Hairstylist Ted Gibson is closing his namesake New York salon, effective today.
“It is really about the luxury experience and what’s really happening in our world is that luxury experience is changing,” said Gibson, who charges $1,500 for a haircut. People are “looking to go with something that’s a little bit more intimate when they’re paying that top dollar.”
The 13-year-old, 2,500-square-foot space in Manhattan’s Flatiron district is a victim of not just changes in the luxury space, but changes in the salon space as well. The Millennial attitude has taken a particular toll, with multiple walkouts from hairstylists. While it used to be important for up-and-coming stylists to align themselves with a big name until they were established themselves, the Millennial generation uses social media for that, frequently using booth rental salons, which are also taking hold in New York, to run their businesses. At Gibson’s salon, the first walkout — 11 people — happened six years in. The second was four years after that, and the latest — five people — was in September.
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“It’s hard for a small business to take that kind of hit,” said Jason Backe, Gibson’s husband and business partner. But all those walkouts caused the pair, who immediately then focused on auditions for Gibson’s Artist Team and presenting at Intercoiffure, to realize that a shift was necessary. “That’s what started the process for us to think differently about ‘what is Ted Gibson salon,'” Backe said.
“Gen X before, career was one of the top priorities in their life — they lived to work,” Backe said. “If you didn’t have a great career it meant you’re not a successful person. One of the biggest shifts with Millennials is they work to live. They want to be able to create their own schedules…the way that they work is different. If we want to be attractive to that generation, then we need to be inspiring to them.”
While the Flatiron location is closing, Gibson and Backe are still focused on the rest of their business lines — including a not-yet-launched product line, for which they are looking for investors, that contains actual stardust — powder from meteorites. They will also continue the Ted Gibson Advanced Academy and working with Gibson’s artistic team, which travels for hair shows and with celebrities.
And those Hollywood jobs are still rolling in — recently, he’s tamed the locks of everyone from Anne Hathaway to Angelina Jolie to Lupita Nyong’o and Gabrielle Union.
The shuttering of his Flatiron location does not signal the end of Gibson’s salon career, he said — and he plans to open a different salon concept in mid-2017, in a to-be-determined Manhattan neighborhood. The existing location had 16 stations and six sinks — a future one would likely pare that down to three to five chairs, Gibson said.
“Our whole idea of an 18-20 chair salon is kind of like a dinosaur,” Backe said. “We want to be ahead of the curve.”
“It’s really about a boutique kind of idea,” Gibson said, adding that the W Hotels and other boutique operations that were more curated may serve as inspiration for a new outpost.
“We see it all over in every industry in the world — everyone is trying to come up with a new idea to run their businesses, and as leaders in the salon world and the beauty world, we are hearing what’s happening,” Gibson said, “and we’ve got the balls to do something,” Backe added.
“We want to take the next level of luxury in a salon experience to the next level,” Gibson said. “And we want to be leaders in our industry for helping our industry redefine what that means,” Backe said.