Located in the heart of London’s buzzing Soho, SALON 64, created by Ricky Walters, is a luxury salon destination changing the way their clients experience salon treatments.
With a member’s club ethos, fresh salon aesthetic and an innovative approach to customer service, we think you’ll find this month’s ‘salon design of the month’ no less than intriguing. Here, we chat to Ricky to discover more about his salon.
Tell us more about how SALON 64 started?
Having spent a large portion of my career managing salons for other people I always felt it was something I could do for myself. At 21 I joined a five star London hotel where after one year of working as a stylist at Daniel Galvin in the Corinthia I wrote a business plan and left it on the desk of the hotel manager with a post-it note claiming to take the salon to the next level.
It soon became apparent I had a knack for kick starting new businesses and salons into profitable operations. Five years later I put pen to paper and wrote yet another business plan to seek further investment for a brand new idea and concept never before seen. Two of my loyal clients agreed to invest in this exciting project and SALON64 was created.
How does SALON 64 stand out from its competitors?
Without a doubt the reaction for those who first stumble across SALON64 is that they have never seen anything like it. No matter how much you try and jazz it up, for me salons still look like salons. Whether you have a book case with an empty vase sitting in reception or a designer brick wall in the background, the set up has remained the same. Mirror, chair, mirror, chair, mirror, chair.
SALON64 is a brand new concept never before created elsewhere. A social hub where patrons are able to meet, greet and work without needing a hairdresser to even look at them. A home away from home more closely related to the traits of a member’s club than a hair salon. We have a different way of thinking and look at the way we can solve problems within the industry by constantly questioning all we take for granted to push the industry forward into new, unseen territory,
How did you decide upon the aesthetic of the salon? What inspired you?
At the heart of everything we do is the client in mind and it is exactly this that inspired me to create the salon in the way we did. Clients are constantly asking the same questions that had gone unanswered for years.
1) Do you have a phone charger? From just listening to this simple request, 2 phone charging ports are placed in absolutely every section within the salon. Easily reachable for the client and being a USB charging point does not interfere with the hairdresser or workspace and is an added luxury the clients are craving. We even have clients just popping in for a drink and to recharge their devices!
2) Can I stay and do my makeup in the mirror? Another question I would hear time and time again that clearly needed to be solved. Today’s clients have absolutely nowhere to get themselves ready! Ladies getting changed in disabled toilets, completing makeup on the commute into work, peering into tiny hand held mirrors all seems ancient. This was the inspiration behind our getting ready bars. Your dressing room table in the heart of Soho!
3) Can my friend come with me for a chat while I have my colour done? Today’s clients don’t have time to lounge about a hair salon reading an out of date magazine when they haven’t spoken to good friends for weeks due to a hectic work life balance. The high street is changing and so should salons to create a more social experience where clients are able to bring in as many companions as they wish without it being awkward.
Mirrors, hairdressing equipment, storage, layout was all investigated and redeveloped in order to make a solution. It is for this reason our mirrors and work stations are completely transformable, with the skill of slight of hand from one of the SALON64 team the salon you see before you is quickly made into a coffee table with an atmospheric fire at the heart and perfect for socialising as many friends as you wish.
Listening to all the questions clients have and monitoring their behaviour and habits, its the inspiration behind how SALON64 came to life. However, the story does delve a little deeper and not a lot of people know the reason why we are called SALON64.
In 1764 it was the first time the word salon was introduced to the world. Not how we picture them today but a living room within a French mansion where the elite were invited by the owners before dinner to powder one’s nose, discuss tales of the day, and prepare themselves before being then invited down to dinner.
It is this very concept we wish to bring back to life but for the 21st century trendsetter. A place to prepare yourself before a great evening ahead of you or to indulge in the luxury of having an expert do it for you in a home away from home, club like environment.
How does SALON 64 keep up to date with the latest trends within the industry?
The catwalk is often the inspiration behind any long term trend hitting the hair world. Looking past the hair walking down the runway you will see the trends of the clothes being warned and very quickly see certain styles being revived.
The 90’s look coming back to life through the fashion industry is a prime example and now seeing that feeding through to hairstyles. With a lot of male celebs sporting the new revamped curtains. The team and myself try to take this one step further by taking inspiration from nature and architecture and blur the lines between all three. I encourage the team to not just look at other areas in the industry but seek our own identity and push to become trendsetters ourselves. This is very much reflected within the look and feel as of the salon itself.
What do you think makes a successful salon?
Consistency and innovation.
The ability to deliver results not just once but every time. This leaves you with a high client retention rate, which is crucial to the commercial aspect of any salon. This married with innovation – the ability to think outside the box and create something never before excites your target market and gets them through the door in the first place. Using the rule of consistency and innovation through everything we do at SALON64 is very quickly proving popular with our clients and also peers within the industry.
What is Salon64’s biggest achievement to date?
From countless articles in prestigious titles such as Vogue, Evening Standard, Harpers Bazaar and Forbes magazine to name a few, to members of our SALON64 family being asked to style hair backstage at Paris fashion week in a very short amount of time we have accomplished a lot.
My personal biggest achievement is watching customers using the space correctly. When someone walks in, orders a drink and already knows the bar counter lifts up to reveal a dressing room table, plug in their phone to charge, and order their drink while doing their makeup for an evening ahead. It’s the best feeling to see this vision come to life right before your eyes and is a massive accomplishment for myself and the entire SALON64 brand and team.
What advice can you give to other salon owners wanting to open a salon?
“Trust your gut.” Advice given to me often and without a doubt something that is overlooked when starting a business and searching for advice. If your gut thinks it’s a good idea, good business decision or for any other reason then it normally is a good idea. Opening a salon is of course a lot of hard work and requires effort round the clock. Luckily it doesn’t feel like work at all and I am personally without a doubt addicted to it all!
How do you think social media has impacted business?
Instagram is one of our main platforms for gaining new clients and vital for any salon at any stage of the business. It’s free advertising! We find ourselves being recommended, tagged and just asked for hair advice all via social media. Not only this a huge following of ours in addition to new and existing clients are other hairdressers! This gives us a massive platform to be trendsetters within the industry and leave our mark and brand throughout!
What can we expect from you in 2018 and beyond?
This is just the start of what we have planned for SALON64. A game changer in the world of salons, we plan to extend this way of thinking to al aspects of hairdressing. Products, multiple branches, all with our ethos of innovation as well as some top secret ideas yet to surface.
SALON 64 Photos by Francesco Russo