Pret-a-Reporter

Hairstylist to the Stars Ted Gibson Discusses Why He's Closing His New York Salon

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Ted Gibson

The hair guru to Angelina Jolie and Leslie Mann is closing after 13 years in the Flatiron District.

It's the end of a chapter for Hollywood hairstylist Ted Gibson, who announced Wednesday via Instagram that he's closing his salon in Manhattan's Flatiron District.

Gibson's decision, made in partnership with his business partner and husband Jason Backe, comes at a time when up-and-coming hairstylists no longer look to work with established industry figures to build their careers, thanks to social media.

"Ultimately we think this model that we have at the salon is becoming a dinosaur. As entrepreneurs and leaders in the beauty industry, we are excited to rethink what the luxury salon experience is, and kick it into gear," Backe explained to The Hollywood Reporter of shutting down the space.

"When we opened the salon 13 years ago, there was no social media. The people creating were Gen X-ers. Gen X-ers had a work philosophy that was more in line with living to work. So when these kids moved to New York City to be hairdressers, they were moving for their career and they needed to do it in a name salon so they could build their clientele quickly," added Backe. "Now with social media, any kid can build a clientele really fast if they are a talented hairdresser."

Gibson, who has worked with Angelina Jolie, Leslie Mann, Debra Messing and Lupita Nyong'o, believes other establishments will eventually follow suit, given how the beauty industry is evolving.

"I think the luxury client experience has changed," noted Gibson, who is known for his $1,500 haircuts. "I'm finding my clients want even more of an elevated experience, so what that means to us and to them is that they are looking for something that is a little more curated."

Gibson explained how his salon originally opened with 12 chairs to create "more of a boutique idea," in contrast to the other locations that had 40-plus chairs at the time. "So when guests come in and sit next to 18 other people in a salon, the luxury experience is losing that kind of cachet," said Gibson, adding that they no longer need the 2,500-square-foot space because "the brand has its equity and we feel like it's changing, so we want to be leaders within that change."

Gibson is no stranger to being an industry pioneer. In 2012, he started a movement that led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to change its Oscar category title from best makeup to best makeup and hairstyling.

Despite the closure, Gibson and Backe will continue to focus on other projects, including the Ted Gibson Advanced Academy, which offers advanced education to licensed hairdressers, and a new product line called Starring that has been in the works for three years. They also will open another salon in the future, but they're in no rush.

"When we move forward, we're going to take as much time as we need for this reinvention," said Backe. "But what we're imagining now is a different neighborhood on a much smaller scale, maybe five chairs and a modern model that's going to be appealing to millennials and the luxury market."

The location for the next salon has yet to be determined, but Backe noted, "There's a couple of places we have in mind. We're innovators. When we moved into the Flatiron, there was no salon. But we knew the neighborhood was going to be hot." Added Gibson with a laugh: "There wasn't even a Starbucks." For the next space, Backe shared, "We're looking at some neighborhoods that have some really sexy, interesting energy that we think are going to be the next hot Manhattan neighborhood."

As the duo figure out how to redefine the hair salon-and-client experience, Gibson noted that social media has "leveled the playing field, if you will, because someone can come right out of beauty school that's really young and maybe not have a following at all, but put things on social media that people are attracted to, and end up becoming famous." Added Backe: "It's given people a platform ... it's opened up opportunities in ways that we could have never imagined 13 years ago."

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