This last year has brought many struggles to our local businesses and community, but it also provided new opportunities. The Lee Harrison Shopping Center recently welcomed Salon dcb, a new local salon employing top notch stylists that hope to create the new “go-to salon in Arlington.”
LHA’s Communication Manager recently spoke with the Salon’s Owner, David Barnes, to welcome him to the corridor and ask him about all things Salon dcb.
DB: The first day of business at Lee Harrison was on January 18, 2021!
MPH: What led you to open the Salon along Lee Highway?
DB: I had actively been searching for a space for the past four years. The challenge, and the reason it took me so long to find the right space, was that I wanted a small space. Had I wanted a 1500 sq./ft. space I could have opened years ago. The problem with large spaces, however, is that you have to fill them with employees/renters. Instead, I wanted an approximately 800 sq/ft. space to create a quiet, calm, and intimate space where I could focus on providing the best possible service for my guests with only one additional stylist onboard - I’ve done the big staff and studio thing before but I was no longer interested in that. I also wanted a store-front location as opposed to going into a salon suite.
I’ve had many discussions with landlords in Arlington and the Del Ray area of Alexandria over the past four years and even spent six months negotiating for a space close by, but the landlord pulled out at the last moment. When I found the Lee Harrison space it felt like fate!
MPH: How many people work at the Salon?
DB: The staff consists of me, Sara, my assistant of 10 years, Renu, and a part-time shampoo tech.
MPH: How do you ensure safety for your employees and guests during this time?
DB: As per county and CDC recommendations, masks must be worn at all times by guests and employees while in the salon. High-touch surfaces are wiped down after each appointment with a hospital grade disinfectant. Hand sanitizer and hand washing is an ever-constant part of our lives now as well. Additionally, because the salon is only 800 sq./ft., it cannot accommodate more than seven people at a time. Guests find it reassuring and are more comfortable to be in a space with fewer people.
MPH: COVID-19 has been so tough for small businesses. Has the pandemic impacted your opening and operation?
DB: I opened a business in the middle of a world-wide pandemic when small independent businesses are closing on a daily basis in record numbers. I opened in the dead of winter - January and February are traditionally the two slowest months even in the best of times. Foot traffic is down because of COVID and the cold weather. Women in record numbers are growing out their color and receiving fewer salon services. Business in 2020 was down 25% from 2019. I have guests that were with me for 15+ years that were in every 5 weeks for a cut and color who I haven’t seen for a year now. And then there is the normal attrition of guests moving out of the area.Luckily, however, it only took a few extra weeks for the building permit to be issued for the Salon. I was concerned early on about delays in getting equipment as factories here and abroad shut down, but thankfully everything was delivered well before opening. I just keep reminding myself that when one door closes, another opens!
MPH: What is the best way the community can support you and help the salon thrive during these challenging times?
NOLAS, which is salon spelled backward. Clients kept asking who Nola was? When I sold that salon, the trademarked name conveyed. When I opened at the Halstead, I rebranded to Salon dcb. While renting a chair the past seven years, I was Salon dcb in Exile. And now I’m back to Salon dcb.
MPH: How long have you been a stylist and what led you to choose this profession?
DB: Long story. My father, two of my uncles, and one of my great-uncles owned their own barber shops. Given that, I never had the desire to go into ‘the business’ growing up. It was not until after graduating high school that I decided to go to cosmetology school. I had a good friend at the time who was a stylist and attending a week-long training session. I would hang out with him and the out-of-town trainers in the evenings at their hotel and they would always get together in one of their rooms, cut hair, and talk about the different trainings they did around the country. Traveling and educating seemed, at the time, to be so glamorous so I thought I would give it a try. I had no clue as to whether I had one ounce of talent or not. I ended up being an educator for Matrix and then Redken for ten years. During that time, I conducted seminars and educational classes up and down the east coast and even as far away as Alaska. Until COVID, I was a Color Specialist for Paul Mitchell the School in Tysons Corner for fourteen years. I love educating and being able to share my knowledge and experiences to help others grow and become successful in this field. I moved to Arlington in the 80s and opened my first salon, NOLAS, at Arlington Courthouse Metro in 1992. People are always amazed when they learn how long I have been doing hair. It’s gotten to the point where I now do the hair of the young adult children of clients who were not even pregnant at the time I started working with them. What I may lack now in youthful enthusiasm, I more than make up for with God-given talent, experience, and a passion for my craft.
MPH: That’s amazing! Clearly this is something you’re very passionate about. What do you hope for the future of the Salon?
salon professionals. Because of our location and the neighborhood’s demographic, I plan for us to be very successful and in high demand. My goal is to be the go-to salon in Arlington for beautiful, believable, and healthy-looking hair.
MPH: Well, we wish you nothing but the best, David. Good luck and thank you so much for chatting with me.
DB: My pleasure, Maia.