Stephen Soto is proud of his Mullet. The manager and master stylist at one of Orlandoâs cult hairdressing destinations believes that the Mullet is hot and getting hotter, as word spreads across central Florida and maybe even the rest of the country.
Fortunately, the Mullet is just the name of the salon he runs, and not his hair style. Creating a mullet for a client is not even an option, as Soto describes his salon âsophisticated and ultra trendy.â
In charge of the business since January 2007, Soto came on board to help out his cousin Abner Suarez, a real estate investor, and his partner Thomas Morin. The two had bought the salon as a business opportunity, and spent three months revamping everything about its interior and imageâbut decided to keep the name for its icebreaker appeal. In the salon world, itâs not one youâll soon forget.
The First Cut
The inside of the salon gives off a New York art-deco vibe, says Soto, pointing out the muted palette of gray blues and red accents. But even with major design changes, the salon has kept a charm of its own with eclectic furnishings and curiosities. For his clients, itâs the place to be. âWe get all kinds, from teenagers to young professionals and baby boomers.â
Clients of all ages are sure to appreciate the salonâs commitment to education and customer service. âWeâre ultra technical with our services,â says Soto, âand we go the extra mile to make sure the clientâs experience is one theyâll remember.â
When Soto first took control of the salon, he had to deal with the departure of the salonâs only two stylists besides himself. He was forced to build his team from the ground up, and now employs a full styling staff, as well as an esthetician and massage therapist. Although trend-conscious individuals are a must for his salon, Soto digs deeper to find candidates who are truly committed to nurturing their talents.
âWe look for people who are education-focused and want to continue their education and possibly teach others. If they donât want to raise the bar, I donât feel like they belong here. My main concern is making the industry and my staff the best that they can be.â
Soto takes unique avenues to get his message out. For one thing, he invites current clients to hold Girlsâ Nights Out in the salon, where they invite friends and family to come in, hang out and sample express servicesâat no cost to any of them. âIt works for us, because we get people in the chair and the treatment room and they get a feel for us,â says Soto, adding that he learned that trick from one of his mentors.
The Mullet is also advertised in various media, and Soto garners a lot of free coverage as a platform artist at national hair shows. A PR company has gotten them plugs in publications, and Soto hopes that his latest endeavorâgathering a team of local surgeons and specialists to create their own version of âExtreme Makeoverââwill also be a success.
Mullet stylists take their clientsâs home care seriously, prescribing products to clients, letting them sample items free, and creating a 2-for-$30 sale on Thursdays. Staffers take home a 10-percent commission on their sales.
But the loudest buzz has come from the salonâs name. In fact, staffers like to mix up the pronunciation of the name, calling it âThe Mull-ay,â along the lines of Targetâs infamous moniker, âTar-jay.â âWeâre branding a line of products which will be pronounced The Mull-ay, so we are getting it out there for people to know the name,â explains Soto. âItâs all designed to create conversation.â