NEW YORK — The salon world is abuzz about the two guys from Brooklyn who've made it big.
Edward Tricomi and Joel Warren, business partners for more than 18 years and co-owners of the Warren-Tricomi salons, product business and stylist agency, are sitting at the Palm Court in the still-under-construction Plaza Hotel here, eating breakfast. Despite having been in and out of the New York landmark for the better part of a year overseeing construction on their 6,000-square-foot salon, last Friday was the first time the pair actually broke bread at the famed restaurant. Warren even donned a suit for the occasion.
Over cappuccino, eggs Benedict and yogurt parfait, Warren (a colorist) and Tricomi (a stylist) discussed their plans for the salon, which, coincidentally, is scheduled to open 13 years to the day after their very popular 57th Street outpost opened. There was an economic downturn back when the older salon opened too, they noted.
The Plaza salon, however, won't share many more similarities with the 57th Street unit. The casbah-inspired atmosphere of 57th Street has been replaced by a veritable mix of influences, including late 19th-century architecture, minimalism (the design firm Bonetti/Kozerski Studios LLC in Manhattan has also done all of Donna Karan's outposts) and a "bit of '2001: A Space Odyssey,'" said Tricomi. The 57th Street location is set to close when the new salon opens.
Landing the Dynamic Duo may have been a way to get some rock 'n' roll into the joint. In a city chockablock with celebrity hairstylists, The Plaza surely had its pick of who it wanted to coif its elite guests and residents. Former salon tenants included Oscar Blandi and Pierre Michel, for example.
"They're gonna add the edge to The Plaza," confirmed Anthony Nicola, general manager of The Plaza Retail Collection.
Indeed, edginess has been at the heart of the Warren-Tricomi vibe, but, as the term "brand" became an important part of the business lexicon over the past 10 years, edge has been combined with building a luxury brand.
"Back when we opened 57th Street we represented a different thing. We were more eclectic and arty. We were young and that's what we were feeling then. We have evolved and so has our direction," said Warren.And so the new salon is being designed to reflect a luxury image.
The salon, which will be located on the second floor of The Plaza Retail Collection located at 1 West 58th Street, will boast the first Shu Uemura Art of Hair Institute, a private treatment room tucked inside the salon offering treatments, hair rituals and massages. The space will allow customers to "live the complete ceremony of Shu Uemura" and has been designed by Paris-based architect Christophe Pillet, said Frederique Besson, vice president, general manager, Prestige Professional Brands. The Institute, for example, will offer a 50-minute ceremony, including scalp cleansing and shiatsu massage for $150. There also will be a L'Oréal Professionnel Hair Color Center, complete with a "magic mirror" — a plasma-screen TV that becomes a mirror when not in use. Branding for both initiatives, which reflect the salon's new relationship with L'Oréal USA, will be prominent in their respective areas. Also, Warren-Tricomi will become L'Oréal Professionnel's main flagship Color Center in the country, and has replaced its use of Redken with the more luxury-minded brand's color. Subsequently, Warren has been named a spokesman for the brand and an ambassador for the L'Oréal Professionnel hair color collections.
"It's very consistent with L'Oréal Professionnel to align ourselves with a top-tier salon in the country," said Pierre Lampert, vice president, general manager, L'Oréal Professionnel.
The salon will also offer a Sally Hansen Nail Clinic, where exclusive hand and nail treatments and products by the beauty brand will be offered at the space's two pedicure chairs and three manicure stations. Beginning in the fall, Warren will begin to create color collections of the polishes to correspond with a given season.
A waxing room will also be on hand, and brows will be done in a makeup room.
Giving customers a pure luxury design experience was strategic, too. To reflect the glamour of the Sixties, the salon's entry will be a blast of cream and black, courtesy of light travertine walls, black granite floors and a milk-glass reception desk. Separate check-in and checkout stations will help add flow to the salon, created in part with a feng shui consultant, said Tricomi.The new salon is three levels, with the entrance on the middle floor. The light, natural travertine is also paired with black granite floors in the cut and color sections on the upper level, illuminated by theatrical lighting in an open ceiling. The lower level houses a private VIP cut and color room, which one can access without "ever seeing the inside of the salon." One of the salon's highlights looks to be the Terrace room, which overlooks an extension of the Palm Court and its grand, hand-painted leather ceilings.
Clients can order products from handheld devices provided by the front desk, to be prepared for checkout, as well as to book future appointments. Overall, there are 20 cutting stations and 20 color stations in the salon.
A retail store will offer Warren-Tricomi's many products, including its hair care line, tools, brushes and new hair extensions. Clip-on bangs are said to be the latest must-have item.
The Plaza salon marks the duo's fourth salon (there's one in Greenwich, Conn., one in Los Angeles and one in the Canouan Islands, which operate for about six months out of the year). Aside from the obvious, what makes Warren and Tricomi different from many of their colleagues is that they have bankrolled their growth independently, along with business partner and co-founder, Roxanna Pintilie (a manicurist).
The pair said they got "a good deal" on their rent, but would not elaborate. Industry sources estimated they are paying "in the market of $150 per square foot." But they're not looking to make up for it by jacking up the prices of their salon services. A cut with Tricomi is $300, far less than the $800 colleagues such as Sally Hershberger command.
"We're giving someone what we think it's worth," said Warren.
In addition to their loyal client base, the two are counting on servicing the many weddings-to-be at The Plaza, as well as the residents and guests staying there.
Paying the rent will also be funded by their bustling product business, which kicked off two years ago. The pair said a $1 million order was recently placed with Bath & Body Works, their key retail partner. To promote their items at BBW, the two are planning in-store appearance at various stores across the country, beginning this summer.In an effort toward more national coverage, Warren will hawk their wares on QVC this summer, such as their Strengthener, Style Hair Polish and Style Tension Brush. They also are making inroads in distribution in China and Europe.
"We are moving toward being a global brand," said Tricomi, with the guidance of Scott Woodward, who acts as creative director, and Andrea Diaconescu, their chief marketer.
While it seems a dream has been realized by two guys from Brooklyn, they still don't think they've made it.
"I have never considered that. We don't think on that realm," said Tricomi. "We are privately funded. We are taking all of the risk and hopefully we'll get the reward. But this doesn't feel like much of a gamble."
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