Hairstylist Neil Weisberg and colorist Tracey Cunningham are joining forces to open a new salon called Mèche, a French word meaning “lock of hair” or “highlight,” by November in Beverly Hills.
Cunningham’s last day at Byron & Tracey, which she moved to following three years at Weisberg’s salon Neil George, was May 29, and she is working out of Salon Benjamin for the time being. Weisberg will stay at Neil George until Mèche launches and expects to eventually sell his Neil George shares to partner Amanda George.
“I’ve cried for several times in the past month. It’s very hard,” said Cunningham in May. She initially met Weisberg at the Art Luna Salon in Santa Monica, Calif., where she started in hair. Ultimately, she concluded, “We just wanted to do something together. The space became available, and we decided to fall in love again after a divorce.”
Weisberg and Cunningham’s search for a salon location was quick. They only looked at the 3,000-square-foot space, located at 8820 Burton Way, which has a long history in salons, having been Menage A Trois Coiffeurs and Borelli Salon and Spa. Rodney Ross and Amanda Masters will handle the architecture and interior design, respectively, to turn the space into Mèche, which will have 22 chairs. “It can’t be too frilly,” insisted Cunningham.
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Weisberg acknowledged he and Cunningham aren’t reinventing the wheel with Mèche, but he explained, “Obviously, we want to create something new, not a continuation of Byron & Tracey and Neil George.” That something new isn’t going to be intimidating to potential clients, emphasized Cunningham, who is keen on Mèche having a neighborhood feel. “We’re very friendly people. Neil greets everybody. I talk to everybody. We’re not snotty. We may have celebrity clients, but we are not celebrities,” she said.
Cunningham’s celebrity client list includes Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz, Fergie and Lily Aldridge, whose ombré look is much in demand. She charges $175 and up for base color, and $375 for a half a head. Weisberg charges $275 for a haircut. At Mèche, it is anticipated that highlights will start at $225 and cuts $150.
Weisberg and Cunningham’s partnership in Mèche is 50-50, and they are funding it themselves. Cunningham previously had no ownership stake in Byron & Tracey. Construction costs for the new salon are estimated to total $700,000 to $1 million, and Weisberg projects first-year revenues will be roughly $4.5 million.
Products are certainly among Weisberg and Cunningham’s goals, but Weisberg, who cocreated the Neil George product range, said he’d want to bring on backers before moving forward with a line. Perhaps more likely in the near future are more salons. After Mèche is fully operational, Weisberg and Cunningham are planning to search for partners to spread the concept to other cities, possibly Dallas and San Francisco.
“We want the next Tracey, the next Neil to come out of our salon,” said Cunningham. And so the L.A. saga of shifting salons will undoubtedly continue.