Setting the Stage
Establishing a male-friendly environment starts with the name, says Serena Chreky, who with husband Andre co-owns the Andre Chreky the Salon Spa in Washington, D.C. “If your name is Sally’s Spa, that’s not very inviting to men. You need a dynamic name that appeals to both sexes. Let’s face it—Andre Chreky is a far less inhibiting name for men than Elizabeth Arden.”
Space limitations prevented the Chrekys from establishing separately designated men’s and women’s areas, so they chose a decor that attracted both sexes. “We’re in a townhouse and we chose comfortable earth tones with natural wood and leather materials—it’s very Tuscan in feel,” says Chreky. But the couple also found the limited space works to their advantage. “Each floor is very narrow, so there’s lots of interaction between staff and clients,” says Chreky. “Andre always introduces staff members as they walk by. For example he’ll say, ‘This is Ozzie, she’s our brow guru.’ Then Ozzie will invite that male client back later to talk about what she could do for his eyebrows.”
Lather Spa in New York also approaches decor from a unisex, middle of the road approach. “We follow the lead set by our custom brand of products—we’re comfortable, clean and full of color, including greens, teals, reds, oranges and yellows,” says Shaana Melendrez, spa director.
When an establishment like Metro Styles in Raleigh, North Carolina, targets only men, decor takes a decidedly more masculine
approach. “We incorporate a lot of cherry wood, with cool-type, blue suede colors,” says owner Tina Mclendon.
Room of Their Own
For the spas that cater to both sexes and have the space, creating separate locker rooms, lounge areas and treatment facilities has proven very successful. But taking a comparative tour through the men’s and women’s areas may reveal interesting differences between the sexes.
At Spa Space in Chicago, owner Natalie Tessler welcomes men by placing male-oriented product lines as well men’s clothing prominently in the front space of the neutral, urban-chic spa.
“Here, men have their own locker room, lounge area, steam rooms and rain showers, as well as their own robes and sandals,” says Tessler, who reports 40 percent of her clientele is male. “The men’s relaxation area features a big screen TV, while the women’s area does not. Women want to relax away from the television, while TV helps men relax. It gives them something to look at instead of each other.”
Escape can be provided in the smallest of places. At Lather Spa, the manicure and pedicure stations feature a small screen and a DVD player.
“Male clients can choose to watch episodes of Arrested Development, The Office, or Saturday Night Live,” says Melendrez. They can put on their headphones, which alleviates the stress of having to maintain a conversation with the nail technician, and they are able to relax.”
When Joyce Hampers opened Emerge Spa Salon in Boston, in April 2006, she wanted to encourage the slow-growing male sales she experienced at her 14-year old Giuliani, The Spa for Beauty and Wellness (which was recently rebranded as g2o.) “We were determined to take advantage of the growing trend by actually devoting a space to our male clientele,” says Hampers.
Half of one of the new spa’s floors—about 1,250 square feet—became The Men’s Club. Decorated with mahogany wood, graphite gray tweed carpeting, blue stone tile and brass accents, the Men’s Club borrows ideas from European gentlemen’s clubs. Like Spa Space, the men’s lounge also features a wall-mounted flat screen TV.
But what took Hampers by surprise when creating the space was a call she received from the Massachusetts Board of Cosmetology.
“We received a warning from the Barber Division that if we intended to have a separate men’s area, then we needed to apply for a separate barber’s license and have at least one employee who held a master barber license, which is a few steps above a regular barber license,” she says. “We did have a master barber on staff, but what really surprised us was we were told we also had to incorporate a traditional barber pole in the area to designate the space.”
Hampers tried explaining to the board official that the red and white pole didn’t fit with her planned decor, but she begrudgingly agreed to feature a barbershop pole decal on the window of the door leading to the men’s club. “Interestingly, it ended up being the opposite of what I was worried about,” says Hampers. “Granted, it doesn’t look great with the decor, but it does seem to attract more men with the mindset of going into a barbershop—it subtly tells them it’s alright to be here.”