For years men have watched women saunter off to the salon to spend a few hours getting pampered in the lap of luxury.
The average guy might wonder where a man could go to get a similar experience, instead geared more towards his more rugged sensibilities, of course. The answer: 18/8 Fine Men’s Salon, a high-end new grooming establishment located in the Woodbury Common at 8285 Jericho Tpke.
Paul Tessitore of Rockville Centre, who co-owns 18/8 with his wife Randi, notes that in recent years men have been growing increasingly comfortable with the concept of pampering themselves in such a way that was previously only thought of as a woman’s sole domain. This salon gives males a chance to indulge themselves in a way that is geared towards their specific needs, he said.
“The reaction from people has been great…almost every single client we’ve had tells me that this is just such a wonderful experience that they’ve never had elsewhere,” he said. “Wives treat themselves to this kind of thing all the time, and men think it’s great that they have a place for that now as well. There was a time where it might have felt weird, but now I think it’s far more acceptable.”
Tessitore said that 18/8 creates what he calls an “end to end” experience for customers. First of all, the waiting area alone is worth the price of admission for a red-blooded American male; beer—yes, beer—is on tap, along with wine, coffee and soft drinks, all to be consumed on a big comfy couch while watching a widescreen HDTV. It’s simply the first stage of getting relaxed and comfortable, Tessitore said. Once ready, the customer is whisked off to their own private room where they change into a robe to avoid getting their shirt dirty or full of loose hairs.
“Our executive haircut starts with a five-minute hot stone massage, and we offer that service to all our first-time customers,” he said. “Then, we wash the hair twice—once before and once after the cut is finished, and when we’re done we do a hot towel treatment. As for the haircut itself, we do hand-crafted cuts…when a customer comes in, we find the best haircut for them based on the shape of their head, and we create a custom haircut.”
Barbers are also on-staff at 18/8, and classic hot towel shaves are offered along with more surprising fare in an establishment targeting the male demographic, such as manicures, facials and waxing; this last service targets many of the “problem” hair areas uniquely faced by men, Tessitore said, which is something you normally can’t get in your typical salon.
“Ear, nose and eyebrow waxing is very popular here with our clients,” he said. “It gets rid of all those pesky little hairs that are hard to get to, and it’s totally painless…it only takes a few minutes.”
The salon is a California-based franchise with about 500 stores currently in development nationwide. As for the origin of the name, Tessitore said that back when stainless steel was first invented for commercial use, it would often rust. It was discovered if they mixed in 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel, that would prevent it from rusting. Hence, “18/8.”
First opening 18/8 of Woodbury’s doors on Dec. 23, 2014 was quite a professional departure for Paul and Randi, both of whom were recent converts from the stresses of corporate America. Neither had any real experience in the hair biz before.
“I was with American Express for 15-plus years, and my wife had a career in advertising,” Tessitore said. “She still does freelance work in advertising, but I left American Express last year because I wanted to do something totally different for the rest of my working days and put the energy I was putting into corporate America into my own thing instead.”
To that end, Tessitore met with a franchise consultant to mull over prospective business ventures. Going in without any real expectations, he was exposed to just about every opportunity one could imagine, from the packing and shipping industry to cleaning services, but it wasn’t until a certain salon franchise crossed his eye that Tessitore said his interest was sparked.
“I never heard of anything like it before, and I found the concept to be provocative and interesting. There’s nothing like it here…barber shops and women’s salons don’t offer these range of services for men,” he said. “It’s a salon that only caters to men, and while we have had a woman or two come in for a haircut, and we never turn them away, that’s not who we market for.”
Considering the high-end status of 18/8 Fine Men’s Salon, they’re not just hiring anyone who walks off the street who can hold a pair of scissors straight. In fact, after a careful screening process where Tessitore assesses their general aptitude, representatives from 18/8’s franchise office fly in with models for the prospective stylists to demonstrate their skills on, after which those who make the cut receive training directly from 18/8’s own pros in the company’s specific, hand-crafted approach to haircutting.
While it all sounds a bit much for a job cutting hair, the end result is more than worth it when it comes to both making his customers happy, Tessitore said, as well as the fulfilling new course his professional life has taken in the past year.
“It’s a great feeling, having a business of your own, and working with great people. Plus, this is a model that’s recession proof, as people always need haircuts,” he said. “I would encourage people to give us a try, and once they come, they’ll keep coming back because it’s an experience they’re not going to get in many other places.”