Salon Marketing Masters: The Niche MarketerThe Niche Marketer
Stacey Weinstein carves her niche out of the bridal business, seizing a healthy slice of the Big Apple.

And they lived beautifully ever after ... that's the intent anyway of the bevy of make-up artists and hair stylists that work through Stacey Weinstein's agency, Once Upon A Bride. The concept launched more than 10 years ago as Weinstein serviced a number of brides at a salon where she worked, building up a reputation for doing beautiful, healthy hair.
Gradually, Weinstein gathered a roster of 12 hair and make-up artists, many of whom cater to celebrities and television star , whose work was similar to hers and who had the same amount of passion. "When you're creating the look for the most special day in a client's life, you develop a very different relationship. There's a level of intensity," she says. "I'll be in their wedding albums for the rest of their lives."

Weinstein matches brides to professionals through her New York-based salon Loft 26. The process starts with a phone interview.
"First, we make sure the bride's wedding date is available, then we talk about her hair's characteristics and needs and her daily routine. Then we discuss her wedding day goals and her budget," says Weinstein. "Then I decide which hair and make-up artists will best meet her needs."

The next step is the trial process, where the selected artists meet with the bride and really flesh out her wedding day look. "We talk about the dress, the flowers, the time of year and location of the wedding, and what her vision is," she explains. Then the stylist typically gives the bride three looks-one that addresses the vision agreed upon by the artist and bride and two additional options.
Then the make-up artist meets with the bride, discussing skin type and issues, desired wedding day look and the location and time of year. She first creates a soft, natural option using airbrush make-up, then she gives the bride options that are more smoky and sultry.
After the trial, Weinstein holds the date and gives the bride two weeks to make a decision about the agency. Brides who commit sign a contract that details the wedding day timeline and pay 50 percent of the services upfront.

While each of these salon pros takes a unique approach to marketing, all have earned their black belts.

Salon Marketing Masters: The Niche Marketer

Karate, Judo, Kempo, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu-these represent a small handful of the different disciplines among the martial arts. Similarly, there are scores of ways for salon businesses to approach marketing-while one owner may choose one path to success, another may find their victory on a very different road. Black belts are acquired when owners gamble just the right amount on a campaign, choose a strategy that embraces their culture and enhances their brand, and succeed in fully engaging the support of their staff and the attention of their customers.

We've identified five marketing masters and dubbed them with our own titles-the Retail Queen, the Media Darling, the Digital Diva, the Promo Man and the Niche Marketer. While their approaches are drastically different, they all tackled their marketing missions with heart and determination, carving their own place in a difficult marketplace.

The Retail Queen, Inez Gray
The Media Darling, Kim Vo
Digital Diva, Aura Mae
The Promo Man, John Donato
The Niche Marketer, Stacey Weinstein
Once Upon A BrideLoft 26
New York, New York

Owner: Stacey Lyn Weinstein
Average number of bridal parties per year: 125
Pricing: Trial: $150 hair; $150 make-up
Bride service on wedding days:
Pro: $350 hair; $350 make-up
Expert: $350 hair; $350 make-up  
Master: $600 hair; $600 make-up
Total cost per wedding: up to $5,000
Range: Once Upon A Bride serves the five NYC boroughs, as well as Long Island, New Jersey and Westchester County. Artists also have traveled outside the area.
Percentage of brides retained as salon clients: 50 percent
Marketing: Weinstein advertises in bridal magazines and online, and develops relationships with wedding planners.

At the trial session, both stylists and make-up artists discuss hair and skin issues with the bride, determining goals and setting up a regimen that helps her meet those goals on the big day. Does the bride have thinning hair, dry hair, overprocessed hair? Does she have acne, dry skin or rosacea?
Hair needs are addressed through a program of Phytologie-based hair treatments and take home products from the salon's l'espace phyto-a dedicated, interactive retail space that features modern, transparent shampoo dispensers and the Phyto scope, used to give clients a customized Rx and a better understanding of their needs.

"The average bride commits to three hair treatments at $120 to $160 a piece and takes home products," says Weinstein. "Each of the treatments comes with a blowout, so we often schedule the service to coincide with other big dates leading up to the wedding, such as an engagement party or shower."
The make-up artist and an esthetician help the bride determine her skin care goals and help plan a regimen of skin care treatments. "Our skincare goals are to take what you have and make it beautiful, rather than masking problems with make-up," says Weinstein. "Then we create beautiful skin with our Environ and Bioelements products, LED therapy and light vitamin peels."

Salon Marketing Masters: The Niche MarketerFor the big day, Weinstein meticulously schedules the appointments for the bride and the designated wedding party, providing the bride with a master schedule to eliminate chaos and create a sense of calm. Hair and make-up artists arrive 30 minutes early, eliminating any traffic issues and allowing time to set up. An hour is booked for the bride's hair and an hour for her make-up, and 40 minutes each for hair and make-up are booked for all bridal party members.
"I usually schedule the bride as the second to the last appointment, which allows her a chance to unwind and enjoy the process, but provides ample time for her to get dressed and ready for pre-ceremony portraits. Weinstein will book up to seven services (one bride plus six attendants) for each artist.
"In addition to having talent, these artists must be patient, have no ego, but a lot of confidence-that's so important because that confidence is transferred to the bride," she says. "They also should be passionate about bridal services-they have to be because it doesn't pay as well as the commercial editorial work they are used to doing. But it's deeply gratifying to be an integral part of someone's biggest day."
A lasting relationship typically develops between Weinstein and her brides at her second business, Loft 26.
"Often they'll come to the salon after the ceremony to get their hair cut short, and they'll come back in for additional treatments or to have their hair styled for other events," she says. "We're picking up new clients all the time."

Although some of Once Upon A Bride contract artists perform services at the salon, most of the brides transfer to one of salon's regular stylists. "Many of the artists don't work in the salon, but that fits the mentality of the bride-for that day she wants a specialist," says Weinstein.

The Retail Queen, Inez Gray
The Media Darling, Kim Vo
Digital Diva, Aura Mae
The Promo Man, John Donato
The Niche Marketer, Stacey Weinstein

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