Rolling up for a short, back and sides at a salon not dominated by women in foils talking about their boyfriends has caught the imagination of the male client as reported by new ISBN member, 18|8 Fine Men’s Salons. Barbering is back en vogue but the crew at 18|8 don’t believe men are happy to compromise on style or service. They want it all, and why not?
Orange County-based salon group, 18|8 Fine Men’s Salon, has made the most of the new mood of male enfranchisement. Co-founded by branding guru, CEO/CMO, Scott Griffiths and Co-founder, COO- Salon Operations, Ron Love (a well-known face having previously helped build Carlton International into a one of the largest and most prestigious chain of salons in California), 18|8 Fine Men’s Salons was well established long before men’s hairdressing made its comeback.
They opened the first salon in 2002 and spent the next 10 years consolidating and polishing the concept. By 2012, it was ready to grow. And it has. In September 2015 it numbered 53 salons open or in development, with a further additional 320 locations in development. In those three short years it has spread across the country from as far west as Seattle, south to Albuquerque and Atlanta, and east to Long Island, Boston, and Florida.
Scott met Ron back in 1999 when the company he then worked for acquired the Carlton International brand, a portfolio of 33 salons. With his background of creating and building prestige brands across various categories – Crystal Cruises, Nokia, Vertu, Mitch for Men (Paul Mitchell’s Men’s brand), House of Blues and Semester at Sea – and Ron’s in-depth knowledge of the hairdressing industry, they were confident they could create a super-brand. They spent time researching the market and then the proverbial light bulb moment happened. Why not create an all-male concept with the same level of service expected from a top woman’s salon?
The proposition is simple, and focuses on giving men an up-market premium experience…on the terms that fully respect and appreciate men’s needs. Each stylist has a generous semi-private station with backwash where they deliver a wide range of services. It helps cultivate a more intimate experience for the guest so he’s comfortable buying into any of the extra services, nicely coined as ‘up-helps’, such as a MAN-icure or color blending.
Love and Griffiths have driven the team to promoting and selling franchise licenses at an impressive rate, whilst developing their own product lines and investing heavily in training to ensure the teams at every location offer consistently the same uncompromisingly high level of care and styling. Alongside polishing off those classic barbering techniques, new recruits are also given lessons that wouldn’t be out of place in an up-market private members club in London, such as good conversation topics, how to pour a decent pint of beer and even how to shake hands confidently (you’ll get no limp handshakes at 18|8).
The result is premium/prestigious male centric services. Where guest experience is a priority, matched together with exquisite styling and good-natured banter at its heart.