There is no need to be metrosexual or a “beauty boy” to be a man and to want to take care of yourself. Following the model of Baxter of California, beauty in general is entering into a new era, offering full treatment packages to men. In Paris, the Bonhomme salon welcomes men to come in for a haircut, to trim their beards, take advantage of a treatment or even have a manicure and pedicure. Just a few months after opening, this masculine salon is a success. Owner Aurélien Bertrand tells FAB his formula for business, a real model.
A Market In Full Flux
We meet Aurélien Bertrand at one of the many cafés on the Rue Saint-Denis in Paris. He is the 32-year-old founder of Bonhomme, the salon next door that never seems to be empty. A motley crew of passers-by are continuously walking up and down this long and very artificial street. “In 2012 I would just let my beard grow; it was very difficult to find a place to have your beard trimmed at the time. Also, like some other men, I’ve got hair on my back that I have removed, but I could never find a place specifically for men. I didn’t feel comfortable in salons packed with women, and neither did the beautician. So I thought that men needed a place just for them.” At the time, Aurélien, who is a hairdresser, already had a mixed hair salon, Cut(e), on Rue Saint-Denis, and when he saw the sex shop opposite close down, he thought about developing his idea of global beauty for men. “In 2012 the men’s beauty market was not mature enough. At the time, it was even difficult to convince the staff to come and work in a new place. I re-launched the project in 2015. Several barber shops had opened in Paris, and more people were trained in men’s beauty, but even so I had trouble recruiting. These days I get four CVs a week!”
Business Plan: “We Pay Attention To Everything!”
Bonhomme’s grooming for men is set over 200m2 and three floors. Everything here has been thought about and studied.
The place: “Whatever the address [ed. Rue Saint-Denis is pretty centrally located in Paris, in a very diverse neighbourhood] or layout of the premises, this place was for me! I really wanted a place with long corridors, like the old-style American barber shops.”
The design: “Bonhomme had to be authentic with an artisanal touch and a strong sense of heritage. We wanted to exude know-how.” With oak wooden flooring, marble counter-tops and Takara Belmont salon chairs, the floor allocated to the barbers is bathed in a retro-chic ambiance. The leather seats at the hairdressing stations on the ground floor serve as a symbol of the surroundings: masculine and meticulous. The beauty care floor itself is built in the very urban style of a Parisian art déco Metro station.
The lighting: “It has to be warm, providing good light without being too dazzling. The lighting is different in each area.”
The staff: “I like the fact that the men who work at Bonhomme are all from different backgrounds. Among the eight barbers there’s the classic one, the rock one, and even an unabashed suburbanite. It’s a place for men, no matter where you come from or how old you are.”
The clients: “We do not have a particular target audience, but most of our clients fall into the 25-45 age group. We also have quite a few kids since we have a ‘father and son’ package that works pretty well!”
The price range: “€30 for a cut and €30 for a beard trim. We have quite a mid-level price range so that we can be accessible to everyone. We really wanted to be chic without being too expensive. I’ve always thought that you have to provide a service without choking people with the price.”
The music: “The sound design is really important. Often little places have bad walls that produce deafening sound. We spend 10 hours a day within these walls, so our sound is very high quality and the style is varied. We listen to rock, rap, classical or pop music with no problems. I didn’t want the choice of music to be divisive for clients.”
In less than a year, Bonhomme is already profitable.
As the days and weeks went by since it opened in July 2016, Bonhomme’s reservation book filled up. “We achieved our goals pretty quickly. After three months we were no longer losing money, we had reached equilibrium. We need to provide 80 services per week for the business to be profitable. Next September we are opening Bonhomme 2 in Paris, and I am in discussion with two other luxury hotels.”
Long live men’s grooming and the Bonhomme Institute!