The Dove Salon Lands in Calif.

Christopher Dove and Sonya Dove Legendre bypassed ritzy salon haven Beverly Hills in favor of the seaside enclave of Santa Monica, Calif., to cultivate an unpretentious vibe in their first namesake U.S. outpost.

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The partners have decades of experience together. The former couple met in England when Sonya was 13 and Christopher was 15, and eventually ran a salon there for 13 years. In 1994, they moved to the U.S., where Shelton Ogle, owner of salons and schools in Texas, hired the pair to be creative directors. They then held those posts at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons before jumping to Wella Professionals U.S.A., where they currently are creative directors. Throughout their career, they gained a following for elaborate stage shows and commitment to educating up-and-comers.

For Dove and Dove Legendre, compromise has been critical to an enduring professional relationship. "I have been a bit more outrageously creative and out there, and Sonya is a lot more practical," said Dove. Dove Legendre added, "Philippe is more in the middle....There is not a right or wrong. When you put them together, it creates a stronger person."

They foresee several salons in the U.S., including possible locations in Las Vegas, Newport Beach, Calif., and elsewhere in greater Los Angeles. First, they have to fill the Santa Monica location with a staff of 15 stylists and colorists that they choose to pay with a salary rather than on commission. "We have interviewed about 500 hairdressers," said Dove. "A lot of time we are getting people who say, 'I have this amount of clients, and you need me in this salon.' It was such a turnoff. We have gone for people who have great personality."

Dove Legendre said that, in year two, the goal is for the salon, which ended up costing $700,000 to complete, to generate $1.7 million in revenues, about 20 percent from retail, 40 percent from color and 40 percent from cuts and styling. The salon carries Wella, Sebastian and Crazy Color by Renbow products. For color, prices range from $40 for a consultation to $450 for creative techniques from the creative director. Haircuts are priced from $65 to $175.

"We have always maintained a level of modesty....Truly, we are people that will work hard to do everything we can to do our best," said Dove. "So far, every time we have put our heart and soul and mind into something, it has worked out."
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