Elise Cheval Galluzzo, salon owner.
Years in business: two and a half
Number of employees: 8
Product lines: Bumble and bumble
Most popular service: Cut and color
Average client ticket: $90
Elise Cheval Galluzzo
, owner of Salon Cheval in Whittier,
California, is not a hairdresser. Her background is in marketing
and retail, but all her life she was the one who wanted
to do everyone's hair. Fascinated by the art of hairdressing,
she opened a salon never losing sight of the importance
of personal expression. To hone and stretch the staff's creative
energy, the entire team plans and executes frequent,
themed photo shoots.
ST: Why did you decide to engage
your staff in photo shoots?
ECG: I'm sure if you ask most stylists why
they wanted to become a hairdresser, their
reply wouldn't be "Because I am passionate
about covering gray roots and cutting A-line
bobs." Of course, creating great looks for
our clients is our number one passion and
we all appreciate a precise bob. But, doing
the same services day after day can weigh
down a stylist's creative talents. We have to
remember we came into the industry as artists
wanting to express ourselves creatively.
Our stylists are passionate about the craft
itself but if they don't get the opportunity
to express themselves as artists, they can
eventually lose that passion and creativity.
ST: How did the staff respond when
you suggested this project and how
do you choose the themes?
ECG: It actually was a group idea. We all
watch Shear Genius and love to discuss the
challenges presented on the show and how
we would have executed them differently
and, in our opinion, better. We all just figuredâ¦
let's give it a shot.
The shoots are a great educational and
team-building opportunity. Our educational
classes are mandatory. Participation in the
photo shoots is optional, but so far, it has
been 100 percent. Each stylist looks
forward to the challenge and the
excitement of working together. Our
theme inspirations have included
editorial spreads from Italian Vogue
and "Timeless," a shoot inspired by
a Bumble and bumble University
class that examined the influence of
past decades on today's hair styles.
ST: How costly are the shoots
and how do you secure supporting
talent and studio
ECG: This is where a team effort really
pays off. Obviously, hair and make-up
are done by the Salon Cheval staff. We are
fortunate to have a large and spacious salon
with a 2,000-square-foot styling floor. We
are able to set up separate areas for backdrops
and scenes. The staff is happy to
give up free time for the shoots and bring
along personal items that fit the theme. We
have borrowed guitars, bikes and furniture
from each other. I am a photographer and I
shoot and edit all the photos. I know what
each stylist's vision is and I try to capture
that. Friends and clients are happy to get
onboard as models.
ST: How do you let your clients and
the community know about your
ECG: As soon as the photos are complete
we e-mail them to our clients and post them
on our Facebook page. Our "Timeless" shoot
was a competition among the staff, so our
clients got to go to our website and vote in for
their favorite time period represented in the
shoot. This lets clients do more than admire
our work. They also become participants.
The photos from our shoots are blown
up to poster size with the stylist's name and
are displayed in the salon. Now, almost 90
percent of the art displayed in our salon is
in-house work. It's gratifying to see people
admire the work done by our staff. Since some
of our models are also clients, they enjoy
seeing themselves on the walls of the salon.
ST: Have the photo shoots translated
into increased business for the
ECG: When people check out our website,
they can tell we have a passion for the craft
and maintain that as the main focus of our
business. People feel like they have connected
with us before they even enter the
salon, and this has translated into new clients.
The photo shoots also keep the staff
united and inspired, and they nurture personal
development in each stylist and in myself.
The photo shoots and the resulting images
show that we love what we do, and people
want to be a part of that culture.
90 percent of the art displayed is in-house work.