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Oribe Salon Spotlight

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Elizabeth Benke turns to big cities and two decades of behind-the-chair experience to make her second salon location in historic Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a piece of industrial perfection.

Elizabeth Benke & Associates Salon in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, has a stellar reputation for its highly skilled stylists—and rigorous training program—thanks to owner Elizabeth Benke’s 20-year-plus passion for continuing education. Her second location, a short three miles away from the original, offers the same talent and services the EB clientele has come to expect, but in a distinctly industrial setting. We spoke with Benke to learn more about how she’s bringing a modern, big city-vibe to this traditionally historic Pennsylvania borough. Click here to read our candid interview with one of the industry’s leading retail & education comapnies, Luxury Brand Partners.

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How would you describe the overall style? I wanted the new space to have a more industrial look, but without being cold. The built-in stations, shampoo bar and desk area are dark to counter the starkness of the greys and open ceiling. The lighting was chosen to be a point of interest, and the seating in reception was created to make that area feel a little more luxurious.

How is the new space different from your original location? Our original location is in a 200-year-old house, which has a homey feel. For the second salon, I wanted to give my clients a choice in atmosphere by creating an entirely different feeling. The goal was to create a space where clients feel as if they are in New York City or Philadelphia without actually having to travel.

Did anything in particular inspire the look?  I went to visit one of my best friends at her new home on a lake in Austin, Texas, and I loved everything about it. What struck me was the way the industrial elements were softened by the use of different woods, splashes of color and texture of fabrics. That is what we tried to create here, and I can’t thank my designer, Sary Em, enough for guiding me in how to turn it into a reality.

What makes the space unique?  Doylestown is a historic town where everything is old, and therefore everything tends to be very similar. You are either in an old home that has been converted into retail space or you are in a strip mall. The plaza we are in is a great blend of new and old. It consists of an old manor house and barn, which have been updated, and a new building, which is where we are located. We had nothing but a concrete box to work with, so we did not have some of the obstacles that older buildings have, which allowed us to create a more modern space, while still being surrounded by the historical feel that makes our area special.

Were any of the pieces specially made?  A friend and I designed the round EB logo 17 years ago, and it hasn’t changed. The solid copper piece on the front desk and the copper logo behind it were created to stay true to that original design.

The styling stations were designed and specially made to deal with my own clutter problem. Each side panel slides out to house products and hide those unsightly Barbicide jars! So even as we work, nothing is cluttering the overall look—everything is accessible but hidden at the same time.

The lights and wall décor are striking. Can you tell us more about them? I loved the interesting shape and the industrial feel of our Patrick Townsend chandelier paired with the mid-century furniture. My designer made the “bubble wall” for us because we wanted a statement that would fill a dead space. It has become the focal point—the thing everyone asks about. It’s also where we take the majority of our photos, so it is becoming part of our brand on social media.

What other details go into creating the right mood? We play a blend of soft pop, funk, and some classic rock through Pandora. We serve lots of different beverages: coffee, tea, spring water, iced tea, wine and beer. And, we try to keep our reading material to fashion-oriented magazines. However, the first thing clients ask for are the celebrity gossip magazines, so we keep some of those around as well.

How do your continuing education programs set you apart? I believe if you stop learning and moving forward, you become stagnant and eventually die. Education is definitely what sets us apart—from our in-house training program for assistants to our continuing education for stylists, which is not just tuition, but travel expenses and in some cases payroll reimbursement for time missed in the salon. I never want financial constraints to get in the way of someone mastering his or her craft, so we have developed a program to empower everyone to continue their education and grow with us. Whenever I am speaking with other salon owners they are always interested in how to provide that for their staff.