Barrow. —M.D.



Signage is one of the most effective ways to convey information about your retail brands and promotions. With today's computer technology and printing options, quality signs don't have to cost a lot. As customers walk by your salon, you have about three seconds to let them know what they'll find inside. Professional signage should provide just the right amount of information to inspire passersby to enter your salon and try your products. Effective signs have the following qualities:

  • Signage should be simply designed and easy to read. Don't use too many words or punctuation marks to get your point across. Use clear, bold images to help convey your message.
  • Signs should be visible without blocking traffic flow or product displays. Once the sign is in place, check it from the vantage point of the client. Use care when adhering signs to glass or windows to avoid visible tape marks.
  • Pick a simple color scheme that works with the salon's decor. Make sure that the colors have enough contrast so the copy is easy to read.
  • Keep signs up-to-date. If a promotion has ended or you've added a new product line, update signs accordingly.

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.



Destinations Hair Studio & Day Spa is a luxe getaway in the middle of Pennsylvania's Amish Country. It's located in a beautiful, historic setting inside Leola Village Inn & Suites, a designated Historic Hotel of America composed of six restored Dutch homes and workplaces dating from 1873. The lobby once housed a tobacco barn.

But despite its nod to history, Destinations is a posh and relaxing day spa with services specifically tailored for today's modern clients. The full-service salon offers manicures, pedicures, makeup application, massages, facials and body treatments using Bioelements products.Destinations caters to its gentlemen guests with a specially designed menu that provides an alternative to traditional spa offerings. Men can choose from three different professional shaves or a scalp treatment, courtesy of Dawn Kruis, who was trained and certified by The Art of Shaving staff on Madison Avenue in New York City. In addition to The Art of Shaving, Biolage and Bed Head products, the spa's furnishings, accent pieces and works of art are available for purchase, so when guests leave, they can take a piece of the spa home with them. —C.W.

Attitude Adjustment

You may not be ready to fire your assistant manager who's "out sick" again on a Friday, or the receptionist who's upset another client, but these issues could lead to bigger problems if they aren't addressed early on, according to Jennifer Forgie of OnPoint Consulting, a firm that specializes in performance-management systems. Forgie advocates clearly defining performance expectations to staff from the start. "In order to be able to pinpoint poor performance, you need to be clear about what high performance is," she says. Forgie stresses that managers should be trained in setting goals and coaching staff, should provide ongoing feedback and should discuss poor performance with employees without delay. Finally, it's important to recognize improvement. "It reinforces the behaviors that are needed for this person to turn around," Forgie says. —L.A.


Looks like hair straightening isn't the only Japanese beauty service clients will soon be clamoring for. At Takamichi Head to Toe, the new mini spa inside Manhattan's Takamichi Hair, the Japanese Eyelash Perm is quickly catching on. Clients request the amount of curl they want, and then beauty specialist Yoshie Sweeting curls eyelashes one-by-one over rubber rollers before applying the gentle Japanese perming solution. "She does it that way to be sure each lash is going in the right direction," says publicist Marie Saeki. "It makes a huge difference." The effects last three to five weeks.



Redken's Education Artistic Director Sam Villa is going high tech. In early 2008, his all-encompassing professional haircare education, including everything from trend-driven technicals to successful salon-management strategies, will be available on DVD and at through his new company, Allvus, LLC. Here, he's provided a taste of what's to come, sharing four skills that he says every salon owner should focus on to achieve success:

Sam Villa
Sam Villa

TEAM MOTIVATION: Instilling a team-based philosophy increases motivation because it requires everyone to participate in order to achieve goals. Incorporate team-building strategies into your staff meetings and promotions, and find ways to recognize outstanding displays of teamwork.

COMMUNICATION SKILLS: Customer service begins with good communication skills, starting with the consultation process. Have your team master the consultation process, and they will become masters at retaining clients and increasing business.

CONTINUING EDUCATION: Ongoing education enables salon professionals to learn and incorporate the latest trends and techniques into their services, generating higher revenue per customer and attracting new clientele.

BUSINESS SKILLS: Successful salon professionals continually monitor their business performance and focus on areas where improvements can be made. Every salon manager should regularly ask these questions: Where is my service revenue, up or down? Where is my retail revenue, up or down? What percent of my revenue comes from chemical services? What is my client-retention level? What resources and days do I have devoted to continuing education? For more information on Sam Villa's forthcoming educational DVDs, call 212/984-4279 or visit

Our Town

Known as the City of Roses because of its abundance of trees, and for a climate ideal for growing roses, Portland, OR, attracts both locals and visitors because of its big-city feel but small-town charm. Nicole Palmieri found four salons that offer big-city services with small-town hospitality.

