Houston, Texas-based salon Therapy Hair Studios had just opened their doors before having to shutter due to the lockdown earlier this year. Co-founder David Bamford tells The Daily how they’ve been managing since and why customers are happier than ever to sit in their chairs. Plus! What Kérastase products is he crazy about?
How did you get into the industry ?
I was always interested in hair and fashion but never really knew it would be my calling. I would attempt to cuts friends’ hair at school and even managed to get someone suspended for their hair being too wild. I was actually studying to do interior technology and architecture and my hairdresser Elia asked me to be a model in an upcoming hair show and runway presentation. There were a ton of models and not enough hairdressers, so I offered to step in and help. Surprisingly, the team loved what I did and offered me a job. Initially my family was surprised by my sudden change of direction, however they were thrilled that I finally figured out what I should be doing. The apprenticeship process in Australia at the time was for four years, while you also go to college. At the end of the four years I really wasn’t sure if it was for me. My boss at the time entered me into some competitions that he tricked me into going to. I was entered into two International Hair Dressing Society competitions that I won. There was no way in the world that I thought I even had a chance. When they called my name, I thought that I may have parked in the wrong place and they wanted me to move my car. I was floored! After that, I traveled and worked in Scotland for a year and finally did a three month stint in the U.S. that has turned into 20 years.
How did the salon start ?
Our first salon opened in 2008—the week that the global financial disaster hit the world. Due to that we [realized] we would have to work extra hard and really figure out what works for us, in order to survive in that time. Luis Perez, my partner, and I opened a salon because we couldn’t find the right place for us and figured there must be more hairdressers like us out there. We both wanted a salon where we all would work together and grow as a big team, with the clients needs ahead of our own. Within a few years our original team of five had grown to 16 and we needed more space as soon as possible. We searched for years and finally found the ideal land that we could purchase. We built our dream salon and it opened this year… five weeks before the lockdown!
What makes the salon special?
Since we had a clean slate, we decided to create a sanctuary within the city. Our new location is just over 4000 feet, all open plan, and we wanted it to feel like you’re in your fancy friend’s house in Australia. We used warm tones, wooden floors, and a huge open courtyard that you can see from every angle of the salon. Our guests can wait outside in the garden area or you can even get your color done there. The new space has really bought our Therapy family closer than ever, as after work we can catch up and share the day’s events in the garden area.
What’s your favorite thing to do there?
Honestly my favorite thing to do is sit back and watch my former assistants thrive as they work on the salon floor. Watching people grow to their full potential is such a wonderful thing to witness and celebrate. I love what I do, so I don’t even feel like I’m at work. The space is so wonderful, so its almost like I’m catching up with people who I adore. And then they leave with better hair!
How did you adapt to the pandemic?
I was in Australia in February and saw what was happening there, so the moment I landed we ordered 1,500 KN95 masks, partitions to separate each station, and bought all of the sterilizing equipment we could find. Once we got the news to close, we were devastated. We had spent over a year building the space out, and then five weeks in, we were shut down. The second it was shut, we were figuring out everything so that once we could open, it would be a safe working environment for all of our Therapy family and clients. We made it mandatory to wear masks and stop serving beverages before we were told to. Everyone knows that we are germaphobes and knew we were going to give it our all.
How did you cope with being closed during quarantine?
To keep our clients engaged with the salon, I started doing videos about hair and product tutorials on our Instagram @Davidisabamf and @Therapyhairstudio. I was surprised by the response and started a curbside drive-thru with no contact product pick up.
What was it like reuniting with the customers?
We are blessed to have great loyal customers, so having the opportunity to care for them again was amazing. Needless to say, most looked like a hot mess and were thrilled to be turned back into themselves again! Like everyone else out there, there was a lot of color correction and also a new sense of being proud of our profession; that we easily can bring a glimpse of normality back into someone’s lives.
What styles have customers been requesting lately?
The most requested look right now is to look like they did before COVID hit. Many people actually embraced their natural textures and grey hair and surprisingly they all looked amazing.
What’s your all-time favorite iconic hairstyle?
When I first worked in America, it was for Jose Eber, who I adore. He is an amazing stylist. I was even lucky enough to meet Farrah Fawcett. She actually wrote a letter to the U.S. government to help me get my greencard, so I’d have to say Farrah!
You work with Kérastase products. What are some of your favorite to work with?
Right now, I’m obsessed with Kérastase Cicaplasme Hair Primer. For heat protection on blonds, nothing can compare. The hair feels like it was never colored and has a beautiful natural sheen. Also I love L’Huile De Perfume to finish all my long hair blowers. It’s so lightweight and leaves the hair with a heavenly scent.