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April 27, 2015

Opening a Second Location

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How a Salon’s Growing Pains Turned into a Profitable and Pretty Partnership


By Jacob Wucka


Arlington, VA is a city on the rise. In recent years, Arlington has seen a steep increase of young professionals streaming in from Washington, D.C., incorporating a more metropolitan feel within the city’s borders. One aspect it lacked, however, was a big city salon, which motivated Lisa Dahl and Melanie St. Clair to launch Smitten Boutique Salon in 2011. Smitten was a hit, and the books filled up, but in time, busy backfired as they simply didn’t have enough time to offer all the services they wanted. So, step one—Smitten relocated to a larger space. Instead of selling the old space, they partnered with Bumble and bumble to create a unique-to-the-area styling studio called Primp by Smitten that specializes in blow-dries, weddings and makeup.



Filling in the Service Gaps

Opening Primp less than a five minute drive away from Smitten allows them to refer clients to Primp, where they can receive services that Smitten can’t accommodate—including bridal services, keratin treatments and blow-dry parties. Lisa and Melanie also hired a full-time makeup artist to jumpstart Primp’s reputation as a one-stop shop for all things fashion. While not explicitly advising clients on their wardrobes, Primp artists offer advice on makeup, fashion and what’s on-trend.</


When formulating their menu prices, Melanie and Lisa looked at area dry bars for inspiration. As a styling bar, they wanted comparable yet competitive prices. They consulted with the pros at Bumble and bumble to create their Look Book, then set their prices at $45 for a classic blow-dry, $55 for specialty blow-dries and $75 for updos. And because of the overwhelming and ongoing popularity of all things plaited, Primp will add a braid to any style for an additional $10.



Primp also recruited young talent from area blow dry bars to be a part of the newly formed Primp team. Doing so, they felt, would enable them to train from the ground up, and create a cohesive and creative staff that meets their standards. All of the staff members are paid on commission. And while Lisa and Melanie try to be on-site at both locations throughout the day, they understood that it’s not always realistic. So Lisa, Melanie and the existing salon coordinators from Smitten rotate their time between the salons.


To attract new clients, Primp has become very active. Along with social media promotions, the salon initiated a foot campaign, sending stylists to local bars, yoga studios, coffee shops and restaurants to promote the new business.



Adopting the Bumble and bumble Look

The redesign of the studio was aided by decorators from Bumble and bumble, who reconfigured the space in the distinctive Bumble and bumble image. The redesign included adding their signature blue wallpaper featuring sketches of stylists doing makeup—the same wallpaper that is in Bumble and bumble’s New York City salon. In addition, they hung photos from fashion shows along the wall and supplied video of backstage Fashion Week footage that runs in a continuous loop until midnight each day near the door to convey a strong fashion message.



Primp has opened many doors for Lisa and Melanie—allowing them to expand their services and retain and build their clientele. They claim this would never have been possible without the partnership with Bumble and bumble. “A huge part of Primp is the culture we’ve instilled in both businesses, and it’s something that has stemmed from Bumble and bumble,” says Lisa. “They’ve taught us how important the culture is in your salon and how to stay true to it and remain consistent with it—from who we hire to the rules that we put in place.”