In Portland, Maine, one salon’s artistic idea ignites its publicity success.

Publicity Idea: Window Dressing

ONE FRIDAY EACH MONTH, the storefront
window of Akari salon in Portland, Maine,
comes alive—literally. As the community
developed its Art Walk, in which certain
galleries hosted special open houses each
month, Akari’s 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. “It’s proven a
huge success, and a refreshing change to have
hairdressing viewed as wearable art,” says
Labos. “It’s been a win-win as the window
gives our team a creative outlet, yet creates
valuable publicity for the salon.”

The Snowball Effect

Because of the unique visual nature of the live
window, it’s naturally fueled local publicity,
with the newspaper and television stations
covering the salon’s 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
station—now the team keeps getting invited
back to work on different stories.

“Recently, 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,”
says Labos.

For the most recent window which revolved
around a ’60s theme, the team was
asked to stage a love-in during the morning
news program. “They 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,” says Labos. “They eagerly did it,
even though they had to stay in costume,
work all day and do the live window that
evening—and as they left that night, they
actually thanked me.”

Publicity Idea: Window Dressing

Let the Sun Shine

With each live window, Labos says the
team’s creativity has grown—and so has
audience participation. For the ’60s-themed
window, the salon posted a call for ‘protestors’
on its Facebook page. “We 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,” says Labos.
“Inside the window, the team styled some
Afros and shaved one model’s head. The
crowd really got into it—it was like they
were recapturing their youth.”

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. “When we moved locations a few
years ago, not all the clients followed,”
he says. “But many have come up during
one of these events, expressing how
nice it is to see us and that we haven’t

A Lesson in Leadership

As a leader, Labos says he’s learned to
listen to his staff and encourage them to
follow through on good ideas. “We 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.”

Labos says he is fortunate to have such
a strong team. “I set the vision, and they
move forward with the ideas,” he says.
“It’s important to start small and iron out
the kinks. Don’t get greedy—just let the
momentum carry you.”

Publicity Idea: Window Dressing