William Collier: Synopsis of a Memoir, Pt. 33 - Collier's is Launched

March 31, 2016

The size of Salon 1500 became more of an obstacle to our continued growth, a space for expansion was occurring. As we continued to grow the ambiance

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became contrived; it was clear we needed more space. When we were at total capacity and any unscheduled visitor dropped in it was impossible to have any privacy. Our product rep from Paris Beauty Supply, I believe his name was Mel, was a frequent victim of our claustrophobic condition. On one of his routine visits, by chance I was free and able to have a casual chat.  Being aware of the obvious constraints of our environment, he mentioned a space that was available on 6th Avenue next door to I. Magnin, suggesting it was a very reasonable proposition. The thought in the moment of a downtown location was difficult to imagine. He gave me his card and offered to introduce me to the owners. It took a couple of weeks and I called and made an appointment to meet the owners and see the space. He remains the most considerate rep I have ever known, always aware of the need for timing and discretion.

Approaching the downtown location I could feel a hint of excitement. As I parked and walked towards 6th Avenue I began to realize that I had actually been in this space when I was in cosmetology training. The salon was called the "Purple Wig Diggens", and was previously owned by Lee Smith, owner of Mr. Lee's Beauty School. From time to time students from the school were sent to the salon to assist, mostly with organizing boxes of wigs, as the name suggests a large part of their business waspurple wig diggins blog 33 selling and styling wigs. The salon also offered all aspects of salon services; hair setting, cutting, curling and coloring, with manicures and pedicures also available. The entry was on street level and you walked down a spacious stairway to a very large space...5,500 sq ft in total. The magnitude was overwhelming. Mel was there and very graciously introduced me to the owners. Somehow Gladys comes to mind as one of the owners, she was there with her husband. It must have been a Monday since the salon was closed for business. I knew it would need a complete renovation. However, when you are actually in the space and realize that every inch would need to be changed it can be daunting. I did a complete walk thru and could see the potential, it was a stretch to imagine the amount of staff it would take to get it off the ground. A meeting was arranged at my attorney’s office, and after a brief back and forth with the landlord (who's name escapes me), we reached an agreement we all could live with.

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I committed to running the salon without any changes for three months, intending to give each member of the existing staff time to relocate while the salon was closed for renovation. I contacted an interior decorator, recommended by my landlord who owned the carriage house I was living in. Roy Strom was responsible for the interior remodel of the carriage house which had been featured in House Beautiful, as well as the local paper. I was attracted to his contemporary style that had a tone fused with contrasting textures and patterns. The house was incredible. Roy was willing carriage house franks room blog 33

to take on the project with a budget that was reasonable. I then secured the financing, (with a co- sign) from my father, and we were ready to start. As luck would have it, a friend of mine who was a genius at building anything was available. He moved into a spare room at the carriage house and the project was under way. I worked many hours assisting him, and will never forget the countless number of large garbage cans full of old tile we carried out the back door to the dumpster. It took about three months to finish and it was sweet.

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I was very proud to have Dorothy Bullitt walk down that staircase with a look of genuine approval. Colliers was officially launched.

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