MDG salon | studio

Joe and Sue Moore established MDG as a premier salon in downtown Indianapolis nearly 30 years ago. Last year, Joe and Sue, along with their son, MDG’s Chief Operating Officer Travis Moore, gave it a drastic makeover that debuted in July. The salon’s “wow” factor extends from the fashion-forward design to the incredible customer service to the red heels worn by everyone at the front desk. And with 70 percent of the staff having been on board for 10-plus years, it seems like it’s as great to work there as it is to visit. We talked to Travis about the incredible renovation, the impact the salon is making on AIDS awareness and how they use music and media to enhance the atmosphere.

How would you describe your salon’s design?

We feature an eclectic mix of industrial, urban and repurposed antique material that is both visually stimulating and functional. Our basis of understanding for our designer was function before form, yet the form needed to be absolutely unique!

How did you come up with your vision? And how did you make it a reality?

After 30 years in the business, we knew it was time to redefine ourselves. Three years ago, we sat down and took a long, hard look at what was happening in the industry and combined concepts that we saw growing across the board. How did we make it a reality and stay sane? Martini’s.

What feeling/mood are you trying to convey to your clients?

To be perfectly honest, it depends on the day. Our design is so unique that it seems to evolve constantly. Friday is Whitney Houston Pandora Day. Does that count as a mood?!

What was the space before you moved in?

Our building was new construction, but the street we’re on (Indiana Ave.) was historically the jazz corridor of downtown Indianapolis. You’ll find a few subtleties around the salon that give the former buildings on our block some props.

How does the design reflect and/or contradict the city/neighborhood you’re in?

Well, we have heard more then a few times that the city of Indianapolis “wasn’t ready” for something as eclectic/fashion-forward as our design. Our response is always, “That’s exactly what we want to hear.” We do play a lot of Sam Cooke.

What’s your favorite part of the salon?

In the 30 years MDG has been open, we’ve lost eight stylists to AIDS. When the AIDS epidemic hit in the late ‘90s, it hit our industry pretty hard (to say the least). Our designer created awnings over all the interior windows, and we left all but one painted white. We painted that one “Dead Center Red,” which is the color used in most AIDS awareness campaigns. The awning pays homage to those we lost. Almost every person that comes into the salon for the first time asks about it because it’s so apparent, and our team explains the meaning, so we’re spreading awareness everyday. Pretty cool.

What’s the most unique aspect of your salon (design or services)?

By far the most unique aspect is our approach to partnering with existing brands that complement our business. It’s a bit complicated to explain in a few sentences. You should come in for a tour.

Other than the physical design of the space, how do you create your desired atmosphere in the salon (music, multimedia, etc)?

We try to mix up the music everyday. We also have a huge projector that shows old movies on the salon floor. Depending on the time of year, we screen (silently, of course) different movies and shows. We play everything from I Love Lucy to The Bride of Frankenstein (on Halloween) to Shampoo with Warren Beatty.

If you could have a fashion designer create uniforms for your salon, what would they look like?

Girls in little black dresses and the guys in scrubs.

Do you serve food/alcohol in your salon? If so, what?

We do in the Blowdry Lounge and we do randomly on the floor. We’ll break out a big bottle of red after a long day. And we have a lot of those...

What is your retail area like? How does the setup help in selling products?

It glows. Lots of lighting and metal columns help separate our brands. We try to re-merchandise as often as possible to keep it fresh and interesting.
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