Living the New Dream
After 20-plus year in the corporate arena of professional beauty, Allyson and Shannon King are ready to put their well-worn suitcases in storage and open up a salon a neighborhood close to their home in Brooklyn, New York.
Both felt they were blessed to start their careers as hairdressers straight out of high school. Allyson dreamt of becoming a CEO of a large company, and she did so—first as vice president of salons for Ulta, then CEO of the Dessange Group of North America. Shannon hoped to become a world-renowned platform artist and educator, which he accomplished—appearing onstage as an international artist and Exchange facilitator for Redken, as Matrix’s global director of education and training development and as an international artist for Keune.
“Now, it’s time to take what we’ve learned and do it on our own, with our vision and our own style,” says Allyson, who launches a blog series journaling the couple’s experience on salontoday.com in September. “We’ve traveled the world—but now I’d love to ride my scooter to work and pick our daughter up from school each day. To me, that’s priceless.”
Unlike other first-time owners, the Kings have a library of business and techical knowledge they’ve been sharing with others for the past 20 years. As they open what they hope will be an amazing salon, they want to continue helping other salon owners and stylists be the best at what they do, while making a solid living at the same time.
The first thing the couple has to decide is how their brand will be different from their competitors. “The salon space is very competitive,” Allyson says. “If we are going to jump in, the first thing we have to decide is how we will be unique. We thought we’d keep it close to home—Brooklyn is cool, Brooklyn is eclectic and Brooklyn is truly a melting pot.
The Kings want to open a salon that is truly multi-cultural, just like their family. “We don’t want to focus on Caucasian hair or African American hair, we want to focus on Brooklyn hair,” Allyson explains. “What if every stylist could do every client’s hair—really every client. What if every client was serviced with enthusiasm, creativity and style because the team gets that hair is hair.”
The Kings start the process by reaching out to a friend who’s an expert in franchise real estate for restaurants and businesses the same size they want their salon. She pointed them to them to a commercial realtor who is a native Brooklynite, has experience with smaller retail spaces, as well as has been instrumental in the growth of several chains throughout New York’s boroughs.
Together they map out the neighborhoods they love and gather relevant demographic data. They decide they want a spot located close to a coffee shop, winestore or outdoor eatery with easy access to public transportation.
“We really want to be a hip community salon, and we want to target up-and-coming neighborhoods where we can take advantage of lower rents before things get too expensive,” Allyson says.
Throughout their journey, they quickly learn some important lessons about commercial real estate, and Allyson shares the important lessons they are learning, as well as how their corporate knowledge is shaping their decisions through her picture and personality-blogs.
“Creating a multi-cultural salon is our mission, and Brooklyn is our muse,” she writes in her first blog. “Time to get to work, chat with you soon.”