A salon/spa has popped up in one of the most unexpected of places. While road work has begun to change the face of Main Street in Downtown Buffalo, Hair and Body has opened its doors, showcasing a remarkable transformation into what looks to be a modern, vibrant full service hair, skin care and massage destination. The orchestrator behind Mind and Body is none other than Brian Wantuch, creator and owner of Wasteland Studios (learn more about Brian). The great thing about Brian, is that he’s investing his time and money into a building on Main Street in Downtown Buffalo, and he’s doing something remarkable in the process… with relatively little funding, Brian has managed to open and/or attract a music studio, attract a tattoo parlor (Beyond Divine Machine Tattoo), a music and arts venue (The Vault), and now a salon (Hair and Body Salon and Day Spa). Brian told me that he has been given the opportunity to create this destination thanks to Harold Kopp, who owns the building. Harold has allowed Brian’s vision to manifest, which in turn has created a synergy that is remarkable.
If all entrepreneurs in Downtown Buffalo thought like Brian, we would be in great shape. I must say that there was a time, many years ago, when I ran into Brian in Allentown and he painted a picture of his vision for me. He told me about the building, and the music studio, etc. While I respected Brian for his incredible dream, I wasn’t quite sure if he could pull it off. Boy was I wrong. Brian did exactly what he said he was going to do… and more. He identified a building that was empty and needed a lot of work. Then he moved his own recording studio into it. After that he reached out to business-minded friends that he thought might be interested in being a part of his adventure. As he attracted small businesses, he cleaned up the storefronts and helped to make them habitable for the entrepreneurs who were willing to take a chance on the building and Downtown Buffalo.
Brian’s business philosophy was (and is) fairly simple – use common sense. Create welcome and inviting, affordable storefronts for businesses that can help to attract people and other businesses to the building. Find service oriented businesses that can help to create a destination. Work with the tenants, and allow them to feel that they are integral parts to the success of the whole. The better the tenants do, the better the building (and Brian) does. Be creative with the build-outs and be practical. Make them nice, but avoid hiring expensive contractors that would ultimately price start-ups out of the picture. More importantly than anything else… be hands on. Brian’s world is within the building. When you have someone like Brian who actually embodies and personifies the final result, then success can’t be far behind.
Now Brian has helped to creat what he believes is another successful component within the building. Yes, it’s a salon, but it’s so much more than just a salon. “See that over there,” Brian said to me [pointing]. “That’s where we’re putting the fish tank… right next to the bridge that traverses the massage studios. And then over there we’re putting in a waterfall for sound therapy.” The atmosphere in Hair and Body is refreshing, with it’s high ceilings, natural elements, sharp lighting and custom salon stations. Salon offerings include cuts, color, double-process tints, pedicures, manicures, facials, highlights and waves, reflexology, reiki, deep tissue massage and hot stones.
With all of these services, Hair and Body is an escape for customers. At the same time Brian’s fulfillment of his dream is a welcome dose of reality for Buffalo – that not everything has to be over analyzed and over designed in order to be successful, and that with enough determination and a “steady as she goes” approach, a lot can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time.
700 Main Street Buffalo, New York