1. Magnum Opus

"We have a reputation for being professional and focused on education," says Joe Hunter, manager of Magnum Opus, which opened in 1973 and moved to its current location 14 years ago. "Providing the staff with continuous education ensures that they stay fresh and new, which translates to the clients and keeps them coming back to the salon."

The 7,500-square-foot salon is located in a warehouse space and features an urban, modern, industrial-style decor with natural light and exposed beams throughout. The salon offers only hair services because, "Instead of being okay at a lot of things, we want to be very good at just one," Hunter says. With the mission statement, "To exceed the expectations of customers," the salon takes pride in its customer service, teamwork and education, which is why it's been so successful, Hunter says.

In stock: Kerastase, Bumble and bumble, Redken

2. UnSprung

Specializing in hair-straightening treatments, UnSprung attracts local and out-of-town clients looking for a way to tame their curls. From permanent chemical straightening to the Brazilian keratin treatment, the salon offers many ways to go curl-free. Haircuts and styling are also offered, but the variety of straightening treatments are what UnSprung is known for.

The 117-square-foot salon opened in 2003, when owner Alysia Read decided she needed a place with good ventilation where she could perform thermal straightening treatments. The space features a relaxing atmosphere with an Asian antique-inspired decor and plenty of recycled materials. "It's a small space with an artist's studio feel to it," Read says. "Since most clients come in once a year, it's fun and refreshing for them."

In stock: MJ Hair Care, Finish Straight

3. Urbaca Salon

Stylists at Urbaca Salon are required to apprentice for one year before they're allowed to work on clients. "When our stylists graduate from beauty school, they have the bare minimum license to work on hair," says Joe Lisac, business and operations manager. "They get their real education from us."

The salon, which opened in 1998, features a decor that Lisac describes as a cross between the ruggedness of the Pacific Northwest and the urban-loft feel of New York City's SoHo neighborhood. It features 24-inch Douglas Fir exposed beams throughout, custom-designed work stations and modern lighting. Transplants from big cities like New York and Chicago, soccer moms and working professionals all appreciate the salon's hair services and skin treatments. "More clients are now concerned with sun exposure, so they get one of our facials or peels and come back looking great," Lisac says. "You can't buy that kind of advertising."

In stock: Goldwell, KMS California, Bumble and bumble

4. Kalista Salon and Spa

While clients can enjoy hair and body services at Kalista Salon and Spa, they can also partake in wine tastings on weekends, which owner Kimberly Schoene claims attract many new clients. To help ensure client loyalty, stylists at the salon are required to have experience and the right attitude. "Before I hire someone, I make sure they have the talent and the right personality to fit in," Schoene says.

The 4,000-square-foot salon features a bohemian theme and all the products used are natural and organic. The salon attracts a wide clientele, from joggers who stop by to get a brow wax to men who come in for massages. "Our staff is diverse, so the salon attracts a diverse clientele," Schoene says.

In stock: PureOlogy, Keune So Pure

Big Fish, Small Pond

In small towns all across America, there's one salon that raises the bar for everyone else. St. Clair, MI, (population 5,802) has DeMarc Hair Studio.

The town of St. Clair, MI, located along a lake that shares the same name, inherited its moniker back on August 12, 1679, the day of the religious festival of Sainte Claire. It was on that day that French explorer Robert Cavelier de la Salle and French missionary Père Louis Hennepin first entered the lake while sailing on what is now the Detroit River, and the community developed on its shores soon after.

Located in this town is the 1,400-square-foot DeMarc Hair Studio, situated in the house that owner Debra Schilling grew up in. The salon, which originally opened in 1986 and relocated to its current location in 1993, offers hair services on the bottom floor and spa treatments upstairs. Featuring light wood floors and cherry wood cabinets with black granite countertops, the salon makes clients feel right at home.

Schilling turned DeMarc Hair Studio into a Philip Pelusi concept salon in 2004. Since then, she has been able to help clients deal with a variety of hair issues, including thinning and aging. "We analyze each client's hair before recommending a treatment and letting them know what we can do to fix it," she says. Schilling's expertise, her top-notch staff and the unique hair treatments offered at the salon attract a wide variety of patrons and are some of the reasons why the salon is so respected in town. "If you have hair problems, I can fix them—that's my reputation," Schilling says.

Aside from making sure guests are happy, Schilling also gives back to the community. Several times a year, she organizes charity events at the salon to raise money for various local organizations, including Operation Transformation, a group that helps improve society through mentoring, and the American Cancer Society's Look Good Feel Better program. At these events, clients choose from Spa HairX Therapy treatments, like "facials for the hair," according to Schilling, to help remedy different hair issues. "It seems like the more I give, the more good things I get coming back to me," she says. —NICOLE PALMIERI

In stock: Philip Pelusi