• Pepper Pastor Salon
  • 'Our location was originally an olive-oil store, so everything you see is new,' Pepper says.
  • Pepper's waiting area
  • Pepper's favorite piece: an antique Victorian sofa, bought on eBay for $100
  • 'Have fun,' says Pepper. 'Start with a mood board of pictures and inspirations.'

Pepper Pastor Salon

Pepper Pastor just can’t stay away from hair. A summer job as a shampoo girl at age 16 turned into a regular gig at a salon, but it was only when she was studying art history in college that the styling bug truly took hold.

In 2004 Pepper moved to Berlin, refining her craft by working at international hair shows throughout Europe. She returned to New York as an educational director at a top Manhattan salon, designing and leading training courses for a 70-person staff for three years. With more than 12 years on the salon floor, Pepper’s talent is in demand at magazines including Vogue and Marie Claire, and shows such as Oscar de la Renta and Rodarte. Now, with the opening of Pepper Pastor Salon, a high-concept hair and makeup studio with a personal touch, Pepper is realizing her dream of owning an independent creative space.

What was the concept behind your design?

Coco Chanel meets Tim Burton. I love classic elegance but also the style of Burton’s movies. If you look at the salon, our paneled walls could be from any traditional Upper East Side apartment, but then we have this weird chandelier with claw feet.

Did you work with an architect or interior designer?

We worked with a firm called Parts and Labor. Although they had a background in restaurant design, this was their first salon. Our location was originally an olive-oil store, so everything you see is new. The entire process took six months, and looking back, it was the most fun period in my career.

How did you consider flow of services?

The space is less than 900 square feet, so we had to work around that. I design a 1920s-inspired makeup collection called Valentine Beauty, and we offer full makeup services, along with hair. My priority was to make the space comfortable. Some salons are less than 500 square feet and try squeeze in five workstations. We have only three hair stations and one for makeup.

All of our stations are custom-built down to the last detail. I had each stations’ drawers designed around the depths and widths that work best for my scissors, brushes and blow-dryers.

What are your favorite objects in the space?

I love the antique gates behind the shampoo bowels. They were taken from an old Art Deco elevator, and I love that idea of using old things in a new way. My favorite piece is the antique Victorian sofa in the reception area. I found it on eBay for $100, and everyone kept telling me it wasn’t even worth the shipping. I knew it would be great and bought it anyway. It looks amazing reupholstered and now is one of the focal points of the salon.

How do you create the right atmosphere for your clients?

We update some design features every season. We had a display of black skulls that just got switched out for white mice. Our clients enjoy coming in to see what’s changed since their last visit. Music is also very important. One of our stylists is a musician, and he does a fantastic job of bringing in great playlists. It’s not about getting people in and out; it’s about comfort and maintaining the luxury of our brand.

Any advice for salon owners contemplating a redesign?

Have fun. Start with a mood board of pictures and inspirations. That’s the best way to find out what colors and styles suit you best. Then, work with someone you trust to make it happen. The right collaboration can turn a good idea into a great one.

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