Thursday, June 18, 2009

Glo versus Gliss - Coronation Street for hairdressers!

Mary Louise Abrahamse, at her Glo salon on Avenue Rd., is suing eight former staffers for $6.4 million, accusing them of stealing her business. (June 17, 2009 - Rene Johnston/Toronto Star)

Rival Yorkville hair salons in ugly battle
Her salon is empty, her rival’s is full and elite stylists are chattering
By Cathal Kelly, Staff Reporter
June 18, 2009
At 10:30 yesterday morning, an hour-and-a-half after opening, the ground level of the opulent Glo Salon & Spa was empty of customers.
A trio of staff lounged at the front desk. One of them was reading a story in the Star about the beauty parlour's acrimonious spat with neighbouring salon, Gliss.
At the same time, a stone's throw up the road at Gliss, things were hopping. All their chairs were full, all their stylists and colourists occupied with clients.
Glo owner Mary Louise Abrahamse is suing eight former staffers, who now work at Gliss, for $6.4 million. She accuses them of stealing her business by luring away her clients and leaving her with a small staff of relatively inexperienced workers. "Inexperienced" in hairdressing terms means a cutter or colourist without a well-developed roster of loyal customers.
Abrahamse's detractors have accused her of hypocrisy after she posted a pair of ads on the Craigslist website seeking stylists and colourists "with clientele.''
News of the suit was rippling through Yorkville yesterday, catching the attention of many of the city's top cutters.
"Everyone in this business thinks that someone who would sue like that, they don't know what they're doing," said Tony Chaar of the Tony Chaar Salon. "She's going nowhere with that. Nowhere."
Chaar himself once famously split with celebu-stylist Jie Matar to start his own competing business. For his part, Matar sided with Abrahamse.
"It's crazy. It's pathetic. This is definitely against salon courtesy," said Matar, who now operates a shop named after its address, 186 Davenport. "They manipulate the clients. And the owners go out of business. How many times have we seen it in Toronto?"
Until yesterday, Abrahamse had declined comment.
Yesterday, she called the Star expressing her desire to talk on the record.
"There are two sides to every story," Abrahamse said.
She posed for photos in the morning and scheduled an interview for the afternoon.
By 3 p.m., there were two customers being serviced on Glo's broad first level. Abrahamse and two of her counsel sat down in the empty third-floor spa level for the ostensible interview.
Instead of allowing his client to speak, lawyer Bob Klotz handed out a one-page statement.
After summarizing the case, it ended with, "That is all we have to say at this juncture."
But contacted last night, Abrahamse did address one of the key accusations thrown at her.
In February, an ad was posted on Craigslist reading, "GLO salon is looking for a hairstylist that is currently working in the Yorkville/Annex area with clientele."
In April, a second ad was posted: "Glo Salon and Spa is looking for stylists/colourists with clients or salons that are closing."
Isn't that what she's accusing Gliss owner Perry Neglia and his seven co-defendants of doing to her?
"That's the nature of the business. That's only a mechanism to hire experienced hairdressers," Abrahamse said. "There's a big difference between one person leaving with clientele and nine leaving a business."
Abrahamse's lawyers said in their written statement that her business has been "harmed," but that "Glo Salon will continue to provide superior service to all its clientele. Our client is in this business to stay." The lawsuit will continue, it said.
The tangible crux of the ongoing legal dispute continues to be the thousand or so "colour cards" that were seized in a surprise search at Gliss two weeks ago.
The cards contain personal client information like contact details and frequency of appointments. The staff at Gliss is operating without the cards. In fact, they were offered a week's worth by the auditor who is holding the cards to facilitate appointments. They declined.
"It's not a like the Coca-Cola formula," said Neglia. "We're continuing to function completely well without them."
However, some clients have expressed anger that they and their details were brought into this fight at all.
"I don't like that," said Gliss customer Dora Soberano. "Nobody should have my personal information."
When Neglia last saw the cards, they were scattered in sealed boxes, strewn around the downtown law office of the court-appointed independent supervising solicitor. Neglia is awaiting the imminent return of much of that data.
The fight, and the commotion it has caused, are expected to linger a good while.
"This is unbelievable," said Stephen Jackson, one of the co-defendants who left Glo for Gliss.
"It's like Coronation Street for hairdressers."


Post a Comment

<< Home