Doing hair is in his blood
"You become disconnected if you stop working with clients and you don’t see new trends," said Gordon in Wilmette owner, Tony Gordon. | Jackie Pilossoph~For Sun-Times Media
Gordon In Wilmette
3232 Lake Ave.
Updated: January 8, 2013 10:25AM
WILMETTE — Tony Gordon grew up in the hair business.
Both his grandmother and his father owned salons in Chicago and in the suburbs, but, it took Gordon quite a few years before he decided to follow in his family’s footsteps.
“I did everything else first,” said Gordon, who now runs his three salons, Gordon In Lakeview, Gordon In Highland Park, and Gordon In Wilmette. “I got a degree in political science, I thought about going to law school, I served in the Air Force for four years and I worked in finance.”
It was the stock market crash of 1987, when business got tough, that Gordon to leave his job and try working in the family business.
“I discovered I loved it the first day,” said Gordon, who has been in the business now for 26 years. “I think doing hair is just in my blood.”
After obtaining a cosmetology license, Gordon became a stylist, an Illinois State cosmetology instructor, an Aveda professional and trainer and, of course, owner and manager of his salons, where his wife, Pam is a stylist as well.
Gordon In Wilmette, which opened in 2010 is a full service Aveda hair salon for men and women with 17 employees, 12 of whom are stylists. The salon offers services that include haircuts, color, highlights, straightening processes, extensions, waxing and mini facials.
“We are really focused on hair here, and we have a variety of hairdressers,” said Gordon. “From master levels to our mid-level professional to our beginner level, which we call ‘Gordon emerging artists.’ Haircuts with those stylists are much less expensive, and some people like that.”
Gordon said he and the other master level stylists do a lot of training, and are committed to helping the emerging artists grow to become fully self-actualized hairdressers.
“Most salons don’t put the resources toward the new people, and we do because their drive and energy are amazing,” he said.
Nickki Newman, of Highland Park, has been a client of the salon for five years, and said her stylist, Holly has always made her feel comfortable in discussing her options.
“We talk about my hair and what I want to do,” said Newman, “We discuss what will work and she walks me through every step.”
As well as managing and overseeing the salons, Gordon still has a full list of clients, one of whom is Shira Levine, of Skokie. Levine said she chose Gordon as her stylist after she noticed him styling another client’s hair.
“I was sitting in someone else’s chair and I was watching Tony, and he was very careful and very precise,” she said. “He was using two or three different brushes and he took the time to make sure that when the client left the chair she looked beautiful. She couldn’t have looked better.”
“As the owner of the salons, I think if you don’t continue to do hair on the floor you lose touch,” said Gordon. “You become disconnected if you stop working with clients and you don’t see new trends. My customers train me, and they teach me.”
When asked why he chose to become an Aveda salon, meaning all the products used and sold in the salon are manufactured by Aveda, Gordon said he is a huge environmentalist, and that the products are not only environmentally friendly, but they are natural and high quality.
Prices at Gordon In Wilmette depend on the level of stylist. For example, haircuts with emerging artists begin at $25, haircuts with professionals begin at $45, and haircuts with masters begin at $65.
All stylists do both the client’s cut and color, something Gordon said is very effective.
“At other salons, very often the stylist and the colorist don’t talk, which means two different concepts. Here, we combine the two.”
“I love this salon,” said Newman, “I love my stylist, I love the products, and this is just a really comfy, warm, cozy place.”