My trip to NYC for the 2016 Holiday Season started off with a joyous ride from the Greensburg train station. That is where I met some lovely folks who were also traveling on my train. They were soon joined by a few more of their friends. They were traveling to NYC for the first time, and I assured them that they would love it this time of year because of all the hustle and bustle and the beautiful decorations throughout the city. Of course, I had to start with a picture of the historic train station with the gorgeous clock tower behind me. When I posted it to FB, one of my FB friends commented that his sister was on the same train. Lo and behold, it was the first couple that I had met at the train station as they were looking for a place to park: Maggie and Jerry Soles. As we made the many stops on the way, we laughed and had fun. There is something to be said for the tight knit spirit and friendliness of the people in Greensburg.
When I arrived at the NYC Penn station, the excitement really started to set in. Here I was again in the BIG APPLE! First, I confirmed my appointment for the next day with Lorna Boston, the Salon Manager of the famous Frederic Fekkai salon. I then checked into my hotel, which was only a few blocks from Times Square. Once settled in, I laid out my black outfit since everything is “Business Black” in the beauty industry. I made sure I had my wakeup call set, and I tried to figure out what to take to the salon as a salon warming gift. I should have packed a little bit of Pittsburgh to bring to the Big Apple, but at 9:30 at night there weren’t many places open that sold DeLallo’s cookies. I asked God to give me inspiration in the morning because my head was literally spinning. It was probably nerves about getting myself ready for my career meeting of a lifetime: to tour and to interview the manager of such a prestigious 5th Avenue salon.
The next morning as I found my way down the cold and rainy streets of NYC, I walked past a grocery store that had beautiful poinsettias in the window. My light bulb went off. They had a bakery section too, with delicious looking cookies all wrapped up in cellophane packages and holiday ribbon. Perfect! I then asked a set of cops and a doorman to make sure I was on the right path, and both needed an address, even with the famous salon being right around the corner. It sits on the 4th floor of the Henri Bendel building. I didn’t know who Henri Bendel was, but to get to the salon I had to ask the door man in the retail shop to let me up the elevator. It was definitely a swanky place! Indeed, The Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue is a historic building that was constructed in 1908 and converted in 1910 by François Coty. Today we remember Coty for his perfume and cosmetics. Coty commissioned René Jules Lalique, a renowned French Glass designer to replace the front façade with elegant pieces of art that were etched into the windows. They depict interlocking vines and flowers. Absolutely exquisite! Lalique was known for his Art Nouveau style in his jewelry and decorative arts. As I sat waiting for Lorna, I was served a delicious cappuccino, and I had the opportunity to look at the magnificent pieces of art throughout the salon. What a great introduction to a topnotch morning for this Italian! The Frederic Fekkai flagship salon on the 4th floor has a balcony that overlooks an array of magnificent finds for the refined woman on the 3rd floor. The Fekkai salon has a cutting floor, a color floor, and a nail and pedicure section, as well as a makeup station. Lorna told me that 2 of their employees do over 1 million dollars just in waxing alone. Waxing has become a huge phenomenon again in the beauty industry, whether it be eyebrows or lips or a bikini line for the jet setters preparing for a weekend at the Hamptons. The area that overlooks the balcony hosts a separate section behind the glass wall that hosts an array of barber styled chairs with flat screens and minimal décor. Barbering has also had a new upswing in the Beauty Industry. I am so grateful to have worked for a fabulous man I consider one of my mentors, John Robb. I worked for him for 9 years. He taught me persistence and the ins and outs of men’s grooming. When I worked for John, I polished my skills with the female clients who came in for colors, cuts, and, back in those Big Hair days, perms! Now anyone over 45 would remember those days. Today, Fekkai has entwined the male clientele into the main cutting floor. The salon had hosted a Dry Bar in this room for the ladies who had to be at work early for a blowout. Since then this section has evolved a third time into a Bridal section for Brides and also a private place for the Middle Eastern women who cannot be seen by men unless they wear their burkas. The staff puts up screens in front of the windows to style and pamper them. There are only a few salons today that can accommodate this tradition. Allanté is one of them. We offer another floor altogether for our Middle Eastern female clientele. On the other side of the Fekkai balcony is a call center with over 6 operators handling the calls that come in for all their salon locations. What a blessing to not be interrupted by phones ringing and to have all calls handled with the utmost care by their staff. Fekkai has an education department that works closely with their new designers before they head on to the cutting and color floors. They are trained with models 3 times a month. It takes over 2 years and much dedication to reserve a chair at Fekkai. As a teacher and consultant in the hair industry for over 35 years, I also stress the importance of continuing education. To this day, my staff must do reports and a minimum of over 100 hours of continuing education with models to continue as a Stylist with Allanté Hair Designs and Spa. I love traveling globally to learn and to educate others. In their first 30 days with Allanté, I ask all new employees to write down their goals for the next 6 months and 1, 3, 5, and 10 years. Writing down goals keeps them accountable and shows them how far they have come as they continue their career. Myself, I like to use Vision Boards, but that’s a Blog for another time.
After I finished my visit at Fekkai, my trip culminated in some salsa dancing, a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Retail Therapy at Saks Fifth Avenue, and a fabulous dinner at a Peruvian restaurant. The train ride home was relaxing, and it gave me time to reflect on my trip. Till next time my friends, Dream Big and Love Life!