An interesting duo team up to open a new salon venture.
Lyndhurst, New Jersey

In business: 9 months
Number of employees: 10 stylists and one esthetician
Product lines: Lakme hair color, Beauty Addicts cosmetics, Bio Ionic, Label M

Choosing the Right Partner

Malcolm Sillars, a veteran distributor sales consultant, wanted to put his industry knowledge to work and open his own salon. He combined his business skills with the creative talents of stylist Jan Marie DeDolce and, undeterred by a tough economy, opened the doors of Teeze Salon in Lyndhurst, New Jersey in August 2010.

ST: What made you decide to open your own salon?

MS: "After 14 years as a sales consultant for DePasquale, I had helped a lot of salon owners with design, product selection, education and business training. When my friend Jan Marie De Dolce, a stylist and former salon owner, asked if I had ever thought about opening my own salon, I said I had, many times. After a lot of thought and discussion, we said, ‘let's do it.' Jan has all the technical and creative skills and I have the salon business knowledge. Individually we might not make it, but I like to say that together we are deadly."

ST: Did you buy an existing salon or start from scratch?

MS: "We started from the ground up. I designed the salon from the bare walls working with an architect and contractor. I knew exactly what I wanted-a New York SoHo feel in the suburban town of Lyndhurst. I had a lot of experience helping salon owners design spaces and furnish them and I was able to work out exactly the effect I wanted in design and decor. For example, we have curved walls between stations giving clients more privacy. We carefully considered all the elements of design and color in our reception area, the color bar, lather lounge and spa and spray tan rooms.

I selected Lyndhurst for our location because, although it is a middle class community, it is expanding and becoming a more trendy New York commuter town. The demographic here is accustomed to New York City style, and we promise our clients that we will deliver that same level of talent and service. I spent a long time negotiating a good lease and even met with the mayor of the town. I ultimately obtained a great 10-year lease."

ST: How did you promote a new salon in this tough economy?

MS: "We opened in August, and in September we were paying all the bills and the business was growing. We keep our services priced so that we never price a client out of the salon. We have established a European styling level system at Teeze. This makes our pricing flexible depending on the stylist's artistic level.

We never stop designing new promotions. We print 4x6 inch cards that are distributed in local shops and restaurants. We created a promotion that looked like a traffic ticket and distributed them at the local police station to offer discounts to police officers. The promotional cards all show off our salon decor and many feature a photo of one of our stylists on the back or photos introducing Jan Marie and me to prospective clients. They can be redeemed for 15 percent off any visit, $20 hair cuts for men on Tuesdays, a complimentary deep conditioning treatment or blow out, to name a few. We have kitchen facilities in the salon and clients don't believe me until I bring out the cookies I bake myself. We try anything we think will help grow the business.

"We created a beautiful 2011 wall calendar featuring photos of various salon interiors and staff members. Each month has a coupon for a special offer like February's "Show your hair some love" offer for 20-percent off a Macadamia Oil treatment, a July offer on sun care products and a September back to school offer for 20 percent off all blow dryers and irons. You do have to spend money to make money and we are constantly reinvesting in our salon and our clients."

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