Elan Sassoon is creating an empire of his own in the Boston and New York areas. Although he is originally from sunny California, he is now living the cold of the Northeast.
The son of the legendary hair stylist, Vidal Sassoon, has been working on creating The Academy for Hair and Skin by Elan Sassoon since 2008. It is scheduled to open soon.
The academy is a $22 million school near the Boston University campus on Commonwealth Avenue. The academy is a 90,000-square-foot facility with dormitories, the first of its kind in the country and the largest. It offers training from international stylists in everything from hair history to hair etiquette.
More are eventually planned to be opened around the country.
Elan also partnered with Lord's & Lady's Hair Salon founder Michael Barsamian to open a 3,000-square-foot high-end salon, Mizu, next to L'Espalier restaurant at the new luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel and condominium complex on Boylston Street. Another Mizu is planned for New York on Park Avenue. At Mizu which in Japanese means "water" the haircuts and coloring services start at $125.
Elan's also partnered for a line of spas called Green Tangerine. The two partners have launched two new spa and salon businesses, Green Tangerine at Patriot Place in Foxborough and Legacy Place in Dedham.
Elan, who is married to the gorgeous Adriana, a former supermodel from Brazil turned celebrity stylist, is not a hairstylist, but a businessman, also recently launched a line of hair care products with co-founder Lawrence Williams. The line is called Sojourn.
A launch party for the Sojourn hair care line took place in the tony W Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Elan told the media the Sojourn line is built upon amazing chemistry and will soon be shared with the public through beauty professionals. Rob Guimond, Sojourn's very own director of chemistry was at the launch to meet and greet.
The name Sassoon is key to the businesses that Elan is building. Barsamian said the name "attracts a lot of attention, a lot of hairdressers want to be affiliated with that name. It's going to put all of us on the map."
Elan's dad, hair pioneer Vidal Sassoon, opened his first US salon in 1965 in Manhattan. He was the first to cut hair in geometric shapes. Vidal quickly became a powerful force in the hair industry and helped turn the craft into an enormous and lucrative business.
Three decades later, the younger Sassoon, is looking to capitalize on the latest boom in beauty, which is fueled in part by a growing number of hotels and health clubs offering more hair and skin services, and an increase in skin care treatments.
Sassoon said he is trying to fill what he considers a major gap in beauty education across the industry. Sassoon's beauty school, the first of several planned around the country over the next several years, will feature 180 dorm beds, a 200-seat auditorium, and wind turbines and solar panels.
The academy will offer licenses in skin care, hair, and nails, and mandate students take 1,500 hours of cosmetology training over nine months to graduate, instead of the 1,000 hours required for a state license. The tuition of about $19,500 making it one of the most expensive such programs in the United States.
"I wanted to do this in Boston because this is the city of education. Why not have the best hair school here, too?" said Sassoon, who previously developed and ran medical spas for Klinger Advanced Aesthetics in Miami. "This kind of education has never been done in cosmetology."
Sassoon is negotiating with Patrick McGinley, who has worked as creative director at Boston's Vidal Sassoon salon on Newbury Street, to run the academy. Other directors will likely include Dennis Tarr, who helped start the Blaine Beauty School chain locally 30 years ago.
"There is always a market for quality education," said Elizabeth Grady president John Walsh. "For Elizabeth Grady the more competition/awareness in the industry, the better we appear."
Getting Outbid By Regis Corporation
Elan Sassoon, the Boston beauty empire is a response to his failure several years ago to purchase the Vidal Sassoon brand, getting outbid by Regis Corp. for the company's 25 salons nationwide and four beauty academies. The product line was sold to Richardson-Vicks, which was acquired by Procter & Gamble Co. about two decades ago.
In 2003, Vidal Sassoon filed a lawsuit against the consumer products giant for abandoning his brand and costing him millions of dollars in royalties. The two sides settled the case in a private deal a year later, releasing a statement that said, "Mr. Sassoon and Procter & Gamble appreciate the mutual association and look forward to the continued success of Vidal Sassoon products."
Elan's dad, Vidal Sassoon now lives in Los Angeles and raises money to help build homes in New Orleans.
Elan Sassoon said his $31 million offer for the salons and academies was about $2 million lower than Regis's deal. Longtime associates of Vidal Sassoon at Haircare Ltd., which bought the salons and academies from him in the 1980s, showed no favoritism when Elan Sassoon wanted to buy back his father's company.
"There was no love. That hurt," he said. "So I thought, why not open the finest school in the world?"
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