Better Business

Q How do you stay ahead in a competitive market?

I place great emphasis on personal attention and ensure that everyone from celebrities to first-time clients feels at home in my salon. I only hire stylists who are successful, talented and innovative, and who have an understanding of people. They must be able to converse with clients about their families and work, understand their needs and not be afraid to cater to them. —Nick Chavez is owner of Nick Chavez Salon in Beverly Hills, CA.

 Nick Chavez
Nick Chavez


Beverly hills style



Beverly Hills is home to beautiful people, stylish boutiques and restaurants, and now, thanks to Nelson Chan, a sparkling gem of a hair salon. The serene, 2,500-square-foot, nine-chair oasis, in the midst of the bustle of Beverly Hills, offers some of the best cuts and haircolor, hair straightening, makeup services, head and neck massages, manicures and pedicures in town. There are two VIP rooms where longtime clients like Alicia Silverstone, Leah Remini, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Heather Graham, Devon Aoki and Maggie Q get their tresses tended to, but Chan is quick to point out that everyone gets one-on-one VIP attention at Nelson J Salon. The salon's stable of signature services includes the popular 20-minute, $50, 100-percent natural Nelson J Treatment, a soothing deep-conditioning service for those afflicted with overly curly, frizzy, dry, untamable or chemically damaged hair. Good-for-you ingredients like coconut and sunflower oils, shea butter, jojoba, soy and wheat proteins are generously applied to hair and processed under heat for five minutes to speed penetration and create smooth-as-silk strands. The salon also features a signature haircare line—Nelson J—that's free of parabens, sulfates, gluten and casein. "But all this attention to detail wouldn't matter without a great staff," Chan says. "The most important thing for me was finding a great team who care about their clients as much as their careers." —K.D.





O'HAIR SALON AND SPA in Gaithersburg, MD, maintains a conservatively contemporary image, so Salon Director Domenic Cicala designed O'Hair's business card to reflect it. The card features black ink overlaid on copper paper, which Cicala says he chose because it was "unusual and edgy," but it was so expensive that it had to be bought in bulk. Cicala shot and edited the photo of a past client and used Futura Light, a font that O'Hair has been working with for about 27 years, in addition to one called "Chiller." —A.L.






As the holidays approach, it's time to start thinking about how to merchandise your salon in order to move as much product as possible during the busy gift-giving season. When considering your displays, don't forget the potential for impulse purchases. These are lower-priced items that are great for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers or much-needed, last-minute gifts. When merchandising your salon with impulse purchase items, consider the following:

INCREASE VISIBILITY: Impulse purchase products are best placed at the checkout counter in your salon, where clients will see them. Keeping items by the register will create a fun and exciting display.


MAKE IT EASY: Keep testers available so clients can try products while they are checking out, and pre-wrap the products to save your clients the hassle of gift-wrapping.

KEEP IT SMALL: Travel-size products, lip balms or small candles will add a little something extra to any gift.

PRICE IT RIGHT: Keep items under $10. You are more likely to sell a smaller, inexpensive item as an add-on to a sale than a higher-priced product. Customers generally think of these purchases as extras, so price them right and watch them move!

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.





The curly-haired inhabitants of Atlanta, GA, entrust their locks to the experts at Urbanbella salon. Urbanbella began as a hair apothecary, where customers could purchase some of the best products for textured tresses, but it recently began providing styling services as well. It was an obvious next step, says Keneesha Hudson, Urbanbella's curly-haired creator. "My inspiration has been to make it easier for women with curly hair to wear it in its natural state," she says.


With chocolate-colored ceilings and floors and Tiffany-blue walls, Urbanbella's shabby chic decor serves as the perfect setting for its Curl Talk & Tea seminars, which the salon hosts four times a year. During the seminars, guests trade styling tips and get advice from the salon's experts and from product vendors. Jane Carter of the Jane Carter Solution and representatives from Simply Organic attended this summer's seminar. "I knew a forum that brought curly-haired women together would provide an opportunity for them to learn from each other," says Hudson. "Women can count on leaving with new ideas and solutions." —C.W.


The Bronze Business


As people become more aware of the dangers of UV rays, technician-applied airbrush tanning is becoming increasingly popular. The procedure uses a DHA formula and a compressor to create a spray-on tan. Many salons, including Rita Hazan's in New York City, are getting into the game. Hazan recently employed an airbrush artist who tailor-makes tans for each client. Sally Blenkey-Tchassova, owner of Brazil Bronze Glow Bar in New York City, says that adding spray tanning to your menu is easier than you may think. Blenkey-Tchassova distributes an HVLP spray machine, tanning formula and a training DVD for less than, say, microdermabrasion equipment. She says you don't necessarily need a special booth, shower stall or a costly extraction system, as long as you have a space that is well-lit, well-ventilated and a wall backed with a material that you can wipe down. "If your technicians are trained and you educate your customers, you won't have to worry about complaints," she says. "The service can be hugely profitable because it generates steady clients." Just ask Hazan. "Men, women, teenagers—everyone loves it," she says. —C.W.





At RITA HAZAN SALON in New York City, clients with hair in serious need of repair are addressing the problem by getting a cutting-edge JAPANESE PROTEIN TREATMENT called Noiraudepro prior to any chemical service. The treatment uses keratin in three different weights, depending on the extent of damage; collagen to add moisture and soften hair; silk peptides to add shine; and chitoaqua, a substance extracted from crabs. Yes, crabs. It coats the hair with a soft film that makes strands smooth, stops frizz and adds body. (Allergic to shellfish? A substitute ingredient is available.) For more info on Noiraudepro, visit —C.W.




Missed appointments can really impact a salon's profits, yet the cause is often simply that the client forgot. To address this problem, Smile Reminder offers an e-mail and text-messaging service that salons can use to remind clients of their appointments. The service also makes filling last-minute cancellations easy, because salons can send out a text message or e-mail to clients alerting them of an open appointment rather than making time-consuming calls. In addition, salons can use the service to deliver birthday greetings, announce promotions or send e-newsletters.


"These types of personal touches really help develop the relationship between the salon and the client," says Mark Olson, director of marketing for Smile Reminder. "And once you establish this relationship, you can send any type of promotion."

The service can interface with most salon software systems, and a flat monthly fee entitles users to unlimited text messages and e-mails. —L.A.


Our Town


Known for its major corporations, gourmet restaurants and 19 th -century architecture, Cincinnati, OH, is also home to several reputable hair salons. Nicole Palmieri found four that keep residents looking good.

1. Hype Salon

Hype Salon, which opened in 2006, offers a variety of hair services, including highlights, color, perms and cuts, but the most popular service is color. With an industrial decor featuring 30-foot ceilings and craftsman-style tool stations, it's no surprise that this Paul Mitchell signature salon is one of the hippest salons in the city. "We're located in a thriving area of Downtown Cincinnati, just a few miles away from a university, so we attract many college students and professionals," says Hype Salon owner Chris Crowley. "We don't do much advertising for the salon at the university, but many of our clients recommend us to friends. Word-of-mouth is very important to us."


In stock: Paul Mitchell

2. The Better Man Salon and Spa

"The Better Man Salon and Spa opened in 2005 as a place for men to feel comfortable getting salon and spa services," says Shawna Kinhalt, director. Today, it remains a haven for men of all ages to receive everything from haircuts and body waxing to packages like the Executive Escape ($337), which includes a haircut, manicure, pedicure, sea salt body scrub, massage, facial, beverage and lunch.


The salon and spa attracts a wide range of male clients, from young boys to older business men to athletes from the Cincinnati Reds baseball team and Bengals NFL football team. The salon and spa features a masculine decor with black tile, blue walls, theater seating, leather recliners in the waiting area and flat-screen TVs that show sports and news stations. "The atmosphere is great here and the staff is friendly, which attracts a lot of clients," says Kinhalt. "But our clients return because of the quality of our services."

In stock: Matrix for Men, Redken for Men, Nioxin, Bioelements

3. Benzie Salon

"Referrals are huge for us," says Gary Benz, owner of Benzie Salon, which opened in 2004. "When people are happy with the service we gave them, they are more likely to tell their friends." The full-service salon offers everything from haircuts and styling to manicures and a unique color system that offers full and partial highlights in patterns such as a star, a beach ball and a zigzag.


The 1,400-square-foot salon features a contemporary decor with light wood floors, leather, retro-style furniture and a seating area in the middle of the salon "so that clients can bring friends in with them to keep them company," Benz says. The salon is planning to feature a "Benzie's Picks" retail display in which stylists choose their two favorite products from any company for clients to purchase.

In stock: Alterna

4. Identity Hair Salon & Spa

Identity Hair Salon & Spa, which currently has three locations, is open daily because, according to owner Linda Cooper, they want to be available to their clients. The Intercoiffure salon's Kenwood location, a neighborhood in Cincinnati, is the largest, featuring chrome and black stations, moss green and brown walls and two double-sided fireplaces. The 14,000-square-foot, full-service salon and medical spa offers haircuts, color, pedicures, massages and facials, and attracts mostly high-end women as clients.


Cooper, who has done a lot of editorial work but still finds the time to see clients, only hires stylists who have no experience. "I like my stylists to be new so that they can become part of our family here and grow up with us," she says.

In stock: Identity, L'Oréal


Big Fish, Small Pond


In every small town across America, there's at least one salon that raises the bar for everyone else. Waukee, IA, (population 10,950) has Signature Male, Barber & Day Spa.

Just on the western outskirts of Iowa's capital and largest city, Des Moines, lies the town of Waukee. Waukee, which originated as one of seven stops on the old Des Moines Valley Railroad, has grown immensely since the 1990s and is still one of the fastest growing cities in Iowa.


Like Waukee, Doug and Jana Van Polen's salon and spa business has also flourished. In January 2002, the native Iowans opened Signature Male, a barber day spa that provides services designed specifically for men in a male-friendly environment. It was a concept that was unlike the other four Van Polen Salons they own, which cater to women.

The Van Polens were intrigued that they could not find male-only salons in the bigger cities, but Doug thinks he knows why. "The guys on the East and West coasts don't care whether they go into a beauty salon or barbershop for services," he says. "I would say guys in the Midwest are a little intimidated to go into a beauty salon. We've created an inviting atmosphere so that the average guy will feel comfortable here." Signature Male's patrons are offered drinks, snacks and magazines, as well as cigars to enjoy in the salon's smoking room. Cherry and birch woods are used throughout the relaxing but upscale 4,000-square-foot space.

The six-chair salon offers cuts, trims, haircolor, massage, reflexology, facials and waxing. A private VIP room is available for any hair service and private hand- and foot-detailing rooms are outfitted with TVs. One of Signature Male's specialties is their hair restoration service for the scalp, eyebrows, sideburns, beard and mustache. A physician's assistant is on staff for consultations and follow-ups, and a doctor travels from Minneapolis once a month to perform the work.

The Van Polens thank their loyal female clientele from their other salons for encouraging their male friends and family to check out Signature Male. "Guys are tough to change," says Doug. "But now more guys are embracing the concept." —ANN KALAYIL ABRAMS

In stock: Aveda Men, ProColor, Art of Shaving, Bumble and bumble