Shhh! This Philadelphia Hair Salon Is Putting a Stop to Awkward Small Talk
It’s time for your cut and color. You sit down in the salon chair. Your hair stylist drapes a cape over your shoulders. She gets to snipping and you get to blabbing, probably too much.
At first, you talk about safe stuff, like the weather and what you’re doing on the weekend. Then, in not too long, the verbal vomit sets in. Now everything’s fair game -- your work dramas, the highs and lows of your love life or that time you did that thing you probably shouldn’t tell your hairdresser. But -- whoops, TMI! Next thing you know, you’re embarrassed, and she is, too.
Yep, you made it awkward. It’s that same weird-ish feeling Avi Shenkar wants his clients -- and hair stylists -- never to have to squirm through at both of his Philadelphia BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar hair salons. That’s why the 35-year-old entrepreneur is cutting out the small talk, at least for clients who opt for what he calls the “Zen Experience.”
“We’ve had clients in the past that blatantly asked the stylist not to talk,” says Shenkar, a self-described “natural introvert.” “That’s uncomfortable. This way, you’re not being rude or mean. You’ve simply opted for 'Zen.'”
The quirky service, which Shenkar’s stylists began offering only a week ago, is simple. It enables clients to have their hair styled in silence -- well, apart from ambient music and the thrum of blow dryers. No uncomfortable small talk required.
Other than the typical quick questions about how you want your hair colored or coiffed, or how hot or cold you’d like the water during your shampoo, it’s all quiet on the styling front. There’s even a “Shhh!” sign the hairdresser places at his or her station letting others know not to mess with you while you’re in your “Zen” zone.
It’s your quiet time, guys and gals. Do with it what you wish.
“You can read a book, talk on the phone, close your eyes for 45 minutes or just enjoy the awkward-free quiet time,” Shenkar says.
Uh, wait. Exactly how is talking on the phone quiet (or considerate)? We’re going to pretend he didn’t just say that. Better to silently peruse Instagram, Facebook or whatever on your phone, we say. But, hey, it’s totally up to you, and that’s the whole point.
The best part, if you ask us, is that this pre-ordered peace and quiet doesn’t cost a dime.
“Yes, the 'Zen Experience' is a free service," Shenkar says, "although, as a father of a toddler, I'm sure some mothers would pay extra for an hour of silence.” Ditto that.
As for whether the hush-hush service has sparked an uptick in business, Shenkar says it’s too early to to tell. But the unique offering has ironically gotten people talking about BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar, and that alone makes it worth it.
“I've heard a lot of clients bringing it up and telling us what a great idea it is,” he says. “Whether it was the motivating factor for their visit, we don’t know. But, for now, it's definitely a differentiator in the hair styling space.”
Shenkar’s boutique isn’t the only salon to offer quiet cuts as of late. Across the pond, Bauhaus Salon in Cardiff, South Wales, also offers a similar “Quiet Chair” service for its less chatty clientele. For those of you who dread beauty parlor prattle, we hope the tranquil trend catches on.
Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper, HealthCentral.com, PsychCentral.com and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here.