At Harper on Melrose in Los Angeles, where clients are told to expect something extra, customer service is a top priority.
When Privé closed in Beverly Hills, CA last year, Nicole Hartmann, Nikki Pittam and Carla Gentile decided to strike out on their own. The first step was finding a space they loved, but they all agreed that form would follow function when it came to design. “A lot of salons cram as many stations as they can into a space without thinking about the comfort level of the stylist or the client,” says Gentile, who knew from experience that a hairdresser needs about five or six feet in which to work. “That gives everybody enough room to move around, which is really important ergonomically,” she says. The shampoo room is a private area with lights on dimmer switches to create an ambient mood, and the oversize shampoo bowls, which are from Takara Belmont, are comfortable. “We want the client to relax and enjoy the experience,” Gentile says. From the get-go, it was decided to create a modern, industrial vibe—concrete floors, exposed brick walls, stations made of reclaimed barn wood. It was Pittam’s idea to buy a 14-foot ficus tree, which sits directly under a skylight. “It adds a lot of warmth and gives the salon a California look,” says Gentile, who is a stickler for customer service. “We put fresh fruit in our ice cubes, and we leave individually-wrapped miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups out for our guests to enjoy,” she says. “They love that.” Pop-up retail stores within the space are something new. “We did the first one during the holidays last December,” she says. “We partnered with Alchemy Works, a store in downtown L.A. and brought in lots of their gifty items.” In February when the East Coast was pounded by winter storms, a pop-up featuring sunglasses was a big hit for them. In fact, the pop-up stores have been so well received they plan to partner with a major designer soon. Stay tuned. ✂ —Marianne Dougherty
Photography: Courtesy of Harper Melrose