This time last year, all of the Virtue Team Leaders met in our break room in front of a large white board to decide on our goals for 2018. After several cups of coffee and much brainstorming, we started to see a direction forming. Someone threw out the idea of a salon remodel. Everyone on our leadership team agreed that this was the next necessary step for Virtue. The salon remodel of 2018 became our biggest goal and greatest accomplishment to date.
our new direction
Since the beginning, Virtue Salon has been a free-flowing, mixed bag of seating and service areas. Many times, people stopped into Virtue thinking it was a furniture store! Although it was laughable, we were ready to make a change. As someone with roots in the Paul Mitchell Brand, their approach to thinking of a salon in “economies” has always been something I admired. We unanimously agreed that that we wanted to create intention behind each economy in order to use our space efficiently and purposefully.
As we set out on our mission, my husband, TJ, and I initially thought we would hire out all services for the remodel. We quickly discovered that in order to do so, we would have to close the salon for a month or more! Most of the contractors we needed were only available weekdays, when we were open. We even met with an amazing design firm but eventually decided that we needed to take on most of these projects ourselves.
We collected ideas from the Virtue Team, salons we admire, and other small businesses we are obsessed with. Eventually we developed a plan. TJ and I created a year long plan of attack to finish the remodel by the end of the year. Most of the work we completed ourselves over Memorial Day, Labor Day, late weeknights, and almost every weekend. We closed for one week in October for contractors to come in and take care of the big projects. TJ and I worked 14 hours every day that week, but it was completely worth it.
gathering all of the pieces
As we worked to collect the all of right pieces including stations, chairs, and sinks, we realized how picky we were. We took a last-minute trip to Chicago in April to look at salon furniture and decided that none of it was for us. Historically, Virtue Salon has only consisted of custom-made stations and found objects including vintage barber chairs, a vintage doctor’s chair for facial waxing, and a vintage fireplace. We are keen on wood, metal, and glass, love mid-century modern style, and needed high-quality pieces that aligned with our brand. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to invest in new pieces that were not up to our standards in these ways.
Realizing this in Chicago, we contacted the Columbus Idea Foundry to find someone to create the pieces we needed. We ended up meeting with Eric Lanese and Ryan Lydon when we got back to Columbus. They hand made all of the pieces we needed for the salon and we couldn’t be happier. In hindsight, it’s obvious that commissioning local artists fits perfectly with our perspective of the craft of hairdressing. We believe in quality over quantity and acknowledge the true artistry of what we do. With these values in mind, it only makes sense for true craftsmen to build the pieces we use every day to perform our craft.
Ryan Lydon built our new color application table. It is 12-foot long, concrete table with no surrounding mirrors. The color area allows for better flow in the salon and has already proven to be a source of community; our guests talk amongst themselves as the hairdressers apply color. Eight matching vintage salon chairs fell right into our lap for this area. They were once used in a now-retired beauty school in Marion, Ohio. With this area as a clearly defined economy, we now need far less reupholstering as well (once dark color touches a chair it is rarely able to be removed completely)! Eric Lanese meticulously designed our front desk, makeup bar, and gorgeous mirror frames. He electrocuted black walnut wood and infused it with malachite to create beautiful teal veins in the wood grain.
the inevitable hiccups
Of course not everything for the remodel went as smoothly as it may seem. We laid a 100% recycled tire subfloor, similar to floors found in fitness facilities, to provide our hairdressers with extra support for the hours they spend on their feet. The first day of haircuts with the new floor was a nightmare. The hair would barely sweep up; it was sticking to the floor like Velcro! We have plans to get it resealed with a different product to fix this issue. Additionally, for the first time in Virtue history, we ordered factory-made tool holders that we discovered could not even hold our styling tools! Once again, Eric Lanese came to the rescue and agreed to build custom tool holders for our specific needs. We also ordered large, fine art prints of our photo shoots to mount around the salon. They were delivered late, then misprinted, and when we finally framed and mounted them, they started sliding out of our frames! However, with lots of tape, micro-cloths, and determination, they are proudly hanging on our walls. We even have plans for more!
2018 was a busy, challenging, and yet extremely rewarding year. We changed and improved every element of our business. We are so grateful for the love, enthusiasm and support of the community as we have given our business a refresh.