Byline: Andrea M. Grossman

NEW YORK — When Cenzo Balsamo and Pasquale Benesillo, both salon owners, approached mutual friend Larry Feldman with their idea for a hair color chain, at best, they hoped Feldman would respond with an approving nod.
But Feldman, who retired at age 38 after successfully establishing 700 Subway sandwich shops in the Northeastern portion of the United States, was ready for another business venture. Feldman, now 52, readily admits he spent most of his retirement afternoons watching Oprah.
So, after looking over the hair color chain idea, Feldman found he liked it so much, he bought it. “It was kind of like when [Victor Kiam] bought Remington because he liked their shavers,” Feldman said of the well-known leveraged buyout.
Balsamo and Benesillo now serve as consultants for Haircolorxpress, the name for the would-be national hair color chain. Whether it is to achieve as much success as Subway remains to be seen, but Feldman has already stamped out a burgeoning business plan. For an average price of $150,000, a $15,000 franchise fee, as well as a weekly payment of 3 percent of sales for advertising, and a weekly royalty fee of 6 percent of sales, one can become a salon owner. The only rule that applies is that at least one of the partners signing the franchise contract must be a licensed cosmetologist.
For their fees, the new business owners are to receive advertising, training on how to run the business, as well as monthly visits from a regional representative who monitors the salon’s progress and points out where improvements to the business should be made. Feldman sees Haircolorxpress as revolutionary as the blow dryer.
“With Haircolorxpress a colorist now has the opportunity to not only own a business but to learn how to run it and to learn about labor costs, product costs and inventory costs, things they never had to think about working for someone else,” Feldman said.
While Feldman admits some top colorists can earn nearly $120,000 a year working at upscale, well-known salons, owning a piece of the business is rarely ever an option for them.
But he also admits that Haircolorxpress will not appeal to all colorists.
“It’s not for everyone,” Feldman said, explaining that the colorists who thrive on exclusivity may cringe at the idea of working in a strip mall, a prime location for Haircolorxpress units.
Feldman’s target customers are not only hair colorists and cosmetologists, but also career-savvy women. “This is the perfect opportunity for a 45-year-old woman with grown kids to run a business that’s involved in fashion and beauty,” Feldman said.
Haircolorxpress looks to appeal to the 60 percent of the hair coloring public who color their hair at home. Haircolorxpress will offer this customer the opportunity to enjoy a single process treatment by a professional in a spacious, clean, modern environment for as little as $20. While the price may be triple what at-home color users are currently paying, the Haircolorxpress price is still way below many middle tier and upscale salon prices, which can start at $70 and rocket to $200 for the same treatment.
Feldman believes that for the extra money, Haircolorxpress offers customers a taste of VIP treatment: Each customer will be equipped with a Haircolorxpress swipe card, which contains a client’s favorite lip shade — custom cosmetics will be offered here, too — as well as personal hair color data.
Currently there are four Haircolorxpress units operating, all in South Florida. Sixteen are currently under construction; 38 leases have been signed. Feldman estimates 10,000 Haircolorxpress units to be up and running internationally over the next eight years.
Aside from having the opportunity to become a millionaire for the second time in his life, a personal interest lies at the heart of this new venture. Daniel Feldman, Feldman’s father, was a hair stylist for 20 years. While his father died at age 52 owning his own salon, entrepreneurial opportunities were hard to come by. “An opportunity like this didn’t exist for him or for those from his generation,” Feldman said.

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