Publicity Idea: Window Dressing
ONE FRIDAY EACH MONTH, the storefront
window of Akari salon in Portland, Maine,
comes aliveâliterally. As the community
developed its Art Walk, in which certain
galleries hosted special open houses each
month, Akariâs owner Allan Labos and its
team decided hairdressing was one of the
purest forms of art.
For their first live window, the creative team picked the theme of 1920s hair styles, showcased as the ladies of a bordello readied themselves for the evening. âItâs proven a huge success, and a refreshing change to have hairdressing viewed as wearable art,â says Labos. âItâs been a win-win as the window gives our team a creative outlet, yet creates valuable publicity for the salon.â
The Snowball Effect
Because of the unique visual nature of the live window, itâs naturally fueled local publicity, with the newspaper and television stations covering the salonâs activities. In fact, one of the local television producers served as a model in one of the live windows, then turned around and invited the team to the stationânow the team keeps getting invited back to work on different stories.
âRecently, one of the anchorwomen chose us to do her hair and make-up for her wedding and is constantly blogging about all the beauty activities leading up to her big day,â says Labos.
For the most recent window which revolved around a â60s theme, the team was asked to stage a love-in during the morning news program. âThey had to be at the station from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. where they dressed as hippies and sang songs from that era,â says Labos. âThey eagerly did it, even though they had to stay in costume, work all day and do the live window that eveningâand as they left that night, they actually thanked me.â
Let the Sun Shine
With each live window, Labos says the teamâs creativity has grownâand so has audience participation. For the â60s-themed window, the salon posted a call for âprotestorsâ on its Facebook page. âWe had a crowd of protesters outside the window, we were doing bodypaint, and we offered complimentary brownies to anyone willing to give our hula hoop a spin,â says Labos. âInside the window, the team styled some Afros and shaved one modelâs head. The crowd really got into itâit was like they were recapturing their youth.â
Labos says the live windows are responsible for a positive buzz around town. During the Art Walks, Akari offers passersby a brochure and a tour of the salon and spa. As new clients are discovering Akari, former clients are finding their way back. âWhen we moved locations a few years ago, not all the clients followed,â he says. âBut many have come up during one of these events, expressing how nice it is to see us and that we havenât changed.â
A Lesson in Leadership
As a leader, Labos says heâs learned to listen to his staff and encourage them to follow through on good ideas. âWe had talked once about doing live mannequins in the window, but the idea took off one day when a nail tech had a slow schedule and took some staff members into the window and did their nails. That turned into a nail event, with refreshments, free nail polish removal and color touch-ups. Polish and make-up sales went up by 30 percent.â
Labos says he is fortunate to have such a strong team. âI set the vision, and they move forward with the ideas,â he says. âItâs important to start small and iron out the kinks. Donât get greedyâjust let the momentum carry you.â