Solo Artist Profile Romi Cortier: Art House Approach
Romi Cortier sells at least 6 of his paintings each year from his salon gallery.Photo 1 of 5
The unifying logo for Romi Cortier Design, created by Steven James Scott, cleverly encompasses all 3 letters—RCD.Photo 2 of 5
The quote on the salon’s wall gets tons of attention. It’s from Marianne Williamson’s bestseller “A Return to Love,” and while often misattributed as part of Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech, it was used in the movie Invictus, about Mandela and the South African Rugby Team. It reads: Our deepest fear is not that we are weak. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world ... As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”Photo 3 of 5
Cortier designed his salon to reflect his own artistic aesthetics. His retail space includes Enjoy hair care, designer candles and his own art work. During the holidays, he pre-wraps gift sets with cellophane and salon-logo stickers.Photo 4 of 5
An accomplished fine artist, Cortier posts his DIY art videos at whereartinspiresbeauty.comPhoto 5 of 5
When celebrity stylist Romi Cortier created and later re-branded his rental salon, artwork was front and center.
Romi Cortier is a hairdresser and fine artist who has been self-employed for 25 years. He once styled wigs for the Seattle opera and later worked as a platform artist for hair color brand Colorly. He has also studied at Vidal Sassoon in London, taken interior design classes at UCLA and been featured in Glamour, InStyle, the LA Times and more.
After renting for more than a decade, he opened Romi Cortier Design in 2001, in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park area. The former medical office he took over was ideal for putting his interior design skills to work, and he transformed it into a salon with 4 private rooms and one shared chair.
Last year, he drove past the salon where he had worked 14 years ago, and saw that it hadn’t changed one bit. “I didn’t wanna’ be that guy,” says Cortier. So, he re-branded his salon with a new logo, a revamped website and unified marketing.
“The Latin on the logo roughly translates to ‘Where beauty is inspiration,’ which underscores my tagline, ‘Where art inspires beauty,’” explains Cortier. “As a fourth-generation artist who uses the salon as a gallery for my paintings, it made sense.”
His primary website (romicortier.com) is also all about the beauty of art: It acts as a portal to his art-related sites and the salon’s site, which features inviting photos and bios on all his renters. The pairing is highly beneficial: Cortier’s name has a strong Google ranking—a search for it brings up his artwork, his interior design DIYs on YouTube and the salon.
Art and Commerce
Referrals build business most, says Cortier, and he encourages all the renters to solicit Yelp reviews, which has resulted in the salon’s 5-star rating and new clients. One renter constantly uploads his client photos to the page, which has helped build his younger client base. Since Cortier is booked solid Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., when he get calls, he refers the other renters: “Spreading the wealth is good for me; if they make money, we all win.”
His biggest challenge, he says, was getting like-minded renters. About six years ago a few did not work out. Now, they include the former personal stylist to Paula Abdul, a former General Hospital actor who gives singing lessons (a music major/hairdresser) and a stylist who has worked on The Office and other TV shows.
“We all know that little things make the difference when clients walk in,” says Cortier. “The salon is always clean. It has an inviting design and a happy, unpretentious vibe. There is usually someone at the open chair, since there is no desk help. I also have a door bell and a camera, so I can see if someone comes in when I am at the sink. Clients should always be greeted immediately.”
To succeed, what renters need most is self discipline, notes Cortier. “Show up early, ready to work. It’s about the clients, not you. They are paying to look good, feel good and have the right products. Also, don’t over-book yourself. I intuitively add an extra 15 minutes sometimes and rarely run late. If clients have to sit and wait, they won’t come back.”
SOLO ARTIST SPOTLIGHT
On Pricing: A woman’s cut is $95, a man’s is $75 and full highlights are $150 with me. We are East of Beverly Hills, so clients expect to pay a bit less. I had so many loyal clients when I opened that I wanted to stay affordable for them, but I did raise my prices with the re-branding.
Client Base: 8-to10 clients a day is normal for me. Some gray-coverage clients are on 2-week cycles. This is Hollywood and you can’t look old. Others book out the entire year in advance; it just suits their schedules.
Celeb Clients: Sharon Lawrence (best known for her role on NYPD Blue), Rosa Blasi (currently working on The Thundermans) and Anna Belknap (CSI New York). I also did Laura Prepon’s haircolor for her role as Alex in the first season of Orange is the New Black.
Favorite Haircolor Line: Goldwell.
Trend Prediction: Making over summer-faded haircolor
Biggest Requests: Celebrity looks. Clients come in with photos, and after 35 years in the business, it’s easy for me to recreate what they want.
Best Promo: I had classy tote bags with the salon logo made, and placed them at desk with a price tag. Then I told my clients “take one for free.” I let other renters give them away, too.