Want to set up your own hairdressing salon? From the reception and conversations to design, Salon Emotion programme, music, seats and bathrobes, Olivier Lebrun, a hair stylist who has opened his first hairdressing and care salon in Paris, gave FAB his 13 essential tips to designing a salon.
A Different Concept For Paris
Olivier Lebrun: I wanted to do the opposite of the traditional salon, but also to develop a concept other than that of the “apartment” salons, which are also very common in Paris… Some, like David Mallet’s, are actually really beautiful. I was blessed to be able to use a prestigious address, which was also compatible with my budget. Olab is located in Paris’s first district, in a central location, very close to public transport. This is really what persuaded me in my choice.
An Intimate Place
O.L.: I wanted it to be a hidden place, both for the clients and for the hairdressers – they can’t be seen from the street. In fact, the hairdressers can dress however they want, without having to wear a uniform. This is an influence from my studio work: we come as we want, with our personalities, and that is also something that the clients are look for.
A Green & Minimalist Design
O.L.: Before Olab, this place was home to a notary archive. I decided to do some major cleaning: I removed everything on the walls until I got a “blank canvas”. We looked at the space and thought about what suited us. It had to reflect the services that we were going to provide. I wanted a very simple location in which hairdressers and clients could feel good. I didn’t want a boudoir or a cocoon, so that each woman might be able to find herself in this decoration. In this way, it’s very minimalist, because I consider the hairstyle, and not the decoration, to be the star of the show. I chose a very graphic, black and white decoration, a bit like the Cotton Club, but very free. It’s important that hairdressers feel good in the space because it affects their work. On the walls, there are two photos that represent my view of hair, and that’s it! We don’t impose a decoration on women.
O.L.: I chose materials that are easy to maintain: a white tile floor with a parking paint and cement tiles in the lavatories.
O.L.: Olab Paris is a place where you can spend some time. I’m a studio hairdresser and my job is to achieve all possible hairstyles. I like it when girls come in with a model taken from a magazine, to think about a makeover. So, my services take time. This is why I use easy-to-move furniture. We put our materials on trolleys, like the ones used by photographers in their studios. We can also move the mirrors, which aren’t fixed to the walls, and set up shop wherever we want. We can start a hairstyle in the corner and finish the coloring at the front of the salon, for example.
A Reception At The Back
O.L.: It’s a mistake to welcome clients behind a counter at the front of the salon. I placed my reception at the back, so that the women who arrive in the salon are immediately plunged into the location. Actually, we come greet them at the door, but not behind a counter. Sometimes, we also take them back to the street: we cross the courtyard with them.
A Privileged Space For Discussion
O.L.: We thought a lot about setting up true meaningful exchanges with the clients. We don’t talk about the hairstyle behind them, in front of the mirror. The most important moment is when we choose what we are going to do: we discuss it, face-to-face, on a sofa, with a tea or a coffee. This is the moment when a real relationship is created, which can’t exist if we sit down and put on a gown right away.
Seats, Not Traditional Salon Chairs
O.L.: We tried super luxurious chairs costing $15,000 (€13,000) each, which even let you lie down. But in the end, I really thought it was hard to feel comfortable in them. We didn’t want traditional salon chairs. We chose seats with a fairly low backrest so that the women sit up straight, which is very important. We also added a small cushion for comfort.
Less Time At The Basin
O.L.: We do very little work at the basin. We offer most of our services seated next to the clients: we provide our care to dry hair. Shampooing is always unpleasant: you’re lying down, you have water in your ears, you can’t hear anything, you always end up stretching your neck too much… It’s more pleasant to do as much as possible sitting down, quietly.
O.L.: Of course, we took care of the details: we chose non-scratching towels. We got vintage Japanese kimonos (in a single color: black!). They wrap around very well and bring a kind of cocooning softness to care, even on an armchair. The crew necks also fit very well, so no hairs make it to the neck and the gowns make them slide down to the floor so as to avoid covering the clients with them.
The Location’s Green Signature
O.L.: I really wanted to have a centerpiece that gave the location its signature. I chose a plant wall, placed in front of the bins. It’s very relaxing and it also represents the type of services I provide: I use ultra-green, plant-based preparations. I first looked on Instagram to get a sense of the amount and type of materials that I would need, and it’s a landscape artists (Roots Landscapes) who created it. It doesn’t require any maintenance!
No Musical Identity
O.L.: We thought a lot about the issue of our sound signature, but again, we decided not to impose anything on women. In the morning, the first person to arrive chooses the music. And customers can connect their iPhones to the speakers. So it’s tailor-made!
Bonus: A Studio For Shoots
O.L.: The bonus is my secret studio upstairs, where I can do photoshoots and make videos for Instagram. My idea was that the place can be open to all hairdressers who feel good in it and want to enjoy it. It’s an open location: a hairdresser based in Miami will come to Olab Paris one week per month, starting in September. This kind of collaboration is really what I’m looking for, because it brings new energy, like a photoshoot.