Essential grant program inspires Salon Entrenous to put its best face forward
Lisa Sallabank and her staff at Salon Entrenous work hard to help people achieve just the outward appearance they’re looking for, but then one day she realized the same wasn’t to be said of the building they were working in.
With that revelation, and the support from Downtown London, Lisa was able to help give her business, located at 579 Richmond St., a look that matched the energy and excitement found inside its walls.
Lisa spoke with officials at Downtown London and took advantage of the AboutFace Façade Improvement Grant. A MainStreet London program that provides grant funding for downtown business and property owners to improve their building façades, the incentive offered just the inspiration Lisa admits she needed.
“I was planning on an interior renovation, but when I looked at it, our outside wasn’t matching our inside. The outside had some dings, was looking dated, didn’t have signage visible in the evening, so there were tons of reasons to do this,” she said. “I’m good at making people look pretty, not so much buildings, not so much permits for buildings.”
“Working with Downtown London . . . they made sure we knew about everything.”
Under the rules of the grant program, property owners work with designers and contractors (two quotes are needed for all the work) to get design plans and estimates.
Improvements are to be consistent with Downtown Design Guidelines and as approved by Downtown London.
Lisa worked with Nicholson Sheffield Architects Inc., which she eagerly says were “amazing to work with,” as they offered her a variety of impressive options.
In fact, she had so many choices — “probably six viable options,” she explains — the biggest challenge was deciding which one to pick.
Still, she had help with that too. After all, if she knew nothing else, Lisa said she knew it was something she only wanted to do once.
“We own the building and I felt like I wanted to do something I would never have to do again, with material that would hold up,” she said.
“The incentive program was essential. I wouldn’t have known to work with an architect first; I probably would have been left to my own devices and what I think was pretty. Without that grant, we wouldn’t have been able to go ahead as we did.”
Lisa is quick to share her experience working with Downtown London to her fellow business owners along Richmond Row.
Whether it is the façade grant, other business programs, or even public events like the Lighting of the Lights in Victoria Park, Lisa said it all adds up to the only proof she needs that her business is located in the right part of London.
It’s also, she adds, why it’s essential for any business to put its best face forward.
And that confidence isn’t just an anecdotal observation.
When Salon Entrenous takes on new clients, they ask people why they chose to walk in the door.
Lisa said she estimates 5-10 percent of new clients specifically mention they liked the look of the building as their reason for coming into the salon.
“I think Richmond Street is one of the busiest in the city. If you’re standing out, catching someone’s eye, it’s super important,” she said. “Instead of being a freeway for getting north to south, you just might want to park your car and take a look around. We’re making people pretty inside of the building, so we have to match that on the outside of the building.”