NEW YORK — When friends told expert hair stylist Ouidad that opening a salon catering exclusively to the curly-haired crowd would be the beginning of the end of her career, she didn’t listen. Twenty years later, Ouidad is glad she turned a deaf ear to the bad business advice: Her business is thriving, she’s moving to a larger salon space and she’s embarked on teaching other stylists her self-taught method of cutting curly hair.
On Monday, June 23, Ouidad also is throwing a party to celebrate her success — at Carnegie Hall, no less.
“As a pioneer, I thought Carnegie Hall was the way to go,” Ouidad said.
Among the food, music and cocktails will be photographs by Daniel Garriga of recently designed hair looks created by Ouidad.
Ouidad’s new ad campaign, also shot by Garriga, will be unveiled at the party, with visuals that are described as “provocative” and “a departure from any other beauty campaign.” Ads break in August beauty magazines.
Ouidad’s salon, which caters to as many as 130 clients per day, is located in the penthouse of 846 Seventh Ave. But not for long. A new space is in the works, which, at 5,000 square feet, will be three times larger than the current salon. The space will allow the stylist to better cater to her thriving education business.
“This morning I got a stack of [letters from] salons that want to be affiliated” with her method of cutting, Ouidad said. Demand is so high it makes more sense for stylists to come to New York to train at her salon rather than for her to fly all over the country, she said.
Ouidad, who has a headful of curly locks, embarked on the educational side of her business three years ago. Since then, she has signed up 12 salons to use her method and her name, each at a price of $5,000. “Well, the first six I did for free,” she said.
The Ouidad salon generated more than $5 million in sales for 2002, up 28 percent from the previous year, according to Ouidad. The average cut there costs between $100 and $125, but the average ring totals closer to $190, which includes Ouidad’s self-made deep conditioning treatment — a mixture of amino acids, sulphur and vitamins.
With all of her accomplishments, Ouidad, who hails from Lebanon, is most proud that she owns her business outright. She qualified for a small business loan and in three years paid it off. “Only in America can someone have this opportunity,” she said.