New Orleans’ First Male Day Spa
Opened in February, Ego’s Gentlemen Spa invites men to enjoy the royal treatment.
Located on historic Bayou Road, Ego’s Gentlemen Spa is not a barbershop, although the salon has a lineup of expert barbers, stylists and estheticians. Instead Ego’s has zeroed in on taking care of the specific needs of male customers (women are always welcome), through a wholly unique and spiritual approach, with a wide array of treatments for the mind and body.
Co-owners Brandon Mitchell and Ashlea Unique opened Ego’s on Feb. 3 with the goal of reaching clients who might have hesitated to ask for salon and spa treatments before.
Mitchell, who has been in the hair care business for more than 25 years, and Unique, a licensed and experienced esthetician, said they recognized the need for something a little different after observing male clients at more traditional salons.
“We definitely saw a need for a place dedicated to men’s wellness and self-care needs,” Unique said. “I have been in the spa business for eight years and have worked in all kinds of spa environments. What many men were telling us was that the spas were either very feminine or neutral. When men would come in, they would only come in during certain times, mostly at the slowest times. They never wanted to be there when there were lots of women or other people.”
Statistics support Mitchell and Unique. Many men avoid spas, nearly 40 percent according to an International Spa Association (ISPA) report, because they aren’t familiar with the etiquette or think spas are mainly designed for women’s needs.
Ego’s is on trend with a move to make spa spaces more accessible to men by incorporating more masculine colors and décor, using different lighting and providing products with scents that appeal more to a man’s taste. Other changes can be as simple as changing the reading materials and music selections.
Mitchell and Unique focused on creating an enjoyable salon and spa experience that brings clients in for a classic cut or shave and keeps them coming back for additional services, (think manicures, pedicures, alternative therapy and acupuncture) that they will then talk about with others.
“Right now, our most popular service is haircuts,” Unique said. “Brandon has so much experience, he has a large following, so many men come in for that. Most are under the impression that this is a barbershop, but when they see the long list of services we offer, they are baffled and impressed. It’s unfamiliar territory, but they have been eager to try new things.”
Male clients trend toward wanting immediate, tangible results when they walk out of a salon, and often tend to bundle multiple treatments at one time or in one visit. Mitchell said word of mouth is the spa’s most powerful tool for getting new clients.
“Once the men come in [for a cut] and see the services, they are interested in getting a manicure or a pedicure. The other service that is really unique to us is our ear candling therapy. It’s something they can’t find other places and all of the benefits really interest our clients,” he said.
“Our typical customers right now are gentlemen between the ages of 25 to 45,” Unique said. “They find us via word of mouth or they walk in off the street because they see us and are curious. The ear candling’s main benefit is the removal of the hard wax buildup that cannot be reached by home remedies. It can help improve things for people with frequent sinus infections. It really helps people that have hearing loss due to wax buildup or pressure in the face and head. It is extremely relaxing.”
Additional perks, such as offering alcoholic beverages, also add to the appeal for male clients. Ego’s currently offers a happy-hour beverage each Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for each client. Holistic products, massage and special treatments round out the menu of selections that continue to draw new customers.
Located on Bayou Road just off Broad Street, Ego’s Gentlemen Spa also embraces the spirit of New Orleans and is proud of being a business located in a traditionally black business zone.
“This location on Bayou Road is historic, with a long tradition of being a trading ground to indigenous people,” Unique said. “It was, in fact, the first paved road in the city. There is so much good energy here. This block in particular is a place were people come to experience black businesses, take a stroll and see something that is unique to the city.”
For Mitchell, the appeal of the spa’s location is the inspiration from the history of New Orleans and the people the city draws, a feeling he hopes Ego’s will cultivate and grow into other locations.
“New Orleans is a place for artists,” he said. “People come to New Orleans to capture that feeling of being an artist and being a part of something. We are also artists. It’s an art to make people feel great about themselves. We want to spread that New Orleans feeling to other places.”
While Ego’s continues to expand and provide more services to more clientele, Unique and Mitchell are determined not to limit the business to just male customers.
“We are currently in the process of expanding our creative team. We want Ego’s to become not only a household name in New Orleans and in the United States, but also around the world,” Unique said. “But, we want people to know, a common misconception is that because this is a gentlemen’s spa, it is only for men. That is not true. We want women to know, everyone to know, that we welcome them as well. We may have a more masculine feel, but we are open for everyone to come experience our services.”
DID YOU KNOW?
More Men are Hitting Spas
According to a recent report from International Spa Association, 49 percent of spa customers are men — up from 29 percent in 2005.
Reasons Men Visit a Spa:
1. The desire to look younger and be more competitive both in the job market and socially
2. To relieve pain due to aging or sports-related activities
3. Stress relief due to working long hours
4. To help stay physically fit overall
5. To connect socially or through an event, such as a bachelor party, especially when alcoholic refreshments are served
The average male spa goer:
Is 25-44 years old;
Holds a management position;
Makes at least $50,000 per year; and
Places a high premium on ambiance, amenities, expertise of staff and cleanliness.