GREENWOOD — A local salon owner has made significant changes to his business operations over the last two years.
"In the salon atmosphere, we tend to be more forward-thinking," Bo Cardoza, the owner of Bo's Hair Salon, told WRTV.
Cardoza, 34, first opened Bo's Hair Salon in 2015 on the north side of Indianapolis. With a couple of stints in other locations around the city, Bo's Hair Salon relocated to Greenwood in January 2020.
"I found this, and I got really lucky. And, it was perfect," Cardoza said.
As a 1-on-1 salon, Cardoza says he doesn't believe in double-booking and feels the salon experience can be more comfortable when only the stylist and client are in the room.
His last location was a communal space, where several salon owners operated in different rooms of a single building. "We shared a restroom," Cardoza said. "A break room. And, here, I don't have any of that."
When the pandemic hit a few months after Cardoza first opened in Greenwood, he was happy to be in his own space where only he and his clients used the restroom and he could enforce his own sanitation rules. But, at his last location, he may not have been able to call those shots.
Despite having ample space and opportunity to bring in more stylists, Cardoza has kept his significantly bigger salon for just him, a client and his husband, who is the salon manager. The pandemic, Cardoza says, proves it's not only safer that way but provides a more comfortable experience for his clients.
"So that way you still get that salon time — when you book it, it's your time," Cardoza said.
Being a Safe Space
When browsing a hair salon's menu of options, it's often expansive because its traditionally been gendered.
For example, you'll likely have to pick between a "women's haircut" or a "men's haircut." But what if someone is nonbinary? Or they don't want a gender-norm hairstyle? Or someone is transitioning?
"Everyone deserves to be comfortable," Cardoza said.
"I think that everyone deserves to have great hair, and no one should feel uncomfortable because they want to book a service," he said.
Cardoza said he follows many hair-related accounts he admires on social media, such as the "Dresscode Project," an online resource for hair stylists and barbers to become safer spaces for the LGBTQ community.
"I really identified with what [the Dresscode Project] laid out. To me, I really appreciated how they described it being uncomfortable for someone to have to book a 'men's service,' if they don't identify with a 'men's service,' you know? So, I want everyone to be pronoun-friendly, pronoun-free," Cardoza explained.
Six months ago, Cardoza completely changed his menu options to go by length — not gender. The list of possibilities at Bo's Hair Salon for instance are "Long Haircuts," "Extra Long Haircuts," and "Fades/Pixie Haircuts," and others.
Cardoza believes the cosmetology industry is already moving toward being more open and inclusive.
"I don't think we'll have much of a choice as society kind of shifts over time," Cardoza said in regard to the evolution of the salon industry.
If you identify as a woman and want a fade, you can select a fade and feel affirmed that this is not just a style option for men. If you're a man with long hair, you can come in for a trim without the discomfort of booking a "woman's trim."
By offering a 1-on-1 experience and a menu that doesn't force you to pick a gendered hairstyle, Cardoza says he hopes he can provide a safe space for the LGBTQ community and folks who don't want gender-norm hairstyles.
No Tips, Please
Cardoza is taking his salon's all-inclusivity to the next level by becoming a non-tipping salon.
"I wanted people to be able to budget for their hair," Cardoza said.
Instead of surprising customers with a total at the end of their service or expecting a gratuity; clients go into the appointment knowing precisely what they will pay when he's finished.
"I have set up more of an hourly situation. So if you book a 2-hour service, you pay a 2-hour service fee. And I figured it would be nice if the gratuity was included because then you know what you're going to pay, and you know what you're going to budget for," Cardoza explained.
"I feel like that takes a little bit of anxiety out of a salon service," he added.
Cardoza says he's noticed fewer anxious faces at the register since he implemented a no-tipping policy about a year ago.
He adds that although the salon's prices did go up, they did not change by much. Most of the time, in a traditional salon, the service price does not include the products that may be necessary to finish the style. For example, you may book a cut and color appointment. Still, the listed price may not include toner, shampoo, a particular hair protector, and other products that may be deemed necessary during your visit.
Eliminating the need for tips and making services a flat rate keeps the mystery out of the client's total.
"So, you're really paying about the same. It's just all-inclusive now. So that way, you don't feel like you're getting nickeled and dimed," Cardoza further explained.
Cardoza said his recent changes and the evolution of Bo's Hair Salon over the years have been about making the process of getting your hair done easier. It doesn't have to be complicated.
"I just want to be an all-inclusive salon. I don't want anyone to feel like they are not welcome in my salon. I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable coming to the salon."
Those interested in learning more about Cardoza or booking an appointment at Bo's Hair Salon can visit boshairsalon.com.
WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @shakkirasays.