In Seattle, Washington, an Italian family creatively blends retail and service into a new salon experience.
AS A FOURTH-GENERATION STYLIST, Giovanna Duque, co-owner of Duque Salon +Spa+Boutique in Seattle, Washington, cannot remember a time when her family did not offer their beauty clients something other than hair. Whether it was a biscotti, coffee, or tea, she says it’s unheard of in her Italian culture not to offer the client an offering of food. Naturally, that ideology carried over and that’s why she explored different retail options. Her newest idea— selling candy to customers:
The salon’s candy section connects clients to their childhood and provides a nice add-on to gift card purchases.
Why do you think exploring different retail opportunities, such as candy, strengthen your brand?
Since I don’t have time to bake, we wanted to appeal to that sixth sense and candies appeal to that. We offer Retro rock candy, Wax Lips from the ’50s and ’60s, Fireballs, Mary Janes, Chick-O-Sticks, old fashion taffy, candy necklaces, nostalgic gum, just to name a few. Sometimes I see clients get tears in their eyes when they see the candy. It makes them happy. It’s a great add-on to a spa gift card or a purchase.
What other unique retail options have you explored in the past? What has worked and what hasn’t worked?
Besides candy we offer an entire boutique of goodies. Clients who walk in will see a mixture of expensive and inexpensive items. Our boutique is a place where rare finds are juxtaposed with well-made, less extravagant items. Geared towards the savvy shopper, “No girl is left behind,” as we offer something for everyone’s budget. We offer an eclectic array of accessories, books, candles, cards, journals, luggage and women’s novelty items.
Through it all, I’ve gone far and wide with my retail options. I first opened my business with a shoe store in the salon, which went well, but I didn’t want to devote that much space to storing the shoes. We also had a denim bar but now we don’t sell anymore soft textiles other than lingerie.
Owners: Robert and Giovanna Duque
Established: Circa 1995
Product line: Phyto
Average price for cut, dry, style: $85
Family members involved in the business: 12 or more; it changes.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of working with your family?
As a traditional Italian family, we share a similar work ethic. Our cultural mentality dominates how we do everything. If we are ever in a heated argument as a family we usually solve it with a roundtable discussion … and sometimes we have to reconvene to really let it go.
However, it all boils down to being responsible to the customer. We have provided our community with consistent good customer service. Today, I think there is a huge issue with work ethic. Sometimes you will see hairdressers answering their cell phones over clients, but for me, that’s not acceptable behavior. If a client buys my time they will get 100 percent of my time. As a family we believe these same things.
Other than exploring different retail options, how is your business different from other salons?
Our family plays it straight. We are honest with our clientele and we are very committed to delivering them results. However, if something will not work, we are honest and tell them it’s not going to turn out exactly the way they want. We are very committed to delivering results but at the same time we are not going to give up the fun.