Nearly 30 years ago, Barb Hovsepian got her hair design training and cosmetology license and was going to fulfill her dream of owning her own salon, but life got in the way, and she ended up working as a store manager, merchandiser and buyer for Nordstrom. “I quit nine years ago to be a full time mom,” Hovsepian said. “But my goal was always to own a salon when they grew up—which is now.”
Hovsepian had been a customer of the salon and it’s original owner, Ray Noble, who founded the salon 40 years ago and still works there as a hair designer. She knew that had excellent potential when she bought it a year ago and began putting her own touches on the place. “This is an incredible salon with a great clientele in my home town,” she said. “It wasn’t broken, so I really didn’t need to fix it, but it was a great opportunity to add to the staff and add services as well.”
One of the first changes Hovsepian made was creating the “Den,” a men’s barbershop designed with rat-pack luxury and flat screen televisions to allow the boys to watch the game while getting a haircut or an old-fashioned single-blade shave. Gentlemen of all ages, from 3 to 93 are welcomed at the Den, where a little boy’s first haircut and a young man’s first shave are complimentary. Hovsepian’s 17-year-old son and one other MIHS student were also hired to give them an opportunity to learn about work integrity and how to be part of a team in running a business. Managing a salon and family life is all just a matter of organization, notes Hovsepian. “That, and having the support of a fantastic husband (Allen Hovsepian, Mercer Island Windermere real estate agent) is how I do it.”
While adding the latest hair and beauty product lines, such as Pureology and N4, Enjoy and HBL, Hovsepian felt it important to add specialized hair services, such as “Brazilian blowouts, permanent wave design and corrective hair color in addition to their waxing and makeup artistry services.
“Our biggest joy is making people feel good about themselves; we want the women leaving here to feel beautiful and the men to feel handsome,” she said. “I just wish there were more hours in a day to do that.”
Au Courant has undergone a partial make over, with a new interior painted in light neutral shades, flooring replaced with a special wood material, and blinds removed from the windows to let in more light. “Phase one was completed last year,” said Hovsepian. “Phase two will be new (hair styling) stations, new chairs and shampoo bowls to replace the purple ones that are here now…we’ll have it built out by the end of spring this year. Once we finish the remodel I can get back behind the chair and cut hair. ”
Hovespian has also added an updated web site, as well as Facebook because she feels social media is imperative to doing business in today’s tough business climate. “Our services are all listed on our web site, which is easy to use and just went live three months ago,” she said. “We want to be known everywhere for great hair and superior service. It’s all about what is easiest and best for our clients.”