He treats hair as a crown and hair-do as a form of arts.
My intention for this article is to show you what an artsy salon to hang out and get glam up, but that’s not all. There’s more about this place and its owner that you should know.
He refused to keep expanding his businesses but instead kept it small and closer to his heart. Don’t get me wrong, he does make a fortune with his businesses and he doesn’t conduct his business solely with his artsy mind-set. He knows exactly what he wants.
“I love mixing and get inspired from everything around me. People don’t stick to one favourite. You can always change. The context you are in encourage you to showcase a different side of yourself. The more we explore, the more we know how to present things or ideas in different ways. At the end of the day, you cater your different selves to different people.”
If a trip to a hair salon is a leisure, a meet up with alike-minds, and an escape from the busy work hours, 77 Salon is a hidden gem you can’t miss. Hidden in a small street not far from the centre of Bangkok, the exclusive-appointment-only hair salon welcome you with its Maria Antoinette inspired décor.
As I walked into the salon, I was reminded of how ‘lifestyle’ is appreciated among people with senses of style: art students, fashion editors, graphic designers or you who are reading this article. It did bring back memories of London, or generally in the Western world where art is much more talked about.
Next to the main building where the salon was located, a ‘living room’ was occupied with collections of out-spoken accessories. Tle, Pongmanas Sawasdichai, the jewelry designer, hair stylist and the business runner behind 77th empire, dressed in a striped co-ods ready for his two exclusive appointments of the day.
Tle started 77th as an experimental jewelry brand. He transformed everything around him into a piece of accessory that would make head turns. Fashion week street photographers would stop you for a snap, that kind of designs. A shoe-shape-handbag was placed among other inspiring clutches made me wonder if it was ever actually a real shoe.
“People who comes here do not look for something normal”, said Tle.
Tle and his empire
“Hi, I’m Pongmanas Sawasdichai. I have been in fashion industry for over ten years now, working as an accessory designer for my own brand called “77th”. It was around during my 9th year into the business that I was interested in lifestyle business and hence the birth of this salon. Now the salon’s been operated for two years.
“I have a background in Accessory Design, graduated from Silpakorn University, as you know is the most qualified art school here in Thailand. Fresh off from the college, I created 77th. The first “7” represents travelling, and the second “7” represents ever-changing movement. For me, that translated to the surprising elements that my customers will experience every time they visit my shop because everything is never the same, nothing stay still in the world of 77th.”, said Tle during our chat at his salon.
“77th is something POP. It’s the ability to turn everything into a piece of accessory. When I created this salon, I thought of my clients. They pay attention to details. People who invest in accessories are mostly detail oriented. They are people who love to have fun with their hair colours, which pretty much defines 77th Salon.”
With intensive learning with the brand “Davines”, he came back with confidence and passion to create the most exclusive salon for the opinion leaders in Thailand.
One thing I always wonder is how such an artistic person run his business: what goes behind the cost sheets, inventory checks, and marketing plans. For 77th, the business runs under the owner’s clear vison. Instead of trying to get as big as possible like a startup runner, Tle decided to keep the business in a controllable size, with an operating time-table that fits his lifestyle.
Downsizing from having a store fronts which require him to create numerous pieces per collections, he now creates 4 mini collections per year sold and presented in multi-brand stores in Japan and France. This way it leaves him some times to fulfill his second passion; the salon.
“I control and designs and production timeline. I know when the collections will be launched and I work backwards from the deadlines. This make it more systematic.
I ran the business by myself. It used to be bigger with 20 plus employees. However, the market changed. My customers rarely visited the physical store anymore but instead contacted me through online channels. It wasn’t a hard transition for me to go online.”
When asked what are the challenges of being a business person while maintaining his artistic talents, he gave us a very candid reply.
“For me, I put my happiness at first. I don’t let pressure get to me. It’s important, of course, to make a living and earn profits. However, you got to find the balance. That’s why I started this salon at my own home, reduce headaches, transportation, staff politics. I used to run a bigger company and now I know exactly how big or small I want my salon to be.”
As an artist, he didn’t fail to be logical when it comes to business decisions.
“I don’t step forwards day by day. It’s essential to strategize the business in advance. How are you going to earn more in the next 4 months? What about the next 5 months? It’s not like you suddenly think ‘oh I need money next month, what should I sell’”
There you go, 77th Salon. Make sure you make an appointment and visit this cool salon when you visit Bangkok. 🙂
Written by Mee Jong