Bad Hair Day salon and spa in Rehoboth Beach recently celebrated 20 years in business and, after decades of growth, moves and trends, entrepreneur Drexel Davison says he's still a hairstylist at heart.
After moving the salon three times, briefly opening two satellite locations and over the years employing nearly a thousand technicians, assistants and stylists, Davison said he wants his business to thrive.
"I have ideas for expansion. I've always wanted to continue to grow my business," Davison said. "But I also want to be true to myself and take a look what's inside me to expand the joy, peace and serenity within."
With an eye for aesthetics, Davison can be found at the salon most days. Although he no longer styles hair, his role is still hands-on.
Long after the champagne bottles were popped and the anniversary celebration was over, Davison was at the salon office, working on plans to make sure the building's exterior reflects the beauty his co-workers create inside.
When Davison first opened Bad Hair Day on the second block of Wilmington Avenue in 1993, he was the sole stylist.
The owner said he had waited tables in the restaurant next door to the unit that became the first location of Bad Hair Day.
Today, that location is the dining room of a popular oyster house, but back then, it was his salon, which he opened after borrowing $3,000 from his father and asking an artist friend to help him with the visuals.
His friend created a trompe l'oeil mural on the walls, and Davison said he changed the decor each week, drawing attention through the large windows of his new salon.
"The walls are what made us famous," Davison said. "It was just this little shadow box of gorgeous that would change every weekend."
On a shoestring budget, Davison said he worked year-round and still waited tables at night to make ends meet.
"There were days of one client and no heat," he said. "I'd cut their hair while they wore their fur coat."
The next year, he moved to a location on Rehoboth Avenue, where he could live upstairs and combine rent. That lasted three years, until he moved the salon to the 45 Lake Ave. location where Bad Hair Day has been turning bad days around for the last 16 years.
At the new location, Davison hired stylists and an aesthetician, and business was starting to boom.
Stylist Cheryl Treacy has worked at the salon for nearly 19 years, since the days when Davison lived upstairs.
Treacy said she is just one of a number of people who have been with the salon upwards of 15 years, making the team more like family than co-workers at times.
"It just gets better and better," she said. "The changes Drexel has done keep things looking new, and constant education keeps us up-to-date and always current."
At the Lake Avenue location, Davison finally had space to give clients a full spa experience. That's when he began to carry Aveda products and offer a wide variety of services.
Today, Bad Hair Day offers hair, nail, massage, body, facial and makeup services, starting with a complimentary five-minute scalp massage and wrapping up with a complimentary light makeup application for women at the salon, the owner said.
Trends fade, style endures.
Davison said when he worked as a stylist, he had two muses: Princess Diana, whose photo he kept on the mirror of his work station, and his mother, Cathleen, who he said continues to be a timeless beauty.
"I learned from Diana to assert your independence and strength with style," he said. "The gig is to have a nice, clean highlight all the way to the root... and good, healthy hair."
When he began, he said the trends were all for the round brush, and "Jennifer Aniston hair" with shape and layers. These days, Davison said, the flat iron is in, and stick-straight hair is all the rage.
Davison said he educates his staff on all the trends, and his stylists can accommodate any requests, but it begins with hair that shines.
"We see the trends come and go, and come back again," he said. "I've stayed focused on classic, rich, healthy, shiny hair. That's what a classic lady is."
Providing a cozy but dynamic experience for his clientele is one thing, but Davison said it's the ability to give back to the community that has supported his business for 20 years and makes him most proud.
Over the years, Bad Hair Day has hosted beauty nights for cancer patients with a campaign called "Miracle Mondays," where women fighting the disease have been invited into the salon for a night of beauty and fellowship.
"Early on we decided to help ladies suffering from cancer," Davison said. "We got to share in the challenge of so many brave women."
The salon also raised $30,000 for a new playground at the elementary school and more recently, Davison has served on the board of the upcoming Freeman stage fundraising White Party at the end of July.
Next up, Davison said he is serving as chairman of the 26th annual Beebe Ball, themed "Under the Big Top" and slated for Saturday, Nov. 2.
A well-oiled machine
Although Davison has left styling to his staff of 27 hairdressers and mainly concentrates on administrative duties, smooth sailing for the salon still requires administrative staff along with skin and nail technicians and assistants.
New stylist Barry Zehr said BHD was his only choice for employment when he recently relocated permanently to Rehoboth, and buzz about the salon consistently brings new clients and returning summer visitors along with devoted locals.
New Lewes resident Kelly Moran moved to the Cape Region in July, and after owning her own salon and styling her own hair for years, she has hung up her scissors and recently visited the salon to freshen up her look for summer.
"It's a beautiful salon," Mohr said. "I always did my own hair, but I figured I would pamper myself and get someone else to do it."
Davison said he's made this business his life. "I didn't do it for the money," he said. "It's a showcase for my visual. I've done it for the creativity, to spread love and take care of others."
Bad Hair Day, 45 Lake Ave., is open seven days a week. Walk-in welcome. Visit www.badhairday.biz for more information or call 302-227-4247 to make an appointment.
For more information about the Saturday, July 27 Freeman Stage White Party fundraiser in Selbyville or to buy tickets, go to www.freemanstage.org or call 302-436-3015.
Tickets for the Beebe Medical Foundation's Beebe Ball will go on sale at the end of September. Go to www.beebefoundation.org or call 302-644-2900 for more information.