Michael Gordon is headed back into the salon business.

This story first appeared in the July 1, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Gordon, who founded Bumble and bumble and sold an interest in it to the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. in 2006 (Lauder acquired Bumble fully in 2006), has become a partner in Cutler Salons, owned by a former protégé of his, Rodney Cutler.

“When I came to this country from Australia, my life changed when I walked into Bumble in 1992,” said Cutler. “It was the mecca of quality hairdressing. When I went out to do my own thing [in 1997], I had a great benchmark.” Cutler went on to open three salons — two in Manhattan and a third in Miami — and create a hair care line, much like his mentor.

For his part, Gordon missed the salon business after selling Bumble to Lauder. While he had other opportunities, Gordon noted that he felt Cutler had the best infrastructure and ideas. “Rodney has always been self-motivated and I know from working with him before that he has a great attitude,” said Gordon. “We balance each other well. He always says how good things are, and I always think we can do better.”

Next on the Cutler agenda: tapping into Gordon’s education and product development strengths. “Michael built Bumble and bumble University into the gold standard of salon education,” said Cutler. “We want to ramp up our education program, to make a real commitment to educating salon professionals.”

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Gordon noted that he is also taking a top to bottom look at the salons, from customer service to products. “We will introduce more visual inspiration, address training from customer service to styling and strengthen what we have before we decide what to do next,” said Gordon.

He and Cutler are already in the product labs as well, and plan a redesign and revamp of the Cutler product line. The salons will continue to partner with the L’Oréal USA-owned Redken. Additional salon locations are possible, but they aren’t on the immediate agenda, said Cutler. “We want to tighten up and make what we already have the best first,” he said.

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