Bringing big city luxury to suburb communities is what Ecco Salon is aiming to offer its customers.
The Ecco philosophy has always been to provide a city salon experience without the urban hassles such as finding street parking and overcrowding inside, owner Trent Lange told the Press.
The goal is bringing that philosophy forth at Ecco Salon’s new Verona space inside the Market No. 5 strip mall, between Epic Systems and the new high school. It’s Ecco’s third location, and the first (and so far only) business to open up in the shopping complex completed in late summer. Lange owns the salon with his wife, Sarah. It opened Tuesday, Nov. 10.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening was only delayed by five days from the original projected date — for the installation of air handler units. It joins the original Fitchburg location that opened in 2007 and one that opened in Waunakee in 2015.
The salon features services like haircuts, coloring and blowouts. While there are no facials yet due to COVID-19, they are offering waxing from the neck up and lash extensions.
The Langes designed this location late last year prior to COVID-19, but have reduced their footprint by offering less features for now, which allows them to spread out services.
The salon’s customer service is the primary way it strives to set itself apart, manager of the Verona salon Kelly Campbell said.
“We really elevate ourselves to find ways to add value to our guests’ experience,” she said.
To achieve that, stylists are not only state-certified, but also complete an in-house training to meet Ecco standards. Ecco’s 12-point standards system differentiates themselves from other salons, she said.
Campbell said she’s is “really proud” of the salon’s recognitions, which include being nominated for the top 200 salons out of the entire U.S. beauty industry for over a decade by Salon Today, as well as being one of the top three salons in Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison survey for the last half dozen years.
Trent said while luxury has been a big part of the salon philosophy, he said safety is what’s most important now – and the salon is ready to offer innovative ways to provide that.
But Trent said there are guests who are still not at the comfort level of indoor service yet and so, the Langes want to offer as many options as possible for various patron comfort levels.
At its other locations, there were wind blockers installed in the parking lot for outdoor haircutting during the warmer months. Now, headed into winter, Trent said that erecting heated bubble tents in the parking lot will help customers continue to receive services outdoors.
The inside of the salon is open as well, though operating below the 50% capacity per Dane County public health orders. Trent said it’s operating at around 30% capacity indoors, but post-pandemic, it will be able to staff up to 20 stylists and estheticians.
Between the parking lot services, digital payments and curbside pickup for the store’s beauty products, no one ever has to walk into the salon if they don’t feel comfortable doing so, Trent said.
“Our goal is to make sure every guest gets the emotional boost you get from a haircut, that’s what we’re trying to drive now,” Trent said. “The environment in which people are relaxing is changing now. At Ecco, guests should get an experience where they feel comfortable and safe.”
While the tents likely will only be necessary until the pandemic is over, Trent said that from an industry perspective, he doesn’t think salons will ever go back to the same atmosphere as before, but he does not feel that’s a bad thing.
“One of the luxuries of pandemic was it allowed us to connect with guests, pay more attention, get feedback,” he said. “Pre-pandemic it was exciting to walk into a salon space. There were crowds and noise. I don’t see us going back any time soon. I see us coming out of this altering salons to be different. Daily operations will never be the same.”
Trent said he and Sarah were attracted to Verona because it provides a “high quality of life wrapped in the homey feeling of small-town America.”
He said his staff are eager to meet community members and provide them with “relaxing, reliable, and rejuvenating services tailored to their schedules and needs.”