The New Definition of Full Service at Hair & Co BKLYN
On the garden wall of Hair & Co BKLYN’s first location in a New York suburb, there is a mural of Sydney King, the child who inspired a new type of hair salon. It was Sydney, born to a Black dad and white mom, who prompted her parents to act on a long-held belief that salons should and must cater for all hair types from highly textured to poker straight.
Something for everyone
“We wanted to create a space where our bi-racial daughter could be comfortable getting her hair done,” says Shannon King, internationally renowned educator and co-founder of Hair & Co BKLYN and Beauty 360 Consulting.
“Hairdressing is still segregated but there’s no reason why it should be. The problem starts early. In schools our stylists are educated to believe they can only do only African-American or Caucasian hair. ”
Shannon’s dad taught him otherwise, showing him hair is a fabric that only needs a different approach depending on its texture. Every stylist has the basic skills to do this, he argued. Having reached 87 years old, Mr. King senior is still a successful hairdresser, working three days a week behind the chair.
Shannon kept those words close and when he met Allyson while they were working together in a Washington DC salon, he realized he’d found someone who shared this vision. They paired up and in 2010 moved to New York when Shannon accepted a corporate role within L’Oréal and Allyson became vice-president of education for Clarins. Sydney was just two years old then. Over the next five years, they became convinced that NY was crying out for a salon that could look after not just bi-racial guests but any hair type.
They were right. Their hugely successful business model, launched in 2015, has now expanded to two locations with a team of 22 highly skilled hairdressers able to answer the demands of any guest.
A shift in the industry
“There is a shift happening demographically, and to build a sustainable, forward-looking business you need to be able to answer that shift – to look after an increasingly diverse clientele,” adds Allyson.
“It is bias rather than lack of skill that stops a salon opening its doors to a wider clientele. But hair is just a fabric and you can look after any type of fabric with practice.”
To ensure their stylists have the skill and, more importantly, the confidence to service any guest, Shannon has designed an education program that builds on the skills they already have. This includes a strong focus on color, as 54% of Hair & Co BKLYN’s business is colourcolor. Both Hair & Co BKLYN locations rely on Vish to limit waste and help their team deliver the best service.
“If you are colouringcoloring various textures, then you really need to understand porosity and texture. Using Vish delivers on the essential record-keeping required to deliver the consistency expected from a luxury salon,” continues Allyson.
“Our charging structure is parts and service, so all colourcolor costs are listed separately on the ticket, which is fair. A guest may come in with a ponytail straight down her back and yet still need less colourcolor than someone with much shorter hair that is denser and more porous. Vish identifies the amount used down to the gram, passing the costs on to the front of house to add to the ticket.”
Vish also enables the team to share formulas and knowledge, allowing them to tweak existing formulas to suit a different guest, without wasting product or risking the end result.
Hair & Co BKLYN’s multi-racial facing business works because Shannon and Allyson have built their teams’ confidence in themselves, and that spills over into their day-to-day approach. Supported by tools such as Vish, they enjoy exploring the potential of every situation so they can deliver better every time.