I pushed through the red double doors leading to Erik of Norway Downtown salon expecting to be greeted by a rush of blow dryers, conversations, and scented products. Instead I faced a flight of stairs leading up to a light, airy room. A receptionist pleasantly ushered me into a lounge where Scott Yance, owner of Erik of Norway Downtown, greeted me.
The original Erik of Norway salon is located in Mequon and was opened more than 40 years ago by Erik Knudsen. Due to Erik's stellar reputation in the beauty industry, many of Milwaukee's best salons were started by stylists who earned their styling chops at Erik of Norway. Scott Yance, owner of the new downtown location also grew from the "mother salon," acting as its creative director for the last 15 years.
Yance opened the downtown location only last April, and plans to rename it "scottfree" in 2013. Scottfree? But what could it mean and why?
Scottfree encompasses so many things, explains Yance, on a personal, business, and professional level.
Personally, Yance feels the name describes his life - it's the direction in which his personal and professional life is going. On a business level, scottfree allows it's employees to freely create, to become their own person within the salon. Each stylist is encouraged to have his or her own style within the scottfree brand. They are free to work commercially, whether it's through editorial magazine spreads, traveling pro-brand ambassadors, or at Fashion Week.
"We even have a stylist right now working on the set of an action film," Scott says.
Scottfree also welcomes anybody and everybody to freely enjoy the salon's space. A business woman on her lunch break can walk from her office and order lunch while she gets her hair done. "With our name, and being so close to the Pfister," Yance says, "we've even had celebrities join us. We've shut down the salon, provided a body guard and ordered food from the best Milwaukee restaurants while having their favorite candy available."
Clients can also be sure to get quality service while they're at the salon, as all of the stylists train for a year and a half before they're able to style on the floor. Yance describes his salon as a boutique concierge salon, with its valet parking, lounge area with WiFi, and many surrounding restaurants. The point? Someone from out of town can experience the best of Milwaukee right from their salon seat.
But how will Yance grow the brand? He doesn't want to have a large salon. He'd like to keep the space small and intimate to provide the best service possible, but opening additional locations is on Yance's radar. And perhaps in the not so distant future is a scottfree product line.
It's a lot of change, but I can't wait to see how it all unfolds.
Photos courtesy of scottfree. Bottom photo: left to right: Scott Yance, Matt Mackai and Tammi Savic.