The Evolution of the SALON TODAY 200 Cover

One of the most challenging, yet rewarding, aspects of assembling the SALON TODAY 200 issue is designing the cover each year. It’s a bit of a jigsaw brainteaser, and when it finally falls together, you can hear a sigh of relief run through the SALON TODAY team. I’m here to give you a little inside look at the process.

About a decade ago, we made an executive decision to stop shooting models for the ST200 covers and started featuring the honorees themselves. Since it’s logistically impossible to gather owners from around the country in November/December and organize a group photoshoot, we rely on the talents of Art Director Himanshu Suthar to create a montage cover of portrait-style images that were submitted with the applications back in August.

Before that happens though, Editorial Coordinator Joyce Alverio, the organizational wizard behind this entire competition, creates a master file of all images submitted with the year’s applications and pages and pages of contact sheets so we can easily look through the stacks thumbnail size images.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Portraits of owners who are current honorees but have never been featured on a SALON TODAY 200 cover.
  • Portraits that were professionally shot.
  • Full body or three-quarter body shots, preferably shot against a white, black or plain backdrop.

Then, we start playing with our options. How do the body poses fit together? Do we have a nice balance of men/women, single owners and couples? Do our owners represent different areas around the United States and/or Canada? Do our owners represent salon companies of different sizes? Different manufacturers? Different ST200 categories?

Simultaneously, we’ll decide on an ST200 main color and accent color for both the cover and the pages. In 2015, we borrowed our color, Marsala, from the just revealed Pantone Color of the Year. We’ve continued that tradition and each December eagerly await Pantone’s announcement. In 2016, it was a duo of colors Rose Quartz and Serenity, followed by Greenery in 2017, and Ultra Violet last year. Right before this year’s announcement, I told our Production Manager Debbie Ogilvie that some year we might have to abandon this trend. “What if they picked an orange for the color of the year – with all the black attire our owners wear, that would make the cover look like Halloween!” I said.

My guess wasn’t far off—the 2019 Color of the Year is Living Coral. We lucked out though as it’s a pinkish coral shade of orange that looks lovely with black without mimicking the October holiday—so the tradition continues.

Finally, before we ship the issue off to press, I double-check the spelling of all the honorees and the salon names that are featured on this cover. Sometimes, I take it an extra step and consult your websites, looking for the team profiles to make sure we have an interesting spelling correct. I did that this year, and discovered one of our cover models (I won’t say who!) misspelled their own name wrong when typing up their application.

Now that you know how the cover comes together, let me introduce you to the lucky honorees who grace this year’s cover:

From top, left clockwise we have:

Kati Whitledge, owner of Be Inspired Salon, Inc., in Madison Wisconsin. This year, Be Inspired picks up honors in Growth, Employee Education, Retention and Referral and Technology.

Shawn McGhee and Scot Robinson, owners of Pavo Salon Spa in Memphis, Tennessee. Pavo picks up 2019 ST200 honors in Technology, Philanthropy and Retail and Merchandising.

Nina Childers, owner of Bella Salon and Spa in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. Bella Salon and Spa picks up honors in Growth.

Bonnie Conte, owner of Avalon Salon Spa in Deer Park, Illinois. Avalon picks up honors in Customer Service, Compensation & Benefits, Philanthropy and Salon Culture.

And, Jill Higginbotham, Jerry Plappert and Carrie Minotti, owners of J Michael’s Spa and Salon in Louisville, Kentucky. J Michael’s picks up honors in Growth.

Congratulations to all the 2019 honorees, and I wish all the SALON TODAY 200 a prosperous and rewarding New Year.

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