NEW YORK — Bumble and bumble has buzzed into the trendy Meatpacking District, complete with a just-opened salon, new corporate headquarters and Bumble and bumble University, an educational facility.

Dubbed the House of Bumble and bumble, the digs encompass six floors of an eight-story building at 415 West 13th Street, and utilize 40,000 square feet of space to accommodate the company’s growing needs, which went beyond a new salon location.

“I didn’t feel the need for [just] a salon but the need for a building to house our business,” said Michael Gordon, president and founder of Bumble and bumble, who explained the new space is intended to be a “university first and salon second.”

Though executives declined to comment, industry sources estimate the project cost approximately $10 million to complete.

The concept for the House of Bumble was conceived three years ago and took about a year and a half to complete, Gordon said, adding that Selldorf Architects crafted the building’s exterior and Anderson Architects highlighted the interior’s enormous amount of natural light and unobstructed views.

Bumble and bumble, which is owned by the Estée Lauder Cos., is different from other salons in that it has a very successful hair care line attached to it, one that, in combination with its flagship on 146 East 56th Street, is estimated by industry sources to generate $60 million in sales for 2004. The new Meatpacking District salon is expected to generate as much as $5 million in sales in its first year, sources said. Gordon pointed out that most successful hair care lines “are not related to a salon — they are more marketing and sales enterprise [oriented].”

Many of Bumble’s hair care customers are salon owners themselves, who also rely on the company for its educational seminars. “For them having a place to literally look up to and to be schooled by and mentored by is terribly important. Education for hairdressers is very hard to find,” Gordon said. Prior to the Meatpacking District location, Bumble and bumble University didn’t have a campus: it held business classes at the Hudson and W hotels, and conducted hair-focused classes at its uptown salon.The university provides training to salon owners and managers, as well as stylists. While students can take classes to improve skills in cutting, color and styling, they are also taught to manage and expand their business, recruit staff and manage a profit-and-loss sheet. Basically, the programs are designed to teach students how to manage their salon’s employees and operations without changing their establishment’s identity. The students invited to attend classes are Bumble and bumble network salon members — of which there are about 1,600 — who sell the company’s products.

The third floor of the House of Bumble is devoted to education and houses a 103-seat multimedia theater where business classes, demonstrations and screenings will take place. The outside wall of the theater also serves as a gallery displaying a multitude of black-and-white photos, shot by Gordon himself, highlighting work by Bumble and bumble stylists such as Dennis Lanni, Laurent Philippon, Raymond McLarenmany and Jimmy Paul. There’s also a library and dining room, as well as classrooms, an agency for Bumble’s editorial stylists and additional lounge space.

Bumble and bumble corporate offices are on the fourth and fifth floors and house the sales, accounting, finance, education operations, information services, product development, marketing, public relations, design, media and human capital departments.

The training salon, located on the sixth floor, offers students experience in cutting, styling and color.

The salon occupies the seventh floor and features 16 white leather chairs facing a window for a view of the Hudson River. There is also a hair coloring area and the “Indulgence Zone,” which offers manicures, pedicures and waxing services — a first-time offering from the company, which will open in the summer.

“The salon was full the first week we were open. People were trying to book weeks in advance, and even more exciting was that client questionnaires were glowing,” Gordon said. “Clients commented on things from the redesign of our custom robes to practically every detail of the whole experience.”

The eighth — and top — floor, is said to look like an airplane hanger, and houses a cafe, check-in area and reception lounge, as well as the Bumble and bumble shop, which is the location’s retail space.Gordon noted he is not looking to significantly expand the company’s hair care distribution but instead hopes to influence a smaller number of salons “in a much more meaningful way. We don’t want to widen [distribution] too much but we definitely want to give [salons] more.” One such offering will be a hair treatment line due out this fall. “We’ve got a lot of exciting ideas for different areas, and retail-wise salons are sort of undiscovered gems. You have the ability to touch someone’s hair for half an hour to three hours and they fully expect you to be an expert and advise them on what they should or shouldn’t use. That’s a much newer thing and retail is still pretty primitive in salons. It’s one of the odd places where you actually go have a service and be instructed.”

— Kristin Finn

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