While the participants are planning to gather at TSA’s Symposium in San Antonio this January, they’re also making plans for a summit next summer and several have traveled to visit other participants’ salons.
“It was so powerful and comforting to be in a situation where we were all in the same boat,” agrees Loboda. “We all have a tendency to talk to our spouses or friends until they just shut off, but here we could talk business until we were blue in the face and we all understood each other’s unique perspective.”
The Super Six
About five years ago, John Ryan, who with wife Melissa owns Festoon Salons in San Francisco and Berkeley, California, was invited to be on a panel with about 13 other owners to help organize a Learning Lounge, one of TSA’s regional education seminars. “There was a core group of us who became very active in planning this meeting and we had four or five great phone conversations and got along really well,” says Ryan. “After the meeting I called them up asked if they would be interested in getting together for dinner sometime.”
Over the years, that casual invitation transformed into a strong and mutually beneficial bond among the owners of a handful of leading salons in the Bay area. The group, once dubbed the Super Six by a distributor hoping to capture their collective business, now includes John and Melissa Ryan; Cinta Gibbons, owner of Cinta Salon in San Francisco; Gina Khan and Vijai Manilal, co-owners of Gina Khan Salon/Yosh for Hair in San Francisco; Bonnie Waters, owner of Changes Salon and Day Spa in Walnut Creek, California; and Joseph Aghassi, general manager, and Elizabeth Stenstrom,artistic director of L Salon and Color Group in San Mateo, California.
Initially the group would try to get together once a quarter for dinner. “But soon we found that meeting in a restaurant didn’t allow us enough time or the ability to have a candid conversation, so then we started taking turns hosting catered dinners in each of our salons,” says Ryan. “We still wanted more time so we started organizing weekend getaways, first to Calistoga in the California wine country, then to Carmel. Over the years, we’ve probably gotten together about 20 times.”
Many outsiders would view the salons in the group as direct competitors—each is a high-end salon counting annual sales in the millions and employs between 30-55 employees. But Ryan says the Bay area offers enough business for everyone and the alliance has made each of the salons stronger.