Though traditionally a 10-year anniversary means a gift of tin or aluminum, a pair of salon owners in Larchmont recently celebrated that milestone in a different way — with an expansion into retail.
Hair stylists Massimo DiCicco and Dawn Bruckner, owners of Salon Firefly at 2134 Boston Post Road in Larchmont, saw an opportunity when a neighboring boutique adjoining their salon closed up shop last year. The duo decided to tear down part of the wall that divided the two spaces and convert the additional 400 square feet into retail.
“Really, Dawn and I were here on our days off jackhammering,” DiCicco said of the expansion. “I think I lost part of my hearing.”
The storefront, which opened earlier this summer, features exposed brick, hardwood floors and a pallet-covered accent wall.
“The idea of the extension of the space was just to free up more room in the salon,” DiCicco said. “It gave us the flexibility of bringing in a couple of cool product lines.”
Wooden shelves and cabinets display a variety of those new product lines, from Italian shaving cream and all-natural hair products from California to scented candles and a full range of hair care items from Bumble and bumble Products LLC, a brand owned by Estee Lauder Cos. Inc. The business partners met and are still employed at Bumble and bumble’s flagship salon in Manhattan.
Bruckner started her career at the iconic New York City salon when she was just 19. She spent the next 24 years working her way up the ranks to become a teacher in the salon’s apprenticeship program.
Like Bruckner, DiCicco also spent his entire career with Bumble, starting with the company in 1998. He went on to teach techniques he learned at the salon at roadshows and seminars worldwide and styled hair for fashion shows in New York and across Europe.
Because many of their longtime clients made their way to the Manhattan salon from their homes in Westchester, setting up shop within the county made sense for DiCicco and Bruckner. The move would also mean a shorter commute for the Westchester residents, both of whom were parents of young children at the time. Bruckner lives in New Rochelle while DiCicco travels to the salon from his home in Mamaroneck.
The pair said they had talked occasionally about going into business together before DiCicco stopped Bruckner one day at Bumble.
“I actually approached her in the hallway and said, ‘Do you want to open up a salon?’ and she said, ‘I’m ready,’” he recalled.
The opportunity for a venture of their own presented itself when DiCicco found an available space in Larchmont.
“I’m always looking around at real estate for some reason, and I saw this space opened up and I’m like, ‘I really like this,’” he said.
Formerly an antiques shop, the 1,000-square-foot retail space was converted by the duo into their dream salon. Salon Firefly opened its doors in June 2007.
“We started really with not much of a clientele, not much of a staff,” DiCicco said. “We both cut and we didn’t have a colorist. But we worked through all of that.”
Though their eight-employee salon is not directly affiliated with Bumble and bumble, the two have taken their cues from the salon where they spent much of their careers.
“Nobody goes into Bumble and works immediately on the floor,” said DiCicco, who spent two-and-a-half years as an apprentice prior to working solo with clients at Bumble. “It’s a big commitment, but that’s where we did our training, so we feel the same about our space here.”
“It’s definitely satisfying to be able to train people and watch them evolve,” DiCicco said. “The first thing I teach them is to cut a straight line, which usually takes like six months.”
With their new addition, the hairstyling partners are learning the retail trade.
“Retail is a whole different thing,” said Bruckner. “We’re certainly not going to turn into salespeople, but because we use these products, it’s an easy transition.
“Everyone needs something for their hair, so you just have to find that right piece or two pieces,” Bruckner said. “You have to guide them. People buy stuff anyway, so why not get something that’s right for you.”
“Maybe you just need a decent shampoo alone,” said DiCicco, finishing Bruckner’s thought, a common occurrence between the two long-time co-workers. “You don’t have to buy everything.”
Both Bruckner and DiCicco say their hard work in expanding their operation has paid off.
“It’s been great,” said DiCicco, who continues to spend one day a week working at Bumble in Manhattan. “People walk in here, and they’re like “Whoa, I feel like I’m in the city,’ and that’s what we’ve always wanted to grasp and we always have. We are not your stereotypical Westchester hairdressers. We wanted this to reflect our style of hairdressing, which is definitely more New York City-style.”
For now, the partners say they are satisfied with their offerings and footprint. Perhaps someday available products will include something created by DiCicco or Bruckner.
“I’d like to have an all-natural product line where you can mix and match yourself,” DiCicco said, describing his vision of merchandise that would include a variety of formulas and scents from which customers could pick and choose.
“Maybe after another 10 years,” Bruckner said with a laugh